When women thrive so too can the earth, everything and everyone else.
Equality is one of those things that only works multilaterally. We tend to see and approach subjects and issues in isolation, but when it comes to the quality of our lives and all kinds of equality, whether issues of race, gender, wealth or any other form everything is intrinsically connected. Achievements or failings chalked up in one area are to the benefit or detriment of the whole. Nurture Culture is dependent upon an ability for society to be able to act and live fairly, and nurturing is the compassion that would further propagate and ensure ongoing equality in a nice loop of expanding continuum.
Our need for gender equality far exceeds blatant discrimination in terms of opportunity, salary and promotion in the work place. Prejudice against women and the lack of respect and cherishing of the feminine is one of the biggest contributors to the problems that we, as a species face today.
Let me express a perspective about women and what has been ingrained in us:
Since we are kids we are taught that we have to behave in certain ways and compete, (this is taught to everyone irrespective of gender) then the goal is often simply to get the prince. The expectation is that we will grow up to become beautiful, sexy, intelligent and capable, yet even when we achieve all of these we are undermined by society, culture and in our careers. The whole goal of the present system is to get to the top and we are taught that being on the top means getting ahead of all other women friends first. As for ambitions regarding relationships; if we want the top man; well we had better carry an axe because everyone knows that women have to fight very hard for that ultimate goal!
I am becoming increasingly aware of the psychosis of society*1 When generations of us are bought up to believe that inherited wealth, exploitation of other nations etc, etc is the norm and when these feature in our childhood stories such as Cinderella, the Princess and the Pea and Rapunzel we can expect that a vicious personality can emerge from within us all. We are taught to feel that we need to get ahead of the other girls by having the right shoe size, to bruise easily or the longest magical hair if we want esteem, that rare job or the prince. After applying the Bechdel test.*2 to the media and entertainment that we are subjected to it is evident that our culture actually despises women! Our minds are poisoned against each other since birth. It is a credit to our gender that we are still functioning.
There is a reason for all this curtailing of women's rights and repression. Centuries ago women were using our natural powers of empathy and instinct to simply know things. We could understand the situations and the people involved to such a degree that we could pre-empt what may happen, having got it right many times and much to the astonishment of the empathy and nuance lacking males it must have seemed that we were able to predict the future, like we had a superpower. Women are also in the position to determine whose baby we will carry (another superpower which not only predicts the future but actually builds the future!) These put the male gender and the masculine in to a vulnerable position and thus the oppression of women started, we were burnt as witches or deemed whores. Modern day culmination of this is in everything from daily disempowering on a systematic and domestic level up to atrocities such as rape culture, honour killings and sex slavery. Women were punished for our skills and our sexuality and gender traits were suppressed.
And we still have not dug ourselves out from under this.
One would think that we would have united by now against this abhorrent tyranny, but the oppressors have always instinctively known that if you divide the repressed they will be too busy bickering among themselves to give any bother to those on top. Hence the use of polarization (divide and rule methods) by authoritarian regimes and the patriarchy. By creating smaller hierarchy battles lower down the ladder the oppressed are effectively kept busy and occasionally satisfied with their small wins so they leave the big guys unhindered in their world domination.
It is not surprising therefore that often women are horrible to other women and girls are horrible to other girls. Though this mentality is world wide the added complications of religious, cultural, social, economical and political female oppression further accentuates competitive natures or at least hinders collaborative behaviour. Girls then become victims of girls who are responding as victims of this culture. I will go as far to say that as woman we are all suffering a kind of Stockholm Syndrome*3, undermining our fellow captives to gain the attention of our captors while somehow grateful to and enamoured with their strength and benevolence. We truly are prisoners of this patriarchal system to which most of will have served a life sentence!
I am not afraid though, just as the male sensed the incredible power that the feminine traits carry I sense that these will emerge strong enough after centuries lying dormant and despite tragic underuse. With a bit of practice we should be able to put our instinctive skills to extreme good use, to the benefit of all. And that is the point: The true essence of the female is one that stands beside and connected to herself and other woman, female and the feminine. She sees the value of man, male and masculine and she can perceive it fully, not only because she has empathy, but because she too carries it, and relies upon it as an equally essential part of our species and a priceless gift of our ancestral heritage.
It is essential to facilitate the emergence of our inner feminine, that feminine exists in the male too, no matter how macho, every man has an X besides his Y. While denial has been detrimental to our species embracing this fact can take us forwards in leaps and bounds. As we learn to collaborate, first as woman to woman, accentuating each other's strengths we must also embrace the wounds and fears of the masculine that so desperately needs to feel secure as it relinquishes the key to our chains. We have to convince the patriarchy that (crimes aside) they won't be punished and this is not a power pendulum swing, this is not a revolution for which we will pay with centuries of counter domination and revenge. This will be a world where we can just get on with the job in hand; creating a safe and happy nest for our entire species.
Ways to facilitate equality and meaningful connection.
- Learning about the essence of nurture and extending that to our fellow women.
- Actively supporting women everywhere such as in the work place, your neighbour, advocate women's causes, donate to charities, join groups and certainly by curtailing attacks and disparagement of women especially when (when u look at it) you can see that the justification for these are caused by hierarchy struggles and manufactured by the oppressors.
