Half the Sky

“When sleeping women wake, mountains move.” ~ Chinese proverb

Former President Jimmy Carter’s new book, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power is on book shop shelves now. I find it heartening that an American political person has honestly turned his attention to the most pressing issue of all time: ending the subjugation of girls, women and the feminine.

The People’s Republic of China Chairman Mao Zedong pronounced that “women hold up half the sky.” Though his intent was putting women in the labor force, girls and women have benefitted hugely. This proclamation has become a Chinese proverb. I mentioned this to my partner who reflexively – without judgment – responded “I wonder who holds up the other half.”

Of course conditions for girls and women remain untenable in China, yet so too the world over. We, Western or Westernized peoples, need not gloat, our women’s suffrage notwithstanding. For we continue perpetrating unconscionable horrors on girls and women daily. Those of us regarding ourselves as just and compassionately aware are ourselves unwittingly complicit in perpetuating misogyny’s grip.

Contemporary civilizations, cultures, religions and institutions are predicated on dishonoring the feminine. Those who fail to see this are yet in the grip of the denial of our enculturation. We like this part of our upbringing for we learned to fear change. To see – to genuinely apprehend the horrors girls and women routinely experience will change you irrevocably. Once changed you will have think and act differently or live painfully in dissonance.

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn wrote the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. It’s a must read. Brilliant writing and structure yet you will need to buck up as it is graphic. I ricocheted round a myriad points of outrage, deep cathartic grief and heartening possibility.

If you value being alive. If you want your life to be better. If you are of a bent for living decently, for growing and awakening psychologically – and spiritually, for making a positive difference in the lives of others — if you want to change the world — if you want to love and be loved, you begin by becoming an individual embodiment of a force which counterbalances misogyny! (By the way, the world does not need changing!)

The Mystery continually invites us to change, to morph, to unfold, to expand. Becoming a countervailing force to misogyny is a means of connecting with the central organizing force of the cosmos – Love. No one can do this for another.

What does counterbalancing misogyny mean? 
It is the honoring of girls and women and the feminine. It is recognizing their dignity as Living Beings, as people; it is acknowledging, valuing and standing up for their human rights; it is seeing their innocence, standing, voice, place; it is honoring and respecting that they themselves own, are free to choose and decide and control what they do with their bodies, and what is done with or to their bodies.

It is honoring and valuing the Life and right of a girl or woman to have her full expression on this planet. It is honoring and respecting their personal psychologies, their thinking minds, their mental, feeling, emotional, physical and energetic needs, expression and processes. It is recognizing, respecting, supporting and welcoming their personal power, and their participation and contribution – their promise – in our lives – our world.

Counterbalancing misogyny requires that each of us individually think and act with the disciplined intent of ensuring that girls and women are safe with and safe from us. It is honoring the feminine by giving girls and women clean undemanding, respectful and honoring attention. 

How to become an embodied counterbalancing force to misogyny is the topic of my next post. 

In the interim I invite you to read The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml