Being Fierce Women without making men the enemy

Much is being written about recovering or restoring the sacred feminine, and none too soon in my opinion. But whenever I meet those words “recover the sacred feminine” I’m prompted to wonder about the sacred masculine and how it feels to be a man living in these patriarchal times.

While it’s true that the past few thousand years have been heavy on misogyny and the oppression of women courtesy of patriarchy, patriarchal behavior is not a manifestation of the sacred masculine. In fact, patriarchy is a warped and twisted version of sacred masculine energy.

Honoring with all my heart the degradation women live with at the hands of patriarchy, I believe that men have been soul-wounded by it, too. How could they not? I also don’t think that men are the only reason patriarchy continues to thrive.

Patriarchy is a habit of mind so well cultivated over millennia by people seeking various forms of dominance its rhythms now inhabit our unconscious thoughts, influencing our choices and actions often without us noticing.

It’s a self-perpetuating part of us, spawning an increasingly vicious antagonism between women and men, especially as women push back against patriarchal social and cultural patterns. Those invested in maintaining a patriarchal-style dominance become more aggressive. We find ourselves in a nearly intractable “us” and “them” mindset with the expression of qualities like strength or compassion being confined to a single gender, weakening both in the process. This is a lose-lose paradox we simply can’t keep feeding.

Sadly, that’s the reality we’ve been living in and it’s bloodied all of us, women and men alike. Forced by tradition and acculturation to live a twisted version of our sacred selves is soul-killing. And our world is reflecting that.

How do we stop this train?

Patriarchal beliefs and behaviors are woven into who we believe we are. To question ourselves closely about those behaviors will probably mean uncovering some deeply uncomfortable answers.

Well folks, I lovingly suggest we all get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

We need to put our full focus and attention on dissolving the patriarchy paradigm without creating an alternative soul-killing solution.

I suggest we honor the sacred feminine, recover the sacred masculine and welcome sacred oneness.

Practical application

Patriarchy is pretty overt when you start looking for it. A few examples are:

– Advertising featuring trucks “conquering” natural terrain or women whose sole function is to obsess over white-enough laundry and air fresheners.
– Organized religions functioning on systems of compliance and reward.
– Politics and governance where rigid hierarchy and power-over behaviors flourish.

Start noticing – bringing your full attention to the world around you. Don’t simply accept behaviors and attitudes as “normal.” How do they make you feel? Where and how do you see yourself participating, consciously or unconsciously?

It also covertly shows up in our interior thoughts – the ways we treat ourselves and others in our daily lives. Thoughts like “who does she/he think she/he is to…” or “who do I think I am to…” are insidious ways we try to dominate and diminish.

Evaluating people’s weaknesses to see what kind of edge we have when dealing with them is a sure sign of patriarchal thinking.

Allowing ourselves to be dominated by others or to dominate ourselves is another sign. For example, assuming we have less right to contribute because we have less education or experience is a way of silencing ourselves (and others when we model that) and hoarding/denying our unique creativity.

Again, start noticing instances when you are trying to dominate yourself or someone else. Just bring your attention to it. Notice how you feel, how you might unconsciously perpetuate the mindset. No judgement. Remember you’re unwinding thousands of years of cultural indoctrination.

Above all, be gentle with yourself…

Don’t judge! (Once more with feeling.) Resist the urge to judge yourself or anyone else! That’s just another domination artifact. Remember patriarchy is insidious and its BFF’s are silence and denial. Break the silence. Step out of denial. Be kind while you’re doing it. And if it makes your heart sing, consider yourself warmly hugged along the way.

Tracie Nichols writes poetry and facilitates group writing experiences from under the wide reach of two old Sycamore trees in southeastern Pennsylvania. She is the co-founder of the Embodied Writers writing group and a Transformative Language Artist helping women write themselves home. You can find Tracie on her website.

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