- We should not allow criticism of other women (how they look, what they wear, their capabilities, their approach or whatever) to be continued via us.
- Be a wall! A wall against the current of woman belittling. It's a tool used by our witless captors. Let the negative talk and energy just hit us and watch it melt and laugh in its face.
- Take the hand of the women that is being belittled or denigrated and say "hey... lets go get a coffee!". Let's go talk about how we can support each other, whether it's simple stuff like helping each other and sticking up for each other in a work environment, or baking a cake for her kids seeing as she doesn't have time, or just sitting and holding her hand, have you ever tried that, Silent solidarity is an amazingly powerful thing.
- Talk about everything, share our fears and our strengths and explore each others worlds.
- Talk about women's things. Discuss birth control and your orgasms, learn stuff and become empowered (women do talk about this, but many don't-can't). If you feel a woman you knows might have a problem with something. Just tell her "I see you, I'm here if you want to talk..." You can open up about yourself first. And if you are asking "What does talking about menstrual bleeding or the clitoris have to do with overthrowing the patriarchy?" Well the answer to that is: Everything! Step by step we can erode the chains that inhibit us and have caused us to divide. Even the mystery and miracle of our bodies has been held and used against us, despite decades of sexual enlightenment there are still millions of women who are in a muddle about their own body functions! Owning our bodies, ourselves and each other are powerful steps endowed with and propagating the capacity for nurturance and compassion.
- Challenge ourselves. There's bound to be a woman in your life, one at work, one who serves at the coffee shop or a family member. Someone that you feel you have nothing in common with, maybe you hate her, despise her. She might embody everything you dislike about your own gender. I challenge you, myself to face up to this, to give us a chance to see each other and a chance to shine through the murky lenses behind which we have been isolated and lost. I'm not saying we can become friends, or even make peace, maybe we have too deep wounds to manage that, but I believe we can gain a lot from 'seeing' her. We will liberate our power in steps such as this; by activating even just a grain of our huge capacity for love and compassion towards a woman who we have previously sent only negative energy. Once we have chipped away at our own distrust and distaste for another woman then we can actually see the same positive feelings towards ourselves and others grow in reciprocation and exponentially.
- We can agree to differ, but remember that "we will always be connected by the sacrifice we have paid as victims of this system so even just for this reason alone we can choose solidarity". It sounds crazy but I believe that by actually saying this to another is an enormously important device in setting ourselves free and for society to thrive. These kinds of communication and their proliferation and the feelings and intent behind them can soothe the way forward.
- Imagine a network, one where we can see the connections between each of us illuminated by a single golden thread of light, it creates a sparkling web that connects every single woman, whether we are old or young, mother or childless, whatever language we speak or belief system we adhere to. This is the world wide web that we need. However we create blockages in the web when we severe those threads. In this case Don't be a wall!. Let us allow the connection to travel through each of us and despite our grievances or differences, we need not be friends but we must allow the network to do its job.
- Compassion and empathy, learning, listening and being able to care are our best tools.
- Men too. Having ticked off the above and while our female powers develop we can extend them to the males around us too (including talking about sex and menstruation!) We must not mistake them for an enemy and it helps to see them as victims of a system that they have unwittingly been a party of. Let us remember that they were not around at it's inception, they have have been chugging along like us.
- Tell a new story. Especially children's stories that help kids to grow in a nurturing, collaborative way, specifically those that accentuate the importance for society of the bond between women. We must not underestimate the power of stories as they are the paving stones of the cultures we live in. The necessity is not just to create a new paradigm that empowers women, but one that encourages a nurturing society that allows the masculine trait to live equally healthily too.
- Change the whole picture. We can consider the effect of the stories we tell each other and our children.*4 The narrative we require is not about beating others, rejecting the male and getting to the top. The main characters should not be princesses and kings and such who perpetuate the brainwashing regarding hierarchy, inherited wealth and authoritarianism. The stories we choose to tickle the imaginations and accompany the growing minds and formulating opinions of our little ones must be ones where every permutation including genders, races, natural creatures or even fantastical things and the earth itself all mix in alliance, affinity and harmony. We, like the characters in the new story are on an incredible adventure, we face adversity and celebrate our achievements together and our objectives are met through collaboration. Our story is best told to reflect the fact that we thrive when we build and journey together.
- If you are a man (and you are still reading!) you may take all the above and implement them between your own gender and with the women in your life. The gender traits within you need even more attention and will be subject of a further post.
These kinds of steps are the birth of Nurture Culture and with this equality can permeate every area of our lives. All of our lives.
Note: I have kept the gender traits and titles simple here, but it is relevant for all kinds of orientation and gender identification.
*1 - Psychosis of society. Psychopathy and what I mean here is a subject of another soon to come post.
*2 - Bechdel Test
*3 - Stockholm Syndrome
*4 - I would love to read or be connected to nurturing stories from any culture, so feel free to send me any favourites.
Photo- Painting- Woman Rising. 80x60cm. Jodie Harburt.
You can see my paintings via www.jodieharburt.com