These are dark days for those of us who believe in democracy, social justice, environmental stewardship/protection, and connectivity. A rise in authoritarian rulers – from the U.S. to pockets of Europe to Turkey and beyond – are threatening the values upon which democracies are founded.
Nevertheless a counter force grows daily. A force that both rises up in the streets in peaceful protest and brings success at the ballot box in electing progressive candidates. And at the forefront of these movements for a just world based on values of love and cooperation are women. Women who have been oppressed for millennia; women who only in the last 100 or so years were granted the right to vote in Europe and the USA; women are making our voices heard. Despite the backlash against women’s rights aimed at taking women back to the days of botched abortions and lack of education and jobs, women are breaking free of their shackles and stepping into leadership roles in greater and greater numbers every day. Once more the truth of Libana’s Goddess chant, “There’s a river of birds in migration, a nation of women with wings.” is revealed.
While both feminine and masculine values, traits and aspects are needed for a balanced world the masculine traits of assertiveness, competitiveness, ambition, and desire for material success, have gained supremacy during the long, long reign of patriarchal religious and economic systems. Women’s values, characteristics and ideals have been denigrated as valueless or have even been classified as pathological. Left unchecked and coupled with ever increasing technologies, male values lead to greater and greater domination, greed, exploitation and corruption.
Still one might ask, “Will it make any difference if women gain political and economic power?” Research suggests that it will. As Annie-Rose Strasser said in a post from 2013, “When women aren’t outnumbered by men, they tend to speak up more for the needs of the vulnerable and advocate for the social safety net.” Yet the research shows that for women’s values to become policy there needs to be an equal number of male and female lawmakers in office. Currently only a small percentage of women hold political office, making up about 20% of lawmakers in the US and Europe. 2018 just might be a game changer – witness the recent primary wins, ousting incumbents, of progressive candidates Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York, and Summer Lee and Sara Innamorato both in Pennsylvania. And once parity in group situations is achieved, women accurately represent their own interests and influence their male colleagues to agree with them.
The tools of the 21st century gifted to us by the internet – connectivity, access to knowledge, access to each other – are being embraced by women around the world. With these tools women are taking charge of their economic futures and taking leadership surrounding environmental and social justice issues. And of course the Me Too movement continues to grow as women say a resounding “No!” to sexual abuse and rape, claiming power over their own bodies. Perhaps future historians will name this century the “Century of the Woman.”
Of course there have been and still are women in power positions who can out-man any man. These women have embraced the masculine traits and values to the exclusion of their own innate feminine ones. Yet as Marie Balshaw, Director of the Tate Museum says, “there is really interesting research that shows women tend to make more holistic decisions and I think that’s because the burden of feeding and raising children and looking after the domestic environment falls mostly to them.” The question remains with parity. Once parity is achieved women will be free to use their own natural values and help men to honor their feminine side and values.
A perfect storm of rising autocratic regimes allowing a return to extreme patriarchal control coupled with climate change and instability, if left unchecked, could ultimately result in a total breakdown of society – perhaps even rendering our world uninhabitable for the human species. Only by recognizing the importance of women’s values of love and cooperation and then bringing those value into parity with masculine values of assertiveness and ambition can we return to a world in balance. Now is the time for us all to raise our voices and take a stand for the integration of feminine values into our political and economic systems. Never forget the “butterfly effect” of chaos theory in which small changes in one state of a dynamic system can result in a large change in a later dynamic system. Who knows – perhaps one small act such as showing compassion to a homeless person or attending a peaceful protest or urging one more person to vote- will be just the act that ripples through time and creates the change we all so desperately need and desire.
Here are links to just a few recent actions taken by women and groups dedicated to speaking out for change:
Woman are marrying trees
Women Speak Out
Women’s March 2018
Women Stand for Social Justice
Guardians of the Planet: 15 Women Environmentalists You Should Know
Judith’s deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards is available now. You can order your deck on Judith’s website. Experience the wisdom of the Celtic Goddesses!
Judith Shaw, a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has been interested in myth, culture and mystical studies all her life. Not long after graduating from SFAI, while living in Greece, Judith began exploring the Goddess in her art. She continues to be inspired by the Goddess in all of Her manifestations. In recent years Judith became very interested in the Goddesses of her own ancestors, the Celts. She is now working on her next deck of oracle cards – Animal Guides. Originally from New Orleans, Judith makes her home in New Mexico where she paints as much as time allows and sells real estate part-time. Give yourself the gift of one of Judith’s prints or paintings, priced from $25 – $3000.
24 thoughts on “Women Can Change the World by Judith Shaw”
I do agree that there is a river of birds in migration… One point, I do hope assertiveness is not a “masculine” value, women do not appeal to our “masculine” side in order to assert our voices in politics. Maybe we need other words?
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Maybe we do need other words. According to the work of Jung we all have an anima and an animus with the anima being stronger in women and the animus being stronger in men with widely varying degrees on each individual basis. Many of our feminine archetypes in the form of the goddesses exhibit assertiveness and even aggression at times. All of these traits, whatever their worded designation might be, exist in us all – it’s the balance we seek within ourselves in order to reach that world of balance and harmony.
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Your essays & paintings are always rich!! Thanks.
I think that it’s important what we call thing, as you seem to. Gender attributes and the choices we make are shaped & re-enforced by many factors, including culture & language. Jungian theory