Is it just the community I live in, or is this a more prevailing perspective on masculine/feminine and male/female:
“The Ego and its masculine surrogates who dominate the economic, political and cultural institutions of our society continue a patriarchal system that diminishes access to divine love which is intrinsically based in the feminine side of each person. In this playshop, [the instructor] will demonstrate how Astrology reveals the depth of the “mother” wound we may have and to what extent we may have healing associated with understanding the behavior(s) that further cultivates our feminine side. These behaviors may include being a good listener, better self-care, home organization, social skills, etc.”
This is a description from a workshop advertised locally as “Healing the Mother/Feminine Within”.
What bugs me the most about this is that a) there’s never a “healing the father/masculine within” workshop that’s a mirror of this and b) there’s an assumption that the feminine is “broken” (and hence needs healing) because of the masculine.
Let me just say, this is not how I want my children to think of masculine/feminine and, more importantly, male and female in our society and in the world at large.
I also see this as directly channeling from the “female as victim” mentality that I believe is far too prevalent in our society and is the basis of a lot of problems we have with lack of equality and with certain groups that automatically equate male = bad, female = good.
It even shows up in the news: a local paper is reporting a 31yo female teacher who was caught dallying with an underage student. Because she’s female, it’s reported as an isolated incident, there’s no photo associated with the story, etc. Same situation with a male teacher and an underage female student, however, and he’d already have his life ruined, be named, have his picture in the paper, and likely be in jail. You’re read of these appalling situations with male teachers taking advantage of their situation, compare those stories with this one in the Denver Post: Loveland Teacher Accused of Sex Assault.
I’m not only male but masculine too, which means that as part of the package I can be loud, boisterous, aggressive, have a deep voice and a big presence. Then again, I know women with all the same characteristics, along with men who have almost none of them. Is that good or bad? Of course not, they’re just personality and behavioral traits.
Which gets us back to “a patriarchal system that diminishes access to divine love which is intrinsically based in the feminine side of each person”. Why can’t the masculine have divine love? Why does a patriarchal system diminish divine love? When did masculine become so automatically equated with everything bad?
In a word, WTF?
Am I alone in seeing this as yet another bullet in the assault on masculinity in modern culture?
What are our children going to be thinking when they get old enough to form their own intimate relationships? That it’s inevitable that boys are going to act like jerks and be hostile/aggressive/violent/mean while girls are inherently more in touch with ‘the divine”, better, more enlightened and peaceful?
Good God, who hornked up that pablum? As a female who cooks, sews, but also shovels the driveway, fixes the computer and hauls the vehicles to the shop, I can’t understand why anyone would want to choose perpetual victimization as a lifestyle. I strongly suspect whenever I see workshops (or “playshops,” I guess) of that ilk that they are conducted more for the benefit of the person conducting them than for the attendees – personally and fiscally.
A balanced approach to this is something my executive coach Patty Beach has been championing for over a decade now.
Check out here site, including her “Beyond Mars/Venus” blog.
She is a Boulder resident and is a fantastic exec coach. Also with her partner Jennifer they have a very powerful program called Leadership Smarts for businesses looking to build serious bench strength in their leadership teams.
I do think it is partly the community you live in too – we don’t have workshops like this up here in interior Alaska. If you want a workshop on how to trap or gun safety .. we’re your community. I doubt many of us even understand what a ‘mother’ wound is!
All healing is important, it brings up back to a place where we can look at the world a little more objectively. A little more compassion in the dialogue department is always helpful. ‘Empathy building workshops. Its hard to look at from a perspective of poverty, but there’s spiritual poverty to contend w/ as well. hmm. Keep the healing cycle well connected. \*
Thanks for all the thoughtful comments. I have to say, however, that I have no idea what you’re saying in your comment, Greg. Can you explain it in another way?
