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Waves of Feminism
Gender Equality Begins Within
Making Love not War

 

“In each of us two powers preside, one male, one female… The androgynous mind is resonant and porous… naturally creative, incandescent and undivided.”Virginia Woolf

In 2015 in cosmopolitan London, England, rabbis from a Hasidic sect suggest to release a decree that would ban women from driving their children to school. In Nigeria, Pakistan, and many other countries girls have to fight for their right to go to school.

Discrimination, used by people to assert their power, has always proven to achieve the opposite. It backfires, leaves us fearful and feeling threatened by those over whom we try to establish some artificial superiority.

Treating others as equal is empowering, not just for the other. Nowhere has this been shown more clearly than in the movement towards gender equality. Three waves of feminism have shaped our culture in the past couple of centuries, and none of them were exclusively about women.

 

Waves of Feminism

“Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.”Kofi Annan

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the first wave of feminism swept through the world. The early feminists were also called ‘suffragettes’, from the French word suffrage, meaning the right to vote. It focused on the political rights of women to be recognised as equal citizens.

Feminism was much more than a women’s movement. It was a social, political, and economic revolution. The German philosopher, social scientist and political theorist Friedrich Engels wrote: “The emancipation of woman will only be possible when woman can take part in production on a large, social scale, and domestic work no longer claims anything but an insignificant amount of her time.”

The second wave of feminism started in Europe in the 1950s. It focused more on reproductive and marital rights, the fight against domestic violence and sexual exploitation, and for sexual emancipation of women.

The 1970s were an exciting era. In Berlin the first women’s bookshop, cafés, and a nightclub were opened. They were for women only, and some feminist men were understandably upset about that. We were reading Anaïs Nin, Simone de Beauvoir, and EMMA, the feminist magazine published by the German editor Alice Schwarzer.

The second wave of feminism resulted in giving women the questionable privilege to dress like men, behave like men, work in ‘male’ positions, and die from ‘male’ stress-related diseases. While it certainly increased the financial, sexual and economic independence of many women, the fundamental issues of gender inequality remained untouched.

The current third wave of feminism is no longer about political rights, economic independence, or sexual freedom, but about recognition as individuals independent of gender. It is about our struggle to be human and to rise beyond sexual polarisation.

There is a growing understanding that the empowerment of women also leads to the empowerment of men, that it is about establishing a healthy balance within our humanity, where all can thrive and find their natural place.

 

Gender Equality Begins Within

“We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society.”Angela Davis

In parallel with the perceived differences and resulting conflicts between man and woman we can observe a discrimination against the feminine principle within our own Consciousness. The outer discrimination against women has always been accompanied by an internal kind of sexist attitude towards certain aspects of ourselves. The most obvious example is our discrimination against our own emotions.

Human emotions are commonly associated with the feminine principle. They are called ‘irrational’, and for a very long time they have been considered to be ‘inferior products of the human mind’.

Rational thoughts, by contrast, are commonly associated with the masculine principle. They are considered ‘superior expressions of the mind’. This value judgment is still going strong.

When we discriminate against people and suppress them, they resent us. They fight against the injustice imposed upon them. They want to be free to express themselves and realise their potential. The same is true for the Inner People. If we suppress them they rebel against us.

The role of the inner feminine is not to be the slave of the inner masculine. The discrimination against the inner feminine is disempowering, not just for ‘her’, but also for ‘him’ and for the entire human microcosm.

What makes us assume that we can split off parts of ourselves at random without adverse effects?

 

Making Love not War

“Whenever two good people argue over principles, they are both right.”Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

As long as we suppress the non-rational parts of our Consciousness – and these are not just our emotions – we live in an ongoing internal conflict. Our inner world is effectively a war zone with occasional phases of truce.

The slightest trigger can make a conflict flare up in a certain area. Often cumulative inner stress and resentment undermine the fragile internal equilibrium.

Trying to maintain peace by rational means of control is not only stressful. It is also about as effective as wanting to sustain life by setting nature in concrete.

A radical alternative strategy would be to cultivate a loving relationship between the masculine and feminine aspects of ourselves. Why is that so hard?

I’m guessing it’s because we don’t yet understand how it works. We associate love with pleasure, romance and happiness. We don’t realise that it must include loving our pain and fears. So they’re left to struggle in the dark, lowering the tone, dragging us down, preparing the next internal war.

Love takes courage. It takes trust that the apparent ugly aspects of ourselves will transform into something valuable. It takes practice to discover that empowering unreasonable emotions and other ‘inner females’ is safe and desirable, that their naked truth can actually help us become more loveable.

 

This article is complemented by an e-letter published on the same date. Our epic letter contains a link to the audio version of this article, a practical exercise, some carefully selected illustrations, and more. This information is available only to the select tribe of our subscribers. If you don’t want to miss our inspiring and exclusive Friday Letters in the future, subscribe now.

 

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