Temenos Journal II

July 30, 2011

Confessions of a Recovering Angry Feminist

RosieRiveterYes, I admit I am a recovering angry feminist.

I still abhor the patriarchal values that perpetuate a fear-based society, where money buys power and bullies rule.

I still get livid when a woman or child is abused — physically, mentally, or spiritually.

But I have changed my thinking in one major way…

During the 70s and 80s I worked very hard to prove that I could make it in a man’s world. I worked my way up in a nontraditional job in a piping construction firm — from clerical worker to project manager — and learned to wear a hard hat and read a blueprint.

Then I went into my own business. First I went into publishing, which evolved into graphics and printing. I negotiated contracts, raised working capital, and had power lunches with bankers, lawyers, and CEOs. I became a successful, prominent business woman who was often profiled in the press as a role model and a leader.

A big part of my mission was to help pave the way for other aspiring business women. I was a charter member and active leader in the local Women Business Owners Association and I organized a roundtable discussion group of successful business women. We learned how to network and make things happen alongside the good ol’  boys of the Cleveland business community.

We were the women who learned to compete and win in the male-dominated competitive and greed-driven business world. We (or most of us) had become part of the system. Right around the time that George Bush Sr. dropped the first bomb on Iraq… I realized that I no longer wanted to be part of that system. I felt something like ashamed.

That moment of epiphany was the beginning of the decision to leave the business world and become the artist and writer that I was born to be. I did not like what I would have had to become in order to go to the next level of success in business. I did not like playing by the rules that were invented by men in suits. I announced my decision to my friends in my business women’s roundtable and I had their full support.

As I began the process of easing out of business, I gained a new appreciation for what men have been accomplishing for so many centuries. As I slowed down, the numbness caused by the continual onslaught of adrenalin began to subside, and I started to realize how bone-weary I was. I ached from head to toe. My brain was worn out.

I remember thinking, “Men can have this. Running a business is for the birds.” I reflected on all the giant things that men have accomplished… building the railroads, building the bridges, inventing commerce, etc. This is way too much work and you really do need broader shoulders than I have or want.

I just wanted out of the game. It did not feel like defeat, it felt like liberation.

I am still a feminist. That is, I will always work for equal rights for women and girls. Thankfully, there’s not nearly as much work to do now as there was when I was starting out in business. But I am no longer an angry feminist.

I feel compassion for men, not anger. My mission has changed from “making it in a man’s world” to “changing the way we look at the world.” I have many male friends who share the same vision. Men are not our enemy. They are our brothers. The enemy is the patriarchal system, created before our grandparents’ time. The enemy is corporate greed, that holds so many of our men (and women) hostage.

We allow ourselves to look the other way and become numb so that we can provide a certain expected lifestyle for our families. Well, that’s a short-sighted sell-out because we lose our integrity in the process. We lose our health, our peace of mind, our self-respect, and ultimately our souls.

We need to participate more as conscious citizens who can think for ourselves and make up our own minds, instead of coasting along like passive consumers, most of whom are also self-medicating themselves just to be able to withstand the insanity.

As citizens, we need to stay vigilant to keep informed about what the prevailing game is, and to know the rules. If we don’t like the game, we don’t have to play. We can help invent a new game where the object is not necessarily to win — the object is to keep the game going. We need to revisit the rules every so often, so that we can change the rules when they no longer serve our highest collective good.

Yes, the angry feminist has mellowed. Now I am a spiritual activist. I don’t think we can change the world… but I think we can change our hearts. And so my work is to reach peoples’ hearts through my music and my writing and my art. Yes, I believe we can change the world by changing our hearts, one heart at a time. This is about as feminist and feminine as you can get, I think.

 

Related: On the Strategy of the Dolphin

Related: On Spiritual Activism

Advertisements