If the question is
how can we save mankind and our planet
improve the position of women and abolish financial, social and cultural inequalities between men and women
and live a joyful and fulfilling life?
Is the answer capitalism, socialism, right wing or left wing, or do we need something else?
A better world is a balanced world
What is a balanced world?
A balanced world is a world where men and women respect the universal laws – with common understanding of several traditional wisdoms from all over the world, for example, the tao or buddhism.
A balanced world is based on equality. People are unique and complementary and therefore partners on equal terms. Men and women are different but equal, both sexes have their own basic standards. Every person feels valued, part of the big picture and essential to the success of the whole. The big picture being human cultures, organizations or systems. A balanced world embraces the multiplicity of perspectives and ‘ways of doing things’ of people, is informed by the diverse histories, cultures and experiences that people bring. Individual differences and similarities are welcomed, valued and used at all levels across all formal and informal systems. Everyone matters, everyone’s needs are considered, decisions are made together and everyone takes responsibility for his or her input.
In a balanced world, all people are viewed and respected as complete persons having several roles, for example mother, daughter, colleague, friend, lover, all with accompanying lives. Every person contributes to the big picture according to his or her own potential, with respect for others, animals and nature. In a balanced world culture and nature are one and in complete harmony.
Do we live in a balanced world right now?
Western civilization, beginning with the ancient Greeks, is patriarchal, based on male power and expansion. It is a world of domination, authoritarianism where one part of humankind is put above another part of human kind. Power–driven leaders determine what matters; men follow; women obey the men and tend to focus on the household and children.
Within the family it is the father who rules. If one person’s ambitions, feelings, needs, and perceptions must be provided for then everyone else is subordinate and less important. Hierarchy is the natural order and war is a way of gaining control. Patriarchal history has been about power, colonisation, possessions, and control.
Where masculinity is defined as power and having control, men fear feminine qualities and suppress them in themselves. The more patriarchal or domination-oriented a culture is the more gender differences there are. In Western society, the patriarch is losing power due to a growing awareness of its detrimental consequences. A new world is revealing.
Since when do we have this patriarchal model?
Before the Greek God Zeus ruled from Mount Olympus, there was Gaia. Goddess preceded god. In her book De Kelk en het Zwaard: onze geschiedenis, onze toekomst (1987/1997) [The Chalice and the Blade: our history, our future (1987/1997)] researcher Riane Eisler shows, using a lot of available data, that 5000 years ago a whole other culture, that lasted for a long time, emerged. This was a culture characterised by peace and equality between men and women. Historians call this culture ‘The Old European Culture’ and as of 4500 BC it was overpowered by the Indo-Europeans and their expansionism. De Indo-Europeans had a completely different culture, characterised by hierarchy, patriarchy and war.
Why is the patriarchal model the cause of our current problems?
The arrival of the Indo-Europeans brought an end to the Goddess, caused the decline of women’s social and political status, and encouraged patriarchy and misogyny by reinforcing left-brain dominance. Linear thinking was now more highly valued than feeling and intuition, word more highly valued than image, and hierarchy more valued than the natural order.
The economic crisis, the environmental crisis, the Euro crisis, the current terrorist violence, we roll from one crisis straight into the next. What all these crises have in common is that they are the visible result of the imbalance in our human cultures and in ourselves. For centuries cultures valued the masculine more than the feminine, courage and risk taking more than certainty, transaction more than interaction and so the feminine became snowed under. The emphasis on masculine values results in imbalance. Current society is out of balance due too much yang (masculine energy) and too little yin (feminine energy).
What are male or female or rather masculine and feminine strengths and values precisely (*)?
‘Masculine’ and ‘feminine’ are opposite and complementary elemental forces that we find in many major philosophies and cultures. A well-known example is the Yin and Yang of Taoism. According to ancient Chinese beliefs the movement of the all-encompassing nature (Heaven, Earth and everything that is found and lives there) is guided by the forces of Yin and Yang. That means mankind as well.
In the Taoism yin-yang symbol it is nice to see that the complementary pairs work together in a constant rising and falling and so create a dynamic balance. From this dynamic and harmonious balance of feminine and masculine new life is created. The interaction between the two gives life to everything and together they form the circle of life. Yin is the feminine, passive, receiving and introvert principle. Yang is the masculine, active, external and extrovert principle. Yin is connected with the here and now, accepting and trusting, in the knowledge that growth is taking place. The feminine is focused on emotional contact and connection with the other. Yang stands for action, decisiveness, courage and getting results. The masculine wants to stand out and experiences itself as an autonomous being.