Dave…this is the kind of “Workshop” that only happens in college towns…and especially ones like Boulder. People with too much time in academia and not enough time in “the world”. Ah well…best life lesson ever… “People are weird units”. 🙂
Deftly handled, Dave. I appreciate your big masculine presence, and love that you’ve factored the children into this urgent collective conversation.
Dave, Thank you for inviting this conversation! I think it is so helpful and necessary to question collective agreements on words like feminine, masculine, love and especially, the word healing.
I disagree that it happens only in college towns like boulder –i experienced this kind of thing in small rural places in central mexico, northern michigan and northern new mexico too. i think it is something that is perpetuated by new age language –which can be spoken anywhere. It is pretty viral in boulder however! I don’t think academics are creating this. Especially because they are generally taught how to think critically, and if you think critically about things you are going to question the validity of a statement such as ‘divine love is inherently feminine’
[[ this is a comment I sent via email, but am publishing on Dave’s encouragement ]]
Dave, I love your reaction/rebuttal. Thank you for sharing it. I want to respond to you from another perspective.
I’m a woman. I was once immersed in Divine Feminine/Divine Love explorations. I later became a divine feminine drop out. I was much happier and balanced and real after this choice even though I seem to have fewer female friends as a result of it! I’m irritated by the statement you referred to also. My irritation doesn’t mean that I haven’t yet healed my feminine side or my masculine side or that I have mother issues or that I’m not spiritually evolved enough or that I’m allergic to spirituality or am harboring the anti-christ (all of which I’ve been accused of at some time for questioning new age collective agreements on love and divine this or that). I’m irritated because I believe statements such as this perpetuate the very split they are trying to heal.
Since when is love feminine and who said so and why is this statement so commonly agreed upon without question?
I spent a lot of money quite a few years ago to become part of a collective of women exploring the divine feminine and ceremonial arts. We were committed to healing our relationship to the feminine, the goddess, spirituality, love, our mother wounds and our feminine wounds. There were things that were helpful to my understanding of goddess worship and feminine archetypes in myth, but there were things that seemed extremely fishy and out of balance to me.
I didn’t feel that the program made me a better, more evolved, more divine or loving or more integrated human being. It created some unconscious arrogance in me. It conditioned me to agree to things that didn’t really make sense to me. It perpetuated a split in terms of how I viewed myself and the world, ‘spiritual’ and ‘not spiritual’ ‘sacred’ and ‘not sacred’ ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’. It polarized me and life far more even though I was actually trying to heal that split.
I agreed with other women (and some men) that it was the fault of the patriarchy -that surely, there was a time when we lived in harmony with everything, a time when the matriarchy ruled and it was better. It made me see the masculine and men as less than. I romanticized things that I really don’t know anything about because they happened so freakin’ long ago before i or my immediate ancestors lived on this earth. It encouraged me to capitalize abstract words like ‘Spirit’ and ‘Love’ and ‘Goddess’ and ‘Divine Feminine’ and ‘Wounded’ and ‘Ego.’
It turned me into a person with a lot of judgments about men and women and reality that didn’t seem like judgments because they were shrouded in new age divine language and upheld by unquestioned collective agreements and playshops and self-help programs and intention setting and healing and transformative this’es and that’s. Ultimately, it made me more of a spiritual asshole.
I found that you really aren’t supposed to question the Divine This or That in Boulder, Colorado. Because it is Divine and it implies opposite of the capitalized Ego and its Masculine Surrogates, it is Sacred territory. Fuck that.
I am going to have a baby girl in a month and I do not want to raise her to see herself as better than the boys because she is a girl or that she has access to love in a way that boys don’t (and that loving isn’t intrinsically masculine. If love were actually divine wouldn’t it be intrinsically essential to the core of any human being regardless of masculine or feminine?
I like to love. And I can be aggressive. I like to fuck and I like to fight. I also like to make love and make peace. None of this means I’m more or less divine, or more or less masculine or feminine. I can’t stand the polarization of language into ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ anymore. I can tell the difference biologically or physically for the most part, but spiritually or emotionally? What is ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ and who is the authority on that? I’m the authority of my humanness. And my humanness doesn’t see itself as masculine or feminine the way that it was once conditioned to.
