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Empower the Feminine Part 2

What Happed to the Feminine?
How the Feminine got denigrated and how it affects us all today

Let’s Start from the Beginning
I am no historian, and I do not pretend to have a full grasp of exactly what happened to create the massively Masculine skewed world we live in, but I will try to explain things the way I understand them. Studying the subject of how the Feminine got to be so demonised, denigrated and made to feel useless has given me a huge insight into my own relationship with my femaleness and some reasons behind why so many of my Belly Dancing students come to class with such a staggering disconnection to their female bodies.

“Studying the subject of how the Feminine got to be so demonised has given me a huge insight into why so many of my Belly Dancing students come to class with such a staggering disconnection to their female bodies.”

In her miraculous book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom Dr Christiane Northrup explains: “Western civilization has rested for the last five thousand years on the mythology of patriarchy, the authority of men and fathers. If, as Jamake Highwater says, ‘all human beliefs and activities spring from an underlying mythology,’ then it is easy to make the connection that our culture is totally ‘ruled by the father’, our view of our female bodies and even our medical system also follows male-oriented rules”.

The three patriarchal (Masculine based) religions; Christianity, Judaism and Islam all share their version of the creation story. Whether or not you believe in this story, it is a symbolic picture of the history of the world’s relationship to Gender. The story of creation has shaped the beliefs of generations upon generations of any family tree based in one of these three religions. Whether we like it or not, or believe in it or not is a different matter. It is the truth of our history and it has shaped reality over the last five thousand years.

In the story of creation Eve’s sexuality was the reason why we are all sinners, and Adam, although he chose to eat the apple still rules supreme, pure, all good and all righteous. As my grandmother pointed out to me recently in an impassioned bid to save Eve’s legacy; it’s not as if he had no will or no say in his eating of the apple. “God” told Adam not to touch the apple, He didn’t tell Eve. So Adam was the messenger, yet he went on and ate the damn thing. One would assume from this story that Eve was physically bigger and stronger than Adam, so much so that she was single-handedly able to pin him down and shove the apple right down his throat, totally against his will. Give us all a break!

Quoting Dr Northrup again “The Judaeo-Christian cosmology that informs Western civilization sees the female body and female sexuality in the person of Eve as responsible for the downfall of mankind. For thousands of years, women have been beaten, abused, burned at the stake and blamed for all manner of evil simply because of their sex. We forget, in this era of rapid change, that women did not even start to win the right to vote until the twentieth century!

In 1953 in her book The Second Sex Simone de Beauvoir wrote, “Man enjoys the great advantage of having a god endorse the code he writes. And since man exercises a sovereign authority over women it is especially fortunate that this authority has been vested in him by the Supreme Being. For the Jews, Mohammedans and Christian among others, man is master by divine right; the fear of God will therefore repress any impulse towards revolt in the downtrodden female.’ The belief that men are meant to be rulers of women runs deep in many Western traditions.”

Someone, somewhere down the chain of command of the exclusively male political movements that used religion to rule the people of old, decided to make the Feminine evil, and everything she stands for became forbidden. Why did they feel a need to do this is the question. Why obliterate exactly 50% of the truth of all living things, and walk around pretending that there is only a masculine spirit (there is a God, but no Goddess; symbolic entities for the Masculine and Feminine in life), and only masculine beings (men and boys) are valid, and have the right to lead and rule and shape past, present and future?

What were the shapers of patriarchy, the rulers of old, trying to take out of people’s lives and people’s experience is the answer to this burning question. What is it about the Feminine that threatened their sense of power?

The Feminine – A Key to Personal Power
By excluding the Feminine we got disconnected to our own built-in guidance system. This inner guidance system is our own innate connection to wisdom. Every human being is born with it, but most of us get systematically disconnected from it. This guidance system has the power to show each and every individual their own unique truthful path in every moment of the day; be it an unknown short-cut while driving your car, how best and most truthfully and lovingly to deal with your toddler’s tantrum, or bigger decisions like who to marry and what to do for a living that would make you happy.

Our inner guidance system is experienced on a sensual level; it is that inner voice we hear through our emotions and feelings that course through our bodies. The historical move to kill the Feminine created a world-wide distrust in our own “gut feel”, our intuition, and our own imagination. How else could rulers rule if everyone walked around believing they were powerful beings able to create lives they loved?

“Every human has their own two way walkie-talkie to “God” in every moment of the day, but the machine needed to use it is the body. Disconnection to our bodies, and the inner guidance and feelings that course through our bodies, is how that phone line was cut.”

