Not too far in the past, if a woman was assertive, demanding and purposeful, she was considered a controlling bitch. On the other hand, if a woman complained about her lack of opportunity and played victim, she was considered an annoying whiner. Today, many women are looking to each other for clues as to what it truly means to be a woman.
One of the great perks of being a woman is sharing intimately with other women. I have found over and over, no matter if I am talking with a CEO, an accomplished writer, a five star mom, a longtime healer, a talented artist, … that no matter what their successes, women feel a peculiar sense of self-doubt and inferiority. I have for a long time wondered what this is about.
As someone who studies spirituality and religion, I decided to reflect on our spiritual culture to seek some answers. When focusing on this, I saw that part of the issue could be the many thousands of years we’ve been living in a patriarchal spiritual, social and cultural system. This isn’t a criticism of men by any means, but a pointing out and curiosity about how that system has affected us, both as women and men, from the inside out.
In our culture our greatest spiritual role model, God, is a “he” in imagery and language. “He” is the one we are to please, emulate and be judged by. He is the one we pray to, seek counsel from and look to for solutions. If God is male in imagery and language, wouldn’t it make sense that girls and women who are not “hes” would feel a sense of inferiority, self-doubt and perhaps never feel that they are good enough? If this is the case, I wonder if women and girls deep down inside can ever truly feel worthy.
Let’s look at another part of our spiritual and cultural heritage that may also be contributing to women’s inferiority complex: The story of Adam and Eve. For many of us, we heard this story at a very young age. In my case, I was five. Whether as a child (or adult) we regard the story as myth or truly the creation story, it permeates our culture and has made its way into our unconscious systems. A review…
(Eve) was created out of man (Adam). She was then told by an Almighty man (God) not to pick a forbidden fruit (apple). She picked it (disobedience) – gave it to Adam (unsuspecting innocence) – and from then on was said to have committed the first sin. It was that simple picking (which perhaps was due to pioneering curiosity) that is said to have led to the fall of humanity from paradise and the introduction of evil into the world. Ha!
Assuming Eve as the archetype of woman, woman here is portrayed as undisciplined, disobedient, and a sinner. Looking at it this way, it’s no wonder that women have an underlying sense of blame, shame and in many cases, a fear of questioning male authority. With this story told to us at an early age, it seems like no mystery that as girls and boys we would internalize this.
When reflecting on all of this, my question became — what happened to the time when the Almighty, the Divine, our spiritual leader was in feminine form? What happened to the honoring of our Mother God, Gaia? What happened to the ancient goddess cultures?
According to Maria Gimbutas, world-renowned archeologist, matriarchal and goddess-worshipping cultures existed as far back as 6500 B.C. Aside from the questions of why and how the shift happened away from these cultures and toward our modern-day patriarchy, I think it’s important to look at how we would feel if our spiritual leader were depicted as a woman and referred to as a “she.” Would we feel any different? What is your reaction to even considering this?
I know there is a book called, “When God Was a Woman,” which I have not read yet — but have a feeling it might shed some light on the subject. I also know that some will argue that getting caught up in duality, the feminine and masculine, is not helpful. They will say that God is Absolute and holds no gender or form. My feeling is that all the talk in the world about this, before females ever get a chance to see themselves in the image of the Divine is like skipping from kindergarten to college. We’ve spent the more recent thousands of years seeing our spiritual leader in the image of a male and I think it is going to take more than saying God is Absolute to deconstruct our unconscious belief systems.
Just to make it clear I am not advocating for erasing a male God nor am I advocating for dethroning him with a female. What I am advocating for is a remembrance and honoring of a Mother God, the Divine Feminine, as his divine and uniquely different partner.
As our hierarchies of power are shaking down and interconnection and interrelatedness are shaking wide, perhaps we have an opportunity to redefine how we see ourselves in the world and how we, as women and men, can move forward together as partners creating a world in balance.