My daughter was quite young when I began to talk to her about the Womanhood Ceremony we would have for her someday.
At first she just ignored me. During her middle school years, she would just roll her eyes. But I persisted.
When the time came, she was in her freshman year of high school and by then a couple of her friends suggested that this whacky “period party” her mom was harping about might actually be kind of cool.
In the end, I think it was the last line of the invitation that finally won her over: “It is expected the festivities will culminate in dancing, singing, and laughter around a roaring fire and joyful howling at the moon.”
It really was a glorious occasion. Families being more complicated than in years gone by, my daughter has more than the usual complement of grandmothers and all but one of them were present, coming from many hours away–one even coming from London. There were no men allowed–we had even banished the two male cats for the day.
When the recent kerfuffle in the media about the Gillette “Toxic Masculinity” ad happened, I could not help but think back to the remarks I prepared for my daughter’s Womanhood Ceremony. At the time I wrote them, it was a bit surprising to me that I would focus so much on a discussion of men, but I felt it was imperative to do so.
Because I wrote these remarks more than ten years ago, reading them now I can see both the progress we’ve made in ten years and the areas where both men and woman can still help each other to realize our visions for a world that works for all of us. Here is what I wrote ten years ago for this magnificent gathering of women who loved my daughter:
Any of you who have read The Red Tent by Anita Diamant probably realize that this Womanhood Ceremony harkens back to something ancient.
The Red Tent is a novel about Dinah, a woman who makes a very brief appearance in Genesis of the Old Testament. What I found striking about the book was the tradition of the red tent itself.
In Old Testament times, women were living in family tribes in intimate proximity to one another. Because of this, their menstrual cycles became synchronized and for one week every month, the women of the tribe were ‘banished’ to the red tent.
Little did the men know that the women spent the other three weeks of every month awaiting their return to the red tent, where they could spend their time safe and unfettered by the limitations of life in the ‘real world.’
In today’s world, we as women do not go around shouting about the role we play in the Universe and, given our history over the last thousand years, it’s no wonder. For centuries women have carried around a collective fear of their own power–and with good reason.
I was reading Eckhart Tolle’s wonderful book The New Earth recently and he gives a staggering statistic in the book: during the Inquisition years, which spanned from the early 1300’s into the 1700’s, it is estimated that four million women were burned at the stake or otherwise tortured and put to death. I have seen other books that give a figure as high as nine million.
Is it any wonder that our genetic memory as females has left us reluctant to stand up and say, “Look at us! Look at what our bodies can do! We are the bearers of life. The Keepers of the Sacred Vessel–the womb” ?
No, I don’t think it’s any surprise that we’ve learned to keep quiet.
But we don’t need to anymore. In fact, it’s imperative that we not be quiet anymore. We need to step up and be leaders–and why? Because the world needs us. Mother Earth needs us. Men–our fathers, our brothers, our husbands, our sons–need us.
We’ve banished the males from today’s celebration, but it’s not out of a sense of competition. This is not men vs. women. No, that is a mistake of the past.
The hope of the future, the promise of the future, is in men and women fully being what they truly are: the two aspects of the Divine–the active male energy and the receptive female energy–in harmony and finding joy and happiness in the world together, not necessarily as lovers, just as people. The yin and the yang in balance.
It can be achieved. But, to achieve it, women will have to step into their power. For centuries, men have been dominated by their power chakras–seated in the solar plexus. They are comfortable with power. And they have not been afraid to use it.
But they’re not so comfortable in their heart chakras. Women, on the other hand, have been very comfortable in their heart chakras, while giving away their power because they’ve been uncomfortable in their power chakra.
Many people–academic and otherwise–see men as the ‘winners’ historically. But, think about it for a moment: for generations, men have been living their lives out of their power with very little connection to their hearts. And because of that, they’ve been stunted in their emotional growth. How many of them–even at 30 and 40 years old–are men yet really? Not many.
Most are lonely, sad, scared boys, who because of the heart disconnect can’t even sort out their emotions and end up transforming them into anger–something they’re more comfortable with since it’s power-chakra related. (And this begs the question: when two young men walked into Columbine High School with guns, was it really anger they were feeling? Or was it sadness, loneliness, fear?)
These boys in men’s bodies look for women to emotionally suckle them. They go from the physical nurturing of their mothers to the emotional nurturing their girlfriends or wives provide. When their failure to give that emotional support back (something they’ve never been taught how to do) leads to strained marriages, they chase everything they think will make them happy–something they can easily do out of that power chakra–but find out it doesn’t change anything: the younger woman, the newer, faster car, whatever–those never turn out to be the solution. There’s still something missing. What’s missing is the heart connection.
Many women make the same mistake in opposite form: they seek a man they perceive as powerful–one who can take care of them financially and physically. What they eventually find is that giving a man your heart so he will give you his power is NOT balance.
If there is to be any hope for this planet, we as women have to find the balance in these chakras–power and heart–and then reach out and teach our men to do the same thing. If humanity keeps interacting with Mother Earth from a power chakra not balanced by the heart, treating her like she is a maiden to be ravaged and raped, a resource to be exploited, a machine to be run to its own destruction–then we are lost.
Women have already begun this transformation. It is only natural that we should be the ones then to help the men.
We are standing at the threshold of a new dawn. Women have taken back their power. We don’t need men to literally survive anymore. We can support ourselves. We can even defend ourselves.
So the time has come for us to help the men–to help them find their hearts. When they can approach life from a balanced heart chakra, then they can stop being afraid. Because men have been disconnected from their hearts, the only love connection they have had has been through their women. Is it any wonder they’ve tried to dominate us?
It’s because we have always had what they’ve always wanted but couldn’t find any other path to–love. (Of course, they were thinking that what they were after was sex. They haven’t figured out that sex is just a physical manifestation of the emotion we all long for: love.)
When men can find the wellspring of their own emotions–especially love–from their own hearts, they won’t need to try to take it from us anymore.
So, when they’ve stopped holding power over our heads and we’ve stopped holding love over their heads, we’ll all be approaching each other from a balanced footing.
And we can know that we choose each other for the right reasons: not women choosing men for their economic power and men choosing women for their emotional nurturing. Women and men choosing each other out of appreciation, respect, joy, and love for the balance they bring to one another and the wonderful things they can accomplish together: happy, brilliant, children, for example, who grow up to be amazing young men and women.
Ten years later, despite fusses in the media about “toxic masculinity”–or maybe because there even are fusses in the media about a topic that was not even being discussed at that time–I finally do see the new dawn I was talking about back then–the new dawn of this Golden Age of Gaia. At last! And how exciting to see that pink on the horizon!