Of course with our own inbuilt connection to truth and wisdom obliterated, we need someone bigger than us, someone more knowledgeable than us, someone with a telephone line to “God” to tell us how to live our lives, and control every ounce of power we were born with. Enter the clergy and politicians.

If you really stop to think about it, it is sickening. Every human has their own two way walkie-talkie to “God” in every moment of the day, but the machine needed to use it is the body. Disconnection to our bodies, distrust of inner guidance and feelings that course through our bodies, and the demeaning of emotions is how that phone line was cut. If you are disconnected to your body, your senses, your “sensuality”, your Feminine, you live in powerlessness.

Beyond our personal connection to inner guidance, other effects of the denigration of the Feminine are alive and well in today’s world, and touch all of us in very powerful ways. The West especially seems to suffer from this malaise; thinking is more valued than feeling and work is more valued than nurturing. We are living in a world were money is more important than well-being and peace; logic and reason rule over “airy-fairy” intuition and instinct. Mind is winning over Heart, and our lives and the planet are suffering for it. In today’s world, the Masculine is admirable, the Feminine a joke.

But things are changing; the rise of the Feminine in human consciousness is happening, and is embodied on a mass scale in examples such as Al Gore’s film “The Inconvenient Truth” and how Mother Nature is shaking up the world demanding to bring back the balance in the way we live our lives. Also mass produced and widely acclaimed documentaries such as “The Secret” (see article footnote) are another example of the market demand for more information on how to empower the Feminine in our lives.

How Deep Does the Dagger Go?
You might be thinking: “Na, not me! I grew up in a progressive family where women where equal to men. This stuff doesn’t apply to my life”. Think again. The depth of the dagger that has been plunged into the heart of the Feminine is of unknown proportions. It is everywhere. It is in the air we breathe. The affects of this are so tightly woven into the tapestry of our lives and our psyches it is near impossible to express in a short article of this kind.

This is not defeatist, neither am I looking to blame society or men for why things are the way they are. This is simply the truth of what five thousand years of living within a system does on a social level, as well as each individual’s reality.

As I study this subject more, I am at times stunned speechless by the examples I come across in daily life. Here are a few illustrations of how this demonisation of the Feminine has infiltrated to even the minutest of daily experiences:

I was at a family gathering for Christmas, and the subject of left-handedness came up. A family member who grew up in Iraq told us of how he was forced to use his right hand when he was a child. His parents used to cut his left hand, then bandage it up and tell him he was not allowed to use his bleeding throbbing left hand despite the fact that he was left-handed. He grew up in a good Christian household in the Middle East and was brought up by good sane parents. It was just the done thing.

It is widely recognised that the left side of the body is controlled by the right side of the brain – the Feminine side responsible for creativity, intuition and imagination. This man was a born poet and writer. Imagine how these actions beat his creativity out of him on a subconscious level.

It didn’t stop there; his wife who grew up in England then piped up and said that she too was left-handed growing up, and she got systematically beaten on the left hand at school whenever she used it! I started to find out that this malaise knew no boundaries, existing across different cultures, religions and generations.

My own upbringing was especially cruel to my Feminine nature. Raised in both the West and the Middle East by Iraqi parents, the message was loud and clear from early childhood. I still remember the day my mother told me about how my grandmother (from my father’s side) walked out of the delivery room in dismay when she knew I was a girl. My mother's own father was famous in their neighborhood for disappearing for six whole months, not wanting to enter the house when she herself was born a girl; such was his disappointment in her femaleness.

What cruelty to be brought up feeling so wretched, worthless and unlovable simply because of the body you were born into. How could anyone do that to a child, born with complete joy and beauty and power, just to be torn to shreds over having ovaries instead of testicles?

“How could anyone do that to a child, born with complete joy and beauty and power, just to be torn to shreds over having ovaries instead of testicles? “

We all know this happens in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, but what about so-called developed countries? In her 1995 book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom Dr Northrup makes this startling admission: “I have been in the delivery room countless times when a female baby is born and the woman who has just given birth looks up at her husband and says ‘Darling, I’m sorry’ – apologizing because the baby is not a son! The self-rejection of the mother herself, apologizing for the product of her own nine-month gestation period, labour and delivery, is staggering to experience. Yet when my own second daughter was born, I was shocked to hear those very words of apology to my husband come right up into my brain from the collective unconscious of the human race. I never said them out loud, and yet they were there in my head – completely unbidden. I realized then how old and ingrained is this rejection of the female by men and women alike!”

