This week marks the two year anniversary of the UN’s HeForShe Solidarity Movement for Gender Equality. HeForShe invites men to join and support women in the fight for women’s equality and strives to reframe feminism from its man-hating stigma to a movement that seeks to benefit men and women alike by embracing the feminine side of our humanity.
My soul responds to this initiative and its mandate with a big yes! In the many seasons of my life — from my academic studies of feminism, gender issues and Goddess theology, my work as a gender equity consultant, my perilous healing journey with my own woman’s story in a misogynist world, my travels with the Goddess into the mysteries of the sacred feminine, and my Path of She writings — I’ve been on the trail of the lost powers and ways of the feminine elements of our humanity.
In my journey, one thing has become abundantly clear to me: what ails humanity, men and women alike, is the degradation and repression of the feminine half our nature that holds not only our nurturing and emotive capacities, but also our anchor in Mother/matter: our bodies, the natural world and the mysteries of the Divine feminine.
I would add that we women have to reach back, SheForHe, so we can heal our world together.Walking in the Other’s Shoes
The saying goes that we can’t understand another person until we walk a mile in his/her shoes. This most definitely holds true in the case of men and women. Only by actively increasing our awareness of the other gender can we begin to understand the world through their eyes and experiences.
A circle of candlelit faces gather around the center altar at a community ritual. We each speak our vows to the Goddess. I say simply, “I vow to be myself; to show up naked and unafraid.”
The path that led me to this vow began after a wake-up call many years ago. I was in my mid-twenties, totally lost in the mainstream culture, with a business education and a corporate career, living a material, achievement-driven life that neither fed my soul nor gave me joy.
My wake-up call was not gentle: a collision on a ski hill that fractured my skull and cracked my world open. I woke up four days later with a facial palsy that severely disfigured the right side of my face. For the next eight months, I found myself on the fringe, exposed to the ugly underbelly of our social order reserved for those deemed unworthy and undesirable; a place where strangers felt at liberty to cruelly ridicule, harass and repulse me.
As odd as this may seem, the experience was tremendously freeing and empowering. I had been roughly pushed out of the safe world that I knew into a harsh and abusive one, and I found that I was unafraid and undiminished. The stripping away of my outer beauty made me consciously aware of my inner beauty and strength, and of the profound circle of love and support of my family and friends.
My travels with the Goddess had begun. Like the tales of Inanna and Persephone, my awakening soul led me inward and downward, into the mysteries that underlie everyday reality and the shadowy recesses of my psyche. Layer by layer, I was stripped bare of my waking world masks, conditioning and wounding. Change came, constant and unrelenting. Anything that stood between me and my soul-based essence, what I came to know as my Deep Self, had to go.