The masculine and the feminine principles translate themselves into numerous apparently opposite yet complementary pairs with that same active basic pattern of masculine – expansion – extrovert, and feminine – contraction – introvert. Both men and women have a masculine, extrovert and a feminine, introvert part in them. In Western science we come across the male and the female principle, for example in the work of the Swiss psychiatrist, Professor Carl Jung. According to him, besides their conscious feminine personality, women also have a subconscious masculine component, the animus. In addition to a masculine consciousness, the man also has a feminine pole, the anima in his subconscious. For women, the feminine is the beginning of her natural nature; with men that is the masculine.
Why do we need balance?
A good balance between the feminine and the masculine brings harmony and prosperity; a bad balance brings doom. This balance can be applied at all levels of life: from cultures as a whole to individual level. At the cultural level that balance is needed, because over-valuing one principle leads to disruption of the balance. For example the feminine can be seen in our welfare state where too much pampering, and solidarity, are detrimental to individual responsibility. Too much emphasis on the masculine, leads to a culture focused on deeds, where standing still is seen as decline and where success is at the expense of long term continuity. Generally speaking, you could say that we, both at individual level and at the level of our western culture, value the masculine side more. The masculine side is often the norm.
We ourselves need balance in order to lead a peaceful and purposeful life. Too much of the feminine may lead to you being unable to set boundaries or be confrontational. On the other hand, too much of the masculine may lead to a person being blunt, inflexible or egocentric.
According to Jung an individual’s personal developments depends on the degree to which these two elements are integrated in the person. Learning and developing is a type of basic need in every person who is ultimately striving for self-management. In life you move from subconscious to conscious but in the subconscious you already know where you’re going. Development is aimed at becoming more yourself, to utilize more aspects of yourself and to have to courage to trust in your talents: your passion, qualities, experience and intuition. You become more yourself so that your external world – your behaviour and your internal world – who you are, is more in alignment with each other. According to Jung every person develops himself through a process of individuation, self-realisation, into a more own unique personality, into an individual. Life, as it were, puts you to the test. During that process you discover what is really important and learn to handle situations that lead you off your chosen path, more effectively. Until at a certain moment, you are able to adhere to your own standards regardless of the circumstances. Through what you go through in life you develop parts or aspects in yourself. But they are all always present and shape the human potential with which we start. On the psychological and spiritual journey to completeness, the opposing elements in ourselves, the masculine and feminine aspects of the personality ‘pair up’. The ‘complete’ person, is someone who follows his own path hand and who unites the paradoxes in himself: ambitious and modest; independent and dependent; rational and emotional.
How do we create a balanced world?
The world is a reflection of ourselves, so an imbalance in the world is an imbalance in ourselves. In order to restore balance and change the relationship between men and women towards complementarity and equality of the sexes, it is necessary for both men and women strive to connect the different, opposing masculine and feminine aspects in themselves. Wholeness is possible when human qualities, now usually designed as masculine or feminine, are seen as part of the spectrum for everyone. In the male world, intellectual development (rational thinking, data-based information, objectivity, the realm of the mind) is fostered and rewarded; emotional development (feeling, intuition, aesthetic appreciation, subjectivity, the real of the heart), usually not. When both are important, both sides of the personality develop and both hemispheres of the brain are used.
“At the peak of our abilities, flow arises as the coming together of doing and being. Or in other words, as action that flows effortlessly out of being.””
Only after people have experienced flow in their lives and have therefore felt that energy, is it possible for them to really and consciously feel their existence and know what the goal and purpose of their life is. When we create from the heart and our Higher Self we can overcome duality and that which we create will be in balance with ourselves and with the bigger picture. We move with the wind in our backs. When you listen to the calling of your heart and soul and what you do is alignment with your truth, amazing things start to happen naturally. You get things done easily, setbacks become challenges, and you are comfortable with yourself. You radiate that you are on the right path and inevitably others see that too. There’s a greater chance that you are effective and successful. Otherwise, it can seem like nothing is going the way it should. This is the equivalent of getting up every day and doing something that you don’t love… just for a pay-check. Figuring out a way to align some of your passions with your life and work is the recipe for a happy and fulfilled life. If you combine the use of your talents with fulfilling your purpose, the influence you can have on the world as well as on your own happiness is limitless. Then the right breeding ground is created for a collective leap forward where the current patriarchal culture is replaced by a culture of equality where the perspectives and contribution of all people are valued.
And what about all the emancipation and feminism so far?