As I read this I burst into tears. So this denigration of girls, and the Feminine they manifest, is not limited to so-called third world countries, or previous centuries. The same malaise is alive and well, here and now, in the West.

The female body, feeling life as opposed to thinking it, sensuality, and the expression of emotions, femininity, and everything else that is of a Feminine nature has become demonised. The result is generations upon generations of women disconnected to their true femininity, deprived of a joyful experience of their feminine bodies, and what it really means to be female.

Dr Northrup goes on to say “Our culture gives girls the message that their bodies, their lives and their femaleness demand an apology. Have you noticed how often women apologise? I was walking down the street recently when a man ran into a woman who was walking by, causing her to drop a package. She apologised profusely. Somewhere deep inside many of us is an apology for our very existence”.

Self-Investigation
Do you think you haven’t been affected by the denigration of the Feminine? Read this list and be viciously honest with yourself. If you find yourself replying “yes” to any of these questions, you may want to investigate further on how the Feminine was and/or is denigrated in your life:

You feel guilty when you rest.

You apologise for crying or showing upset emotion.

You don’t know what to do with yourself on a holiday.

You make sure you keep your “happy face” on.

In relationships, you bottle up your feelings.

You have trouble asking for help or asking for something you want or need.

You don’t let people do things for you even when they offer.

You’re always in a rush.

You have trouble knowing what you would truly love in life.

How you look takes up more of your attention than how you feel e.g. how a relationship or job looks to people is more important than how it makes you feel inside.

You tell yourself or others to “get over it” when depressed or scared or feeling any other “negative” emotion.

You have hardness about you; in your body you are stiff and in your mentality you are hard edged and highly strung or aggressive.

Making things perfect is more important than how they feel to you and everyone involved.

You never take a route you don’t know or one that hasn’t been prescribed or recommended by someone else.

You move fast through the day; physically and mentally. Slowing down somehow doesn’t feel right, or you don’t know how to do it, or it simply scares you.

When you engage in a job or a creative process, you are more interested in ambition and competition and how you size up against others, than you are in how fulfilling the process is for you and how it makes you feel.

You regularly take prescription drugs such as pain killers and anti-depressants.

You regularly take alcohol or drugs to give you a lift.

You clean the house obsessively.

You work so much you don’t see family or friends.

For Mothers:

Your work makes you feel more valid than raising your children does.

You could not live with the judgment your husband, your extended family, and society would make of you if you gave up work to nurture the children.

When asked the proverbial question “What do you do?” you say

“Ummm, I’m just a stay at home mum” and feel you need to justify your existence in some other way.

You don’t listen to how you feel when it comes to raising your child, instead you take what doctors, “experts” and books say as gospel.

You tell your boy not to cry.

You tell your girl to stay happy and “cheer up” when she expresses sadness.

If you control-cry your baby, you don’t feel anything; or you push your feelings down and just do it anyway because you were told to by an authority figure such as a nurse, your mother or a book.

You believe your mortgage/lifestyle/career or any other head-driven acquisition is the reason why you can’t stay home and look after your baby. (Note: this is a real issue for many couples who are mortgaged beyond the earning capacity of one partner, but that mortgage/lifestyle is always a free choice. This is one example of money being made more important than heart’s desires, Masculine more important than Feminine, the heart gets pushed down and told to shut up at the expense of personal happiness and the child’s experience of babyhood/childhood).

You are so disconnected from your body and needs you look after everyone else before yourself, which usually means you have nothing left to give. You are in a constant state of either burn-out or denial of how empty you really feel.

You try to look constantly “happy” for everyone else’s benefit, which leads to denial of your needs and any issues that come up for you. You invalidate your own negative feelings as useless or dangerous to the harmony of the home, instead of seeing them as messengers that something isn’t right for you, something that needs your attention.

You put your dreams “on hold” to support your man’s dreams and ambitions.

How did you go? Still think you are not affected by the degradation of the Feminine?

Please go to Part 3 of this series Empower the Feminine P3 – How Belly Dance Empowers Your Feminine Spirit. It talks about how Belly Dancing helps empower the Feminine in you, and balance out personal relationship to Gender.

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Footnote:

To learn about your inner guidance system, and how it enables anyone to create a life they love, I highly recommend you watch “The Secret DVD”. Visit www.thesecret.tv/home.html. I bought my copy off eBay - the best AU$49 I’ve ever spent! This DVD will introduce you to the “Creative Process” or what is becoming more commonly known as “The Law of Attraction”. If you marry the secret of The Law of Attraction to the universal truths of the Principle of Gender, you will be able to fine-tune a very powerful creative ability in your life.