It is all too easy for us to believe that patriarchy is something from our distant past, thanks to the hard work and sacrifices of countless dedicated feminists over the last century and longer. Their work regained and restored many of the rights and privileges that women enjoyed prior to patriarchy. As a result of their efforts, we now have the right to vote, work, and divorce, to name but a few.
But in reality, patriarchy is not something from our past. It continues to express itself today in the many virulent, yet often disguised or subtle forms of abuse that every woman encounters every day in our culture. Contemporary forms of patriarchal abuse continue to adversely affect women psychologically and spiritually.
Contemporary forms of patriarchal abuse can range from very subtle and confusing emotional and verbal abuse to actual physical violence, including battering and rape.
The thing to remember here is that whenever a person is the target for any of these forms of abuse, that person is being subjected to patriarchal power-over behavior on the part of the abuser.
I highly recommend that all women read Patricia Evans’ book, “The Verbally Abusive Relationship,” which clearly defines the most common forms of patriarchal abuse, and offers very helpful advice to women for recognizing and dealing with each of them. On page 81, Evans offers a list titled “The Categories of Verbal Abuse,” which includes: Withholding; Countering; Discounting; Verbal abuse disguised as jokes; Blocking and diverting; Accusing and blaming; Judging and criticizing; Trivializing; Undermining; Threatening; Name calling; Forgetting; Ordering; Denial; and Abusive anger.
Feminist shamanism addresses all levels of patriarchal abuse, including the deeply internalized, often hidden levels of abuse so many women have suffered as children and young girls.
You might think of feminist shamanism, whether you experience it through feminist shamanic counseling, as a personal feminine practice, or simply by reading my feminist shamanic publications, as a kind of antidote to contemporary patriarchal abuse of women. To inform yourself of patriarchy’s roots, its symptoms, and its historical and contemporary impact on women and indigenous cultures, I recommend that you read the following books:
The Serpent and the Goddess: Women, Religion, and Power in Celtic Ireland by Mary Condren
The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions by Paula Gunn Allen
The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans