I invite you to come with me on a journey to love, honor, and respect all women. I share with you a segue of two quotes, the first from Carl Sagan: “The old appeals to racial, sexual and religious chauvinism and to rabid nationalism are beginning not to work. A new consciousness is developing which sees the earth as a single organism and recognizes that an organism at war with itself is doomed.”
The second comes from Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “It is by standing up for the rights of girls and women that we truly measure up as men.”
I began working on this post, “Love, honor, and respect all women” shortly after I had posted the one concerning our evolution from violence through nonviolence to peace.
That one concerned matters of racism. The matter of sexism reared up for me in the context of our evolution, and my experience of working with its victims—women—was stimulated in no small part by the discovery of Jean Shinoda Bolen’s new book, Artemis: The Indomitable Spirit in Everywoman. I was familiar with Doctor Bolen’s ground–breaking Goddesses in Everywoman through my work with my tutor, Barry wood, MD, that began 30 years ago, and I had developed a great respect for her work centered by CG Jung’s rich appreciation of the archetypical qualities of the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece. I looked up Artemis and was introduced to the image of a woman deserving of my love, honor, and respect—not just for her, but for all women. It has been a great pleasure to read that excellent work and to sign onto it… it has been an honor and a privilege to have lived with love, honor, and respect for women for all of my life.
There were six wonderful women in my family, and there was one wonderful man who adored one of those women—my father. He was no more subservient to her then she was to him. Both had wounds and dysfunctions… and they both loved and supported each other until the end of their lives. My mother was the artistic daughter of a physician, born with incredibly strong healing power in her hands. Her niece was a gifted Jungian therapist. My father’s older sister was a Christian Science healer. His younger sister was a social healer who was a giant in the burgeoning world of social casework in the 1940s and 50s. My father was a competent mechanical engineer who owned his own company. His work was richly masculine while the others’ work was richly feminine.
When I started my practice of general surgery in Norway, Maine, in 1971, I quickly developed a reputation among the women I served for being “the doctor who listens”. When they asked me if they could tell me their story and got my agreement I heard about familial sexual abuse for the first time in my life! I quickly went through confusion and anger to an acceptance; learning to love, honor, and respect women in the process. As I accepted this new role as a physician, I met a family practitioner who was a skilled hypnotherapist. He was much in demand in a large regional hospital for his ability to work with women in labor who, though they were perfectly normally built, could not let their cervix open to move the baby down the birth canal. He was asked if he could work with some. He agreed; and he found repressed memories of teenage sexual abuse. He was successful in helping these women relax and have normal delivery! I was born by cesarean section because my mother would not let me go down the birth canal! I am a psychologist at heart, and my studies led me to identify a cluster of dysfunctional behaviors in my mother that were totally consistent with having survived sexual assault as a young teenager.
In my personal evolution, I found a call to study shamanic practices, and found that I was capable of them, myself. Bringing these practices into my work has shown me that, as a physician aware of the condition of PTSD, the better name for it is “soul loss”. The soul, as I have come to see it, is the bridge between the ego–directed body–mind and that field of consciousness we know as “Spirit”. In my way of seeing things, the Native word here is “Great Spirit”… it is present in everything and everything is present in it. Soul—the bridge to Spirit—is fragile and easily fragmented. Deep soul wounds, of which sexual assault is one, seriously impair a person’s ability to function effectively, let alone creatively. My mother was a multi–talented “Renaissance” artist who could never let herself succeed. She was always looking for an older woman to help with life—out of pity and duty—certain that she was going to hell when she died.
History shows us that men the world over have treated women the world over as lesser beings… with some notable exceptions that make it difficult for us in the “civilized” world difficult to understand. “Difficult” is a word that is a trifle short of “impossible”. However, in our evolution, we humans have a common belief that the impossible is always possible. And, as Carl Sagan would have us know: “A new consciousness is developing which sees the earth as a single organism and recognizes that an organism at war with itself is doomed.” It is time to eliminate sexism from all but our memories that prevent its recurrence.
(On March 30, 2015, the day after I posted this, I found a brand new Chris Hedges article in truthdig.com that spells out in detail the extent of the mistreatment of the feminine world and its daughters by the masculine world and its sons. It is the first article in Hedges’ Truthdig page, http://www.truthdig.com/staff/chris_hedges. It is harsh—as harsh as Hedges can get—so I can’t recommend it for the fainthearted. It is, however, exactly what I sense is destroying us. My visionary mysticist/activist self is committed to helping us see what we need do to heal the world… honor the feminine in all things and acts: spiritual, physical, female, and male.)
I do not think it necessary to go into details here about the way that men have egregiously maltreated women over centuries… Hedges has done this. However, I would emphasize that there is a distinct, worldwide movement to bring the harm to an end… an “Evolutionary Revolution” that aligns itself with the Evolution of the Universe. My perception of this Evolution is that it is not so much “survival of the fittest” but “cooperative thriving… finding how we fit”. I would invite you to go back and look at the circular, embracing nurturing that I got from the women in my early world and see that I got a linear nurturing from my father with his engineer’s mind… the feminine and the masculine working together. How much I do appreciate their beneficial effect on me. I greatly appreciate the direction of our evolution that embraces the feminine and the masculine equally without judgment… appreciating our struggles as we go through the dark forest to the light on the horizon. It is my sense that as we come to love, honor, and respect all women, we will reach out to all men with love, honor, and respect.
I close now with two references to Jean Shinoda Bolen’s feminine power that can help you appreciate what this healing is all about:
1. Her 2014 book, Artemis: The Indomitable Spirit in Everywoman, http://jeanbolen.com/books/index.html/
2. Three quotes copied from an email from The Intelligent Optimist praising Bolen:
“Our earth home and all forms of life in it are at grave risk. We men have had our turn and made a proper mess of things. We need women to save us. I pray that many will read Bolen’s work and be inspired then to act appropriately. Time is running out.”
— Archbishop Desmond Tutu
“[Jean Bolen] tells how women working together can bring us peace and save the planet. She invites us all to join the next, most powerful wave of the women’s movement. Count me in!”
— Isabel Allende, author of Zorro, House of Spirits, Paula
“Jean Shinoda Bolen shows us how the cult of masculinity is endangering us all. Women and men are equally human and fallible, but at least women don’t have our masculinity to prove—and that alone may make us the main saviors of this fragile Spaceship Earth.”
— Gloria Steinem, cofounder of Ms. Magazine