Archives for posts with tag: patriarchy

Lao Tzu once said that men, in order to know the Tao, needed to cultivate a receptive feminine quality in their minds, in their consciousness. It was this quality that open men up and allows them to relate better to the feminine principle so that they might better understand and appreciate the power that exists in yielding and receiving. It is all too easy for men to exaggerate or emphasize their masculine traits as a kind of emotional armor against which they protect themselves from what the world might seem to throw at them. Really all this ever has done is to insulate men even further from their natural selves. While seeming to protect them from the world what men might fear, what is really at work is how men have chosen to feel about the world and how that world might be at odds with their truer nature. So then the armoring really only serves to shield you against yourself, or your truer nature. A lot of this is learned behavior, so it follows that it can be unlearned as well.

A lot is thrust upon us here on earth, man and woman alike. We are taught from early ages how to be, what to like, and what we ought to believe. All of this is the product of culture, and culture is not the self, but a kind of collection of many selves that have gone before us that chose or valued things they thought were important. That is all. As a result, we take what others have fashioned and we try to make it into ourselves. The result is that some things work, and others do not. One thing that is becoming clear is that a lot of these cultural beliefs don’t suit us, not always.

I will point out that these learned behaviors are being instilled in us, supported, by men and women alike. I was once in a marriage where my wife, when hearing me express myself emotionally, would chide me saying, “This isn’t about you…” It was a quick way to express her discomfort at a quality that she believed was not a masculine trait. It is interesting because it was always okay for her to express how she felt without any pressure from me to do otherwise. But more importantly was how my son was raised up. She called him her “protector.” This is similar to calling a small boy a “little man.” We say these things often with swelling pride because we value certain qualities and want our children to take those on. We don’t understand sometimes how destructive these expectations are to children. A child does not know how to be a man, he is only three or four years of age and does not have the emotional means to handle what an adult does, nor should he. In the case of my son, when he was drafted into his protector status, when all you have everything is a nail. It turned out to be a quality that served to blind him in his life about the true nature of the relationships around him and how his Mother would later abuse his trust in her for less than noble reasons. The relationship fell apart with my then-wife when I stopped behaving in the old ways and simply was myself. Yes, it was a loss at the time, but it also meant that I gained my soul. I can’t tell you how difficult it is to pretend to be something that you aren’t. A large part of this had to do with a fundamental shift that was happening where I began to see the value in this receptive quality within myself. Not everyone is going to value it, and if they do not, they might just be the wrong kind of people to surround yourself with. It’s a hard lesson sometimes, but once learned you can do better and be with the kind of people who do value what you value as well. In fact the Law of Attraction will see to it that this happens, but only after you have changed your beliefs surrounding these programmed behaviors. You have to be aware of what is driving you if you are ever going to attract something different. We are all involved in our culture so by being aware of what we are doing to instill what anthropologists call “cultural knowledge” (or values) we can choose to do better in our raising of children (and ourselves).

For men, there is this particular idea that they have to be strong, and that means denying certain emotions or feelings. If you don’t believe this, just notice how often you ever see a man weeping over the sight of a puppy or a baby. There isn’t a lot of that kind of thing going on. You see, we have been taught as men that this is a sign of weakness. In fact, we have been taught that whatever a woman might experience or express is what a man ought never to engage in lest we become weak like women are weak. That of course is an assumption, a bias, a belief, that women are somehow weak. The problem with this way of thinking is that we know that women aren’t weak at all. The story is much bigger than that. Emotionally, women are much healthier in many ways than men are because they have permission to express and emote. Men do not, except for those emotions that are considered to be more masculine (aggressive ones usually). Now of course I am making a generalization, because not all men are like that, and the tide is indeed changing in a favorable direction currently, but there is more work to be done, and more to be aware of. I can explain this by asking the simple question: how many women in the last ten years have been involved in mass shootings? What do you think is at the root of the fact that men take guns and go out and shoot as many people as they can? Of course it is wrong to go out and kill people, it is a terrible thing to do to another human being. What I suspect is at the core of this kind of behavior is an inner rage, an inability to be seen or heard or to emote while at the same time the belief that the only way a real man can express himself is through aggressive behavior. These shootings are a manifestation of the most exaggerated qualities in male nature, but they do help to prove a point. Instead, expression is limited to violence because being tough is the only thing left for men. It doesn’t need to be this way.

Cultivating an ability to receive, to have a certain feminine quality in your awareness does not make you less of a man, it makes you more of a man. It allows you to relate to women better and it also allows you to feel your emotions instead of denying them. It is unnatural for men to deny their feelings. It is as unnatural for a man to deny his feelings as it is for a parent to call their two year old boy child their “little man” which is, of course, how these values are passed down to male boys who then grow up thinking that they have to be like men. The problem is that boy doesn’t really know how to be a man. It is unnatural. And yet, each year, there are parents all around the world who are calling their boys their “little men” and they do so with swelling pride because we have been taught, programmed, to value these qualities. So what the culture does not provide for you, you must learn to provide for yourself.

In all change, there is always the “threat” of not being accepted. We are all so programmed to value and to be triggered by certain behaviors that we see. Our bodies will respond to our inner beliefs about what manhood is when we see the programmed behaviors in others and ourselves running on automatic. We all have this programming, what it is the culture has told us masculinity and femininity is, and it all works automatically. You can change all of that, of course. You start by changing it in yourself. If you are a man, you begin by being courageous and cultivate this inner sensitivity. You learn to become a channel in your thinking. To know the greater mysteries of the universe you must receive. If you do receive, you can learn a lot and you can also appreciate the tenderness of women, the thoughtfulness of women, and the vulnerability that women can feel. Woman may be weaker than men, but it is not emotionally, but only outwardly. Weakness in this way is not a fault, not an article of shame, it is just how we are made and how we are made has a great purpose in a life so it should be respected, revered, even.

One thing that all of this does is it begins to erase in a man fears of incipient homosexuality. When this evaporates, the self is more open to acknowledge the larger truth of the self. This in turn can open you up to a still larger truth about all humans on the earth who are coming and going in this grand experiment in learning and growing here on earth. It can lead to a respect for all people and it begins to erase the divisions many people create that separate human from human.

It isn’t that masculinity is to be distrusted or torn down, but that in our past certain qualities have been exaggerated. You don’t need to exaggerate, you need only to explore and feel as fully as you can and allow yourself to go in feeling in places where perhaps you felt you weren’t allowed. You can begin this on your own as a kind of experiment. Consider that feeling is itself not weakness, and when you do that, you might actually see how you begin to dismantle a belief that might be within you without your having realized it. What I found when I did this was that there was this truly amazing amount of energy in consciousness that was now available to me that had not been available before. It was so good that I just never went back. I told myself that if someone tried to pull the old cultural strings on me, I just would not respond, I would resist being activated by that kind of cultural value which was outmoded and which tries to keep men in the old mode. The only way they have you is if you let them shame you or trigger you. The trigger only ever has power if you give it value. Leave it alone, let it be, let it fall away as you experiment with feeling and receiving. I can tell you that it will help you in meditative work and it will help in your life in surprising ways. There is nothing to be lost in doing this kind of thing inwardly.

When we are young we are soft and supple and as we age we often grow hard and stiffened. We aren’t made to be that way, and often beliefs about ourselves will stiffen us into unnatural postures and ways of feeling. Take what Lao Tzu said to heart. In Eastern practice the power in their martial arts is the degree to which they use feminine-like principles to overcome an opponent. You literally can use the force of another against him (or her) so that their force works against them. If you know the power in such things, you can begin to learn to cultivate an appreciation for the “other” which is also who you are because we are all just one family here when you get right down to it. There is nothing to oppose, and everything to nurture and build up. Men would do well to do more of that in themselves than the other things which have kept us locked in personal and mass conflict. There is no power in control, only brutality. There is no strength in war, only destruction and theft. These are not noble qualities, they are those of lower life. The masculine can be tempered with understanding and I suspect that this is what the world needs right now. And if a woman rejects you for being sensitive, take that as a sign that she herself has been programmed into a belief system that wont serve you. Just walk away. Do you really need someone to approve of you? Do you need love so bad that you will become someone else’s puppet on a string just so you will get showered with love? What kind of love does such a thing? It is surely a very pinched and distorted form of love.

When you cultivate this inner receptivity you can begin to see just how little as a man, as a person, that you really know. It makes a person humble in such a place as this. Don’t worry about others, just tend to yourself. You aren’t here to make the world into your image, you can just let the world do what it is doing. Live by example. If more people did this, the world would change in the right way, without coercion, without force, using only inspiration as the way that change takes place. This is the softer hand at work and it gives freewill its proper voice in the world. If something is worth doing then it will become apparent, you don’t have to force it. You inspire the change, and not everyone will be so inspired by you. This is natural. If your ego needs validation so badly that you must force your ideas on another, it might be that those ideas aren’t worth adopting if they must be adopted by force.