I wish the people who wish to grow new languages would explain them in greater detail and do the hard work of sorting, discerning, researching, and questioning what the fuck they are saying. I suppose this feeling on my part is too critical and therefore part of The Ego and the Masculine Surrogate in me. Oh well. Fuck that too.
It’s tricky to navigate the language of the new age. I need to reiterate that I think the language of new age spirituality has created enormous splits in the way we see and experience ourselves and life –despite its good intentions to ‘heal’ those splits. It has conditioned us to not question and think about what we are really truly saying. We’re so accustomed to it for the sake of being better and more and more healed. whatever that word ‘heal’ means. The trouble is,I think, the more you seek to heal the Feminine and Masculine wounds, and seek Divine Love the more hostile and challenging the world becomes and the less you see love in ordinary and unassuming ways.
Anyway, that’s my bitchy two cents.
You make some excellent points here. I wanted to comment on the “inevitable” question that you raise at the end of your post. The idea that men are inevitably mean and that girls are inevitably more divine is (and always has been) laughable to me. As a woman raised by her father, I often find men to be more loyal and supportive and women to be more critical and conditional, but I think that’s a personal tendency of mine. I prefer to think of equality as seeing the individual, versus trying to view either gender in stereotypes. Yes, I know many wise, powerful, giving women, and many weak, conniving, malicious men. But the reverse is also true.
Hi Dave, Your comments do reflect a common misconception: the world view of the term masculine is often confused with the shadow side of masculine energy.
Masculine and feminine energy have both positive and negative sides. Over time we cycle from one side to the other. Something like this masculine good – lean too far to the masculine side, fall in shadow masculine, antidote is positive feminine, then lean too far to the feminine side, fall into shadow feminine, antidote is positive masculine and so on. Right now we are in the part of the cycle shifting from negative masculine to positive feminine – but we will eventually shift back.
Many believe that feminine energy and masculine energy can’t co-exist. The unexamined belief is that if one is right the other must be wrong etc.
The notion that feminine energy kills the masculine and vice versa comes from an either/or mentality that just doesn’t understand how the masculine and feminine polarity works (the cycle I mention above).
When understood as a polarity you learn to see masculine and feminine energy as interdependent opposites. The grail is to embrace the positive of both sides and to avoid the shadow of both sides by dancing back and forth depending upon the challenge at hand.
There definitely is a divine masculine – this occurs when a person has that lightning bolt moment of clarity, when a person courageously charges into a burning building to rescue a child, and when a person stands in their truth with strong integrity. The divine masculine is very different from the divine feminine but is no less divine!
Both men and women have both masculine and feminine energy and aspects. That is why it’s true you do know women with masculine characteristics and vice versa, but that doesn’t mean that masculine energy doesn’t exist. Fortunately our wiring makes it a bit easier for men to hold up the masculine end of the stick and women the feminine. This is natures way of keeping us in creative tension so the world doesn’t spin out of control. There are, of course exceptions to the rule. In the past, embracing feminine for men and masculine for women was taboo but thankfully that paradigm is shifting giving us all more freedom and angles to be effective.
You are so right, it is plain dumb to knock masculine energy as it is a wonderful aspect of both men and women. If we ever lose masculine energy in men and/or women by vilifying masculinity and/or men humanity will indeed be sunk!
In summary – it is worthwhile to answer your WTF question because it really is messed up to reduce masculine energy to its shadow side.
I forgot to mention that my polarity workshops do “heal the father within”. I keep hearing from men like Roger who attended my workshop years ago that it was one of the first times that they had experienced true validation of masculine energy in a workshop setting and in mixed company. I would love to see you in one some time. You would definitely add plenty of positive energy with your divine masculine energy.