Sister GiantMarch 10th, 2010
I recently spent a weekend with Marianne Williamson . Well, with her and about 500 other women. It was an amazing, educational and transformative experience called Sister Giant, designed to re-connect us with our female power and to find ways to apply it in the world.
Of course, this wonderful yin force we are governed by loves to talk, to bond, to love. It's damn good at nurturing and picking one kid up from school before dropping the other one off at soccer practice. But what we used to called "feminism", the active acknowledgment of female power, has become a weird and tangled issue of late. First of all, the word itself has become sort of icky in our culture. Like "liberal" it has somehow made the weird slide from sunlight into shadow, as the media machine has churned it up and spit it out.
It's too bad. I guess we need a new word. Or to take the 'F' word back. Because there is a ton of female power in this country today. And, paradoxically, that's part of the problem too. We're DOING REALLY WELL, LADIES! Human history has never seen so much freedom, wealth and power among its high-heeled set. We can earn enough money to compete with the Big Boys, buy low-carb snacks with the click of a mouse, and have sex without ever getting pregnant! We are in Congress, on the Supreme Court, in the boardroom and just barely missed the White House. This time.
So why even talk about it?
Well, first of all, we need to avoid complacency. This freedom was hard won. Lest we forget that Suffragettes were imprisoned so that you and I could vote. That thousands and thousands of women were burned as witches because…well… just because. You see, it seems that the shadow of world's psyche has been regularly projected onto us, my fellow hip chicks, and since the shadow never goes away entirely, we need to stay on our toes. This lovely, upward, outward, yin force we channel needs to be honored and protected. Just because women are "free" doesn't mean there aren't countervailing forces doing push-ups, in the dark, to bring us down. And that's not paranoia. Poverty affects women more than men. Although it's slowly getting smaller, the wage gap between genders is alive and well. According to the Riley Center in San Francisco, a woman is battered in the U.S. every nine seconds, 95% of all domestic abuse is suffered by women, and domestic violence is the single most major cause of injury to women, outnumbering car accidents and muggings. And let's not forget the malignant monster which is pornography, now just a click away from every modern brain.
So are we really doing so well?
It was wonderful to spend a weekend in a place honoring our girl-ness. Our wo-mojo. The Yin. Marianne Williamson, who wrote A Woman's Worth (among other great books–check her out), gathered a bunch of strong ladies as Sister Giant to help us figure out what we can do with this delicious, hard-won freedom and power. We were reminded that the Great Yin has a moral rudder the world needs very badly right now. That an awakened female conscience would never knowingly let a child starve to death. She gave us permission to feel the female power that says "Not in THIS house" in the face of an immoral, crazy, 1-in-4-American-children-goes-to-bed-hungry world. She hooked us up with a group called RESULTS whose mission is to create the political will to end poverty. Because that's what's missing; not the money. Not the food. The political will. RESULTS regularly lobbies Congress on Foreign and Domestic Aid issues with the goal of getting real and badly needed help to the hungry here and abroad. She had us role-play talking to our representatives. She reminded us that we vote. That we matter. That people around the world right now need some compassionate, loving, fierce yin.
Marianne calls it a national security issue. She says that where there are desperate, hungry, hopeless people, there is a petri dish for pathological behavior, crime, war and possible terrorism. Happy, educated, well-fed people don't tend to blow things up. At least, not as much.
We didn't have time to talk about girls' schools getting terrorized in Afghanistan. And no one mentioned female circumcision in Africa or the phenomenon of Bride Burning in India. That's the stuff that makes me crazy. But, of course, there are too many problems facing women in the world for just one weekend. So we focussed on the solution. We recovered and re-affirmed the great loving, mothering, yin which steers our female souls. And for us, lucky enough to be free and empowered, it can be our currency in the world. Let's awaken the Sister Giant and use her power.