Q: What are the most important (but often lost) messages of feminism today?
A: The core messages of feminism are lost in the barrage of myths and misunderstanding about the movement. Let’s go through some of the basic myths that you have bought into – to one degree or another – that obscure the insights of and intentions of feminism.
(Side note: The picture on the right makes me shake my head. For more examples google image search “feminism demotivational.” When you see posters like this, imagine looking at them with your six-year old daughter. Or imagine sending this message to your mother. What are we teaching each other here? Hopefully this article will help improve the situation, in whatever small amount. Please pass along.)
6 Myths of Feminism:
1. It’s just about women.
It’s not. The feminist movement at its heart is a movement to heal long standing wounds and conflicts in all members of society – male and female.
When a boy is bullied for being ‘effeminate,’ it shows how much we devalue and disrespect feminine characteristics. We think of the feminine as weak, over-emotional, moody, and trivial.
The truth is that feminine power – integral to creativity, inspiration, connection with each other and nature, birth, nurturing, beauty, and wisdom – is vital to a healthy society that upholds confidence, integrity and peace in the lives of its members.
2. Women can, and should, out-compete men.
This is tragic misunderstanding of what we can offer ourselves and each other as men and women. While certainly men and women are equally capable of doing most (nearly all?) jobs, each may bring a different perspective or quality to their work.
For example, police teams with male and female officers are much less likely to instigate or experience physical violence in the call of duty.There are also reports that female officers are better at assisting female victims. Of course law enforcement will be more effective, trustworthy, and therefore more respected with an increase in feminine influence.
A women’s perspective in politics, design, product development, science, marketing, sustainability, or anything else will be different because of her unique gifts and experience as a woman – even while fulfilling a traditionally masculine role to the same quality standard.
In the purest yin and yang sense of masculinity and femininity, each plays an important and balancing role on all levels of consciousness – whether we are talking about the physical, reproduction, instincts, and emotions, or the ‘higher’ functions of will, ethics, expression, intellect, and wisdom. There is a masculine and feminine element to all of these higher domains and both are necessary to create a peaceful and truly prosperous society.
We all understand how the feminine and masculine must partner together to reproduce. We don’t often consider the power that comes from involving both ends of the polarity on the levels of intellect, integrity, creativity, or deep contemplation.
So rather than championing some myth about which is the ‘superior sex,’ feminism today seeks to ensure balanced representation and contribution of talents, perspectives and aptitudes in all areas of our society by including appropriate representations of both genders and the valuing and honouring of both feminine and masculine characteristics in all of us.
The same principles are at work to empower the voices and ability of any minority group by inclusion in status positions across the board.
Q: Should representation be 50/50? In government?
A: Not necessarily, though currently having a dominantly female government would be entirely helpful for your society.
Q: Will that ever happen?
A: Chances are, the world will undergo a lot of restructuring first. There are a lot of political, economic, and environmental pressures on the systems of the world and we are likely to see some very substantial changes in the coming years. But that is another story.
Q: So the point is: It’s not that women should work their butts off to be better leaders than men, it’s that both have valuable and important qualities to bring to leadership and both are needed to make effective decisions.
A: Yes. Women and men cannot make intelligent and responsible decisions without understanding and talking to one another. That means working together as leaders.
3. Men need to defend themselves against feminists.
Blaming is a temporary phase that all who feel victimized must go through (think of the stages of grief). It’s not helpful to hold on to blame. Surely by now we ought to realize that men have been equally – if not more – hurt by the imbalance of our society. The disrespect and dishonouring of the feminine has caused a great rift and the repression of qualities that all of us need.
We have all gravely suffered from the repression of the feminine.
The tools and strategies used to restore understanding and honour to the feminine will also be used to restore the pure and aligned meaning of masculinity. It is one healing process and, as we acknowledge and validate one another in our suffering and in our commitment to growth, men and women become powerful teammates.
4. Feminism is an attack on family values.
There is a form or phase of ‘feminism’ that criticizes women for wanting to stay at home, raise children, and play a supportive ‘behind-the-scenes’ role to a husband who is more actively involved in the workforce.
This criticism of homemakers does not help to ‘liberate’ but instead further constricts feminine power.
Feminine support is invaluable. Think of that phrase “Behind every great man is a greater woman.” A woman can do tremendous amounts to support a man’s important work in the world without being a visible figurehead. This is a beautiful honourable, and vital feminine role – but is not the only one.
If we think of a spectrum of masculine vs. feminine characteristics, all people have the capacity to embody qualities of any position in that spectrum. It comes with our abstract and fundamental nature as spiritual beings. However, women tend to be better at embodying the feminine side of the polarity, and vice versa for men. It is right and healthy for people to play out different parts of the polarity at different times of their lives and different times of the day.
The confusion also lies in what we think comprises either end of those poles – for example that masculine means “stoic” and feminine means “weak”
(for a more in-depth discussion on the so-called ‘weakness’ of femininity, read: How Women Will Save the World)
In truth, the sensitive man is more likely, through his heightened tuning to his inner nature and the nature of the world, to embody the highest masculine qualities which are inaccessible to the man who is emotionally numb.
We need to reassert that the femininity offers a profound strength, leadership, and wisdom that is uniquely feminine, harmonious with nurturance and family instincts, and absolutely critical to the health of society.
5. Feminists are ugly or lesbians.
In other words, women become feminists only when they are not beautiful, slim, or sexy enough to succeed in being validated by society as having worth as a woman.
All of us have at least an inkling that something is wrong with how women are treated in the media and in society at large. When we conjure an image of a ‘feminist’ in our minds, we probably don’t think of someone who looks like a supermodel. But the truth is, most women don’t look like supermodels. So if it’s true that most feminists don’t look like Angelina Jolie, it’s because most women don’t!
Our society has homogenized and standardized our ideals of beauty the same way we have done to our consumer products. Our industrialized view has us eating fruits and vegetables of just a few varieties that produce the most uniform sizes and colours (e.g.: the 12 varieties of apples that have the most consistent shape, as opposed to the 7,500+ varieties of apples available) and processed foods are treated with chemical flavourings such that any natural variance is masked by an ultra-uniform taste formula.
Just as we have monopolized our cheese selection with cheddar and mozzarella, so have we cut down our ideals of feminine beauty to just one or two body types.
The deeper problem is that we have misunderstood beauty: women can only be as ugly as they are made to feel. Any woman can embody Aphrodite when she knows that is who she is. This is an inside-out process, where a woman touches her own divine nature as a woman. It cannot occur outside-in, where a woman seeks to jam herself into the glass slipper defined by external sources.
While lesbians have and do play an important role in the feminine movement, the bulk of the energy is with women who are heterosexual, married, and mothers – not to mention husbands, fathers, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, and yourself.
Your life is a testimony to the power of the feminine – your birth, your sustenance, and the very cells of your body owe their existence to the feminine principle of existence. In the most abstract sense of yin and yang, all of energy and matter are feminine. It is the principle of organization that is inherently masculine. (For more on masculinity and femininity, read How Women Will Save the World).
Any time you seek to improve your life through balance, self-love, introspection and empowerment, you are contributing to the feminist movement.
6. Feminism is over.
This is the idea that since women can work and vote, the battle is over. It’s not.
According to the documentary “Miss Representation,” – (watch the trailer) – the hyper objectification and sexualization of women in today’s media (specifically the last 10 years) is actually a backlash against the progress of feminism. Feminism is definitely an ongoing process.
We’ll know that feminism has accomplished its mission when society values each person inherently and fully supports the holistic development of self-discovery and true self-confidence for all its members.
Q: Hey thanks.
A: You’re welcome.