Feminism came into being in the 19th century in response to the need to act against the unequal (power) relationship between men and women. In legislation in particular, a number of issues changed for the better in the 19th and 20th centuries as a result of feminism. A first and second waves gave women the right to vote, the pill, abortion and a career. At the same time, the less visible power relationships between men and women, and among women and men themselves, were not broken. 20th century feminism has not provided an alternative for the ruling patriarchal culture where women are dominated by men. Because of the lack of alternatives, equality and freedom (two promises of the feminism) lead to a situation where women put in a lot of effort to satisfy the standard of the powerful and masculine party.
All measures that are aimed at equal treatment for women, such as more women at the top, more economic independence for women, better education for girls, etc. are measures to decrease the disadvantaged position of women within the current patriarchal system. These measures ignore the fact that masculine values, ways of thinking and behaviour are woven throughout the whole of society. The system is male. In its last report, the World Economic Forum signalled some progress in women’s participation in the workforce but from a judicial and political point of view women are still lagging behind significantly despite the fact that in past years there are 26 % more female members of parliament and even 50% more female ministers were appointed.
As long as emancipation and feminism focus mainly on women, the equality between the sexes will remain a sort of female hobby where men believe it has nothing to do with them, where women will remain the 2nd sex. To create a new system both sexes are needed so that each can transform their own part in the patriarchy. A well-known quote from Eleanor Roosevelt is: ‘No one can treat you as an inferior without your permission’. I believe it is time for women to retract that permission and to provide an alternative for the current system. Feminism can then enter a new phase, from equal rights feminism to balanced feminism; committed to balancing male and female energy in ourselves and in the world. Feminism for men and women.
What does this mean for women?
It has been said for quite some time: the 21st century is the century of women. It certainly seems like it. In the Netherlands there are now three times as many women as men who start their own business. This is the first generation of women who make more money than their fathers did. Society is feminizing and feminine values are becoming more important. We live in an era where attention for each other, emotion, honesty, sustainability and inner growth are important, both for men and women.
The feminine perspective is gaining ground and this is good news for the young women of today, because feminism so far has taught women how to imitate men, but confused them about how to remain women while doing so. In the early years of emancipation it was logical that femininity was taboo. It was more of a handicap for promotion than an advantage. Women were ‘on the outside looking in’, and to get anywhere, women had to act like men. But women are now partially integrated in organizations and structures and that gives them room to rediscover their femininity. For centuries women were mainly victims because of their gender. To create a more equal future, it is necessary to emphasize the opportunities, possibilities and qualities of women. So women as a gender can be ‘complete’ again.
Jean Shinoda Bolen: ‘ The world needs ‘mother’ to set things right in our unbalanced world’.
What does this mean for men?
Men too can gain a lot from balance in themselves and in the world. A male image that covers the entire spectrum of maleness offers men the opportunity to be themselves, to be complete and not have to pretend to be something they are not. In the patriarch it is the Zeus-men, the ones who place importance on power, domination and control, who are at the helm. There is no room for vulnerability and men who are more emotional, intuitive or expressive will experience that those strengths are not stimulated, rewarded or encouraged by those around them. These men will feel pulled in all directions at times, between their true self and the role expected of them at work, school or from friends. The result is that these men may feel cut off from parts of themselves that don’t fit within the patriarch and that parts that do fit become magnified to fill the empty void.
The Zeus-man, the Alfa man who feels completely at home in the patriarchy, seems to be the biggest loser but nothing could be further from the truth. His hero status also has a shadow side, for him and for the world. Strengths that he ignores or rejects are not gone but continue to have – subconsciously – influence. That is always expressed negatively in disturbed relationships, physical discomfort or a sense of loneliness
Men must offer women the space they need, let go of their fears and show their own feminine side. To achieve this, a society that appreciates and accepts feminine values is needed.
Is this global shift the current transition?
A global shift is happening around the world. As the established economic, political and cultural institutions of our planet encounter increasing upheaval, humanity is moving toward the next stage in its history. Changing the patriarchal pattern to an egalitarian principle, and a culture based on balance between masculine and feminine qualities, are part of this. When enough people accept the egalitarian principle it becomes the new standard. This new stage requires us to see ourselves, our world, each other and the practices and actions we can undertake to heal ourselves and help the planet differently. An exciting and hopeful future.
© Anja Beerepoot – 2015
Do you want to read more about this?:
Jean Shinoda Bolen – Urgent message from mother: gather the women, save the world
Marja de Vries – The whole elephant revealed en Samenlevingen in Balans (no Eng version)
Riane Eisler – The Chalice & the Blade; our history our future
(*) The terms manly and womanly are sex-related. That is why I use the terms masculine for manly and feminine for womanly. Both sexes have both poles in them and have masculine and feminine energy.