There is no loss in masculinity in doing this kind of work, nothing at all. What we might lose is the bias that exists against others different from us. It could soften chauvinism, and a sexist outlook. This alone would make the world, at least your corner of it, a better place. It might even make you into a better version of yourself, someone the world might just be in need of.

For the women and men traveling to protest, to have their voices and choices heard, I salute you for your fortitude and effort.

Beyond the Mall and the travel, if we want to put an end to patriarchy and misogyny, it will be because the arson that we used to burn it down was itself an inside job. Lurking in all of us are the effects of centuries of a way of thinking, and while we see our leader as exemplifying that in the worst of ways, if any of us want to see this way of being gone then it will be because we were honest in seeking it out within ourselves and made efforts to change it.

Patriarchy is about the illusory status of power. We either assume or own our power or we don’t. We stand up to the strong and stick to our convictions. We are honest about how we feel, but we also can reveal brutality through nonviokent resistance. Either we define our relationships in terms of giving that power away or we don’t. No social system is inherently controlling in its aspects, humans are. There is nothing inherently more powerful from one sex to the other, because they both are.

Patriarchy has left its mark, just look at how one-sided religions steeped in it have only one human aspect to the Godhead: male. Its religions, too, are all-male run while women are given the back seat, relegated to worker-bee status. The dark side to all of this is that some women find this enticing and interesting…or fulfilling (right along with the men, of course). But then, that’s how things are: it affects all of us as we fall under its vast thrall. It pinches our perception, our experience, and our lives. It leads us to a kind of half life and no one bothers to ask why. But this century has shown a real shift in that kind of brittleness and it has revealed a truth that we are far more flexible and amenable to change than we may have previously dreamed. To continue, we need to look closely into all of ourselves to root out what no longer serves. To do this requires honesty.

When men speak about women and think of them as mere objects, that is misogyny. When women cannot get paid the same as men, that is what patriarchy has brought us. But it comes in other subtle ways when mothers call their sons “little man” or “my protector.” When mothers support old images of male power they imprint patriarchy and possibly even misogyny on the hearts and minds of their children, male or female. When fathers show preferences toward a son over his daughter, or treat the daughter as fundamentally different from his son, if not done carefully, can lead to patriarchy. There are myriad ways that we repeat, unconsciously, the program that is patriarchy or misogyny. Sometimes, we don’t know any better and just need a new or good model. And sometimes we do it knowingly.

For men and women ARE different, but it should not be the reason to exclude or divide or lessen one sex in its potential or capabilities.  Different, yes, but all equivalent. Not the same, no, but both equivalent. 

Let’s be nuanced in our approach and see the good in all instead of the bad. By encouraging the best in all of us, we might just get it.
Be clear where your power springs. Don’t give your power over out of fear or desire for approval. Don’t give it because you think it’s marketable. Keep it so that you might inspire others to keep it also so that this flame might burn in everyone. 

I look forward to even bigger changes in the upcoming year. You might be sick to death of Trump, but he IS a symptom of our own collective self which we often find too uncomfortable to even look at it. Too often, we project our own shortcomings on to others with disastrous results. I have been able to see how I projected onto others and how they projected on to me. It was always a reverse condition even though no one could see it. These things are much too hard to acknowledge, until they are. 

This isn’t about being comfortable facing an ugly truth, but it does lead to comfort once the old demon in us is gone. And because of how much our unexamined beliefs run us, it’s a life-changer when we can make that change. In ourselves. Otherwise, we continue to point it out in others whilst ignoring the beam in our eye, and I don’t have to tell you what an endless merry-go-round that is!

So acknowledge that we have more to do and consider what a great opportunity it is to be brought to this awareness by our big orange buffoon. Like it or not, he is our buffoon, and we could really clear our inner decks of so much that we all say we don’t like or are against. The only war we will wage will be a war about how we choose to react and feel about people and the world. You aren’t going to change Trump, but you can make yourself better. That great tide will be the force that won’t eradicate Trump, but ALL of the Trump’s that might have followed after him in the world. By being aware, you won’t add to the patriarchy, but add to equality or sexual equivalence and personal relevance regardless of your sex, your orientation or color or creed. What a wonderful world that would be.
I have seen how angry people are with the rioting that took place out there just before the inauguration. If only we could take that energy and burn down the patriarchy in our own inner hearts and souls, we would really be on to something.

Good luck, travel safe, and stay dry and warm, marching or not…and stay aware out there…

%d bloggers like this: