PhDork: Maybe I shouldn’t expect much from someone billing himself as an “Awakening coach,” but this article is…a mess.
Arjuna Ardagh’s argument is that “conscious” men need to worship, meaning “pay extravagant respect to,” women. This is not just about givin’ your special lady a footrub, but also about honoring the (god it’s hard for me to type this) Feminine Divine, both within and without.
Okay. That sounds all right, I guess.
But then he seems to believe that there are these gender “energies” (at least one of which smells like patchouli).
And this paragraph that begins “The second possibility, which began to be popular in the ’60s and ’70s but still is in full force today, is dominated by shame and revenge” goes on to make every horrible anti-feminist cliche: castrating bitches and emasculated, long-haired men.
And THEN, he turns around and says men, all men, need to recognize that they have played/do play a role in gender oppression.
Is he just caught up in his Woo? Is this *any* kind of feminism, or just another pile of essentialist tripe?
BeckySharper: There’s so much squishy generalization and easy-listening Jungian archetypes going on there…Personally I’m allergic to all that New Age-y goddess-y/warrior-y archetypal stuff. I’m all for honoring the divine in our fellow humans, but I don’t think that God–as I understand God, anyway–has a gender or genderizes our personal divinity, and there’s an inherent heteronormativity to it that I dislike.
SarahMC: It’s too bad his good points are drowning in new agey claptrap. He sort of depicts masculinity and femininity, and thus, men and women, as ying and yang. He is absolutely right that The Feminine, as it were, has been disrespected and devalued throughout history (and still is). Men’s femininity is hated as much as women’s. Obviously, it would be nice to live in a world where male-bodied persons and so-called male qualities were not held in higher esteem than female-bodied persons and so-called female qualities. At the same time, I do not want to be saddled with the assumption that, because I am female-bodied, I have an inherent female energy. I guess I just quibble with the terminology of “feminine energy” and the worship of such. I don’t want to be worshiped for being a woman. I don’t want to be worshiped at all.
BeckySharper: I get suspicious of these arguments that say “men and women are inherently different because there’s masculine and feminine energy” because they tend to be a slippery slope into essentialism and reductionism. I also think it’s beside the point. I don’t need someone to respect my “feminine energy”, I need them to respect ME…my body, my thoughts, my agency, my intelligence.
But, ahem, that said, I’ll take some “extravagant respect and admiration,” thanks. As a woman I feel like I’ve often been expected to provide extravagant respect/admiration to men who don’t particularly deserve it simply because they are men. So that part works for me.
I also do like the bits about how men can/do play a role in gender oppression and how they need to acknowledge that. Because this, actually, is rather good:
First, the elephant in the room must be recognized. Women have been disenfranchised for thousands of years. Feminine energy has been given very little respect, and we have all lost out as a result. Even if you’ve never disrespected the feminine yourself, the first step is still to say “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for what we have done. I’m sorry for what my gender has done. And I come to you with a fresh start.” This is not the stance of shame, but of honesty and self-respect. Please take our words for it, and that of thousands of our colleagues and students: women love to hear this being acknowledged.
Yes. Yes, we do. I don’t necessarily need to hear it vocalized in the form of an apology, but many men simply dismiss, belittle, or outright deny how women have been mistreated and pretend as though it doesn’t have a profound effect on women AND men and our relationships. So good on him for calling it out, even if he thinks it’s our “feminine energy” that’s been disrespected, when actually, it’s our female selves.
SarahMC: I agree with you, Becky, that it is necessary for men to acknowledge the role they play in gender oppression, if not directly, then by benefiting from the privilege that comes with it. It is refreshing to read a man say that.
Michelle: I just don’t think that I’m in need of men apologizing to me for the patriarchy on an individual basis. Mostly, I think that men who would do this would do so because they want to sort of pole-vault out of responsibility by being the guy who recognizes “essences” or whatever other claptrap. I don’t think anyone needs apologies as much as they need to roll up their sleeves and actually do the work of dismantling oppression. Along any kind of axis, by the way, not just gender.
Which is why I’m suspicious of this sort of thing. I don’t mind if it’s spiritual or New Agey – what turns me off it is that it’s vague and unspecific. Again, the idea is that it’s not enough to be nice to all the women you encounter or even to “worship them” (again, whatever the hell that means). The idea is to actually do something about the things that are wrong with the world.