Dealing with Contemporary Patriarchy, Part One

"Portrait of a Woman" Acrylic on gessoed paper 20 x 24" - Early work - 1970s

“Portrait of a Woman”
Acrylic on gessoed paper
20 x 24″ – Early work – 1970s

Have you ever been told you’re “too emotional” when you express hurt or sadness or confusion in response to the way a loved one is treating you? Have you ever been told by an intimate partner, family member, friend, teacher, or boss that your perception of reality is flawed, or that you have a personality defect, or a “problem,” or that what just happened didn’t happen, or that you take things too personally when you seek to resolve the issue by telling them how you feel in response to the way they’re treating you? Do you know only that you felt bad in such instances, but not how to deal with them? Do you know the name of the cultural paradigm behind the way you’re being treated in such instances? Many of us go through life never understanding that the hidden intent behind the cultural paradigm responsible for these kinds of hurtful behaviors is to gain power over us; to thwart us; to hold us back; to keep us “down,” and to gain control over our thoughts and actions on every level. This cultural paradigm has a name. Its name is Patriarchy.  Many of us believe that patriarchy is a thing of the distant past, not realizing that as women, we deal with very intentful forms of contemporary patriarchy on pretty much a daily basis.  Often we fail to realize that hurtful or confusing words and behaviors we encounter on a daily basis, whether in our intimate and family relationships, at work, in the classroom, or sometimes even in the grocery store, are expressions of contemporary patriarchy. Naming something for what it is, is the first step in understanding it. Understanding it is the first step in becoming able to free ourselves from it.

But then, once we’ve named and understood something, and want to free ourselves from it, we’re faced with the question: How, exactly, do I go about doing that?  Since the late 1700s, women in this country have been addressing patriarchal abuses in various ways. We have used social and political methods of doing so, and have made many gains, and yet, we are still dealing with patriarchal attitudes and behaviors in contemporary culture. Why is this? One of the reasons is that patriarchy is all about males exercising power over women, and the “power-over” paradigm is so deeply entrenched in most cultures in the world that most people don’t recognize it for what it is. Another reason is that most males believe, to varying degrees, that they are superior to women and either consciously or unconsciously want to control and dominate them.

"Patriarchy" w/c, ink and acrylic on gessoed paper

w/c, ink and acrylic on gessoed paper

Why do they want to do that? They want to do that because they are victims of the pathologically inflated ego consciousness which has been infecting cultural consciousness for thousands of years now. Ego consciousness is a function of the Masculine principle. It is entirely goal-oriented, and its genius lies in its ability to “get things done.” We need it. However, ego consciousness is completely lacking in Wisdom, which is a function of the Feminine principle.  Patriarchy is the result of ego-consciousness having become inflated to the point where it believes it has the right to take control of everything – not only getting things done, but also interpreting events and deciding what should be done about any given situation. In order to accomplish this goal, it must usurp the role of Feminine Wisdom. In order to usurp the role of Feminine Wisdom, which is to guide ego-consciousness towards right action in the world, it must assert itself as the ultimate authority. In order to do that, it must silence the Feminine principle, thus rendering its inherent Wisdom unavailable to women, lest they speak it and insist upon the Masculine heeding its advice.

Posted in Dealing with Contemporary Patriarchy, Part One, Patriarchy, Shamanic First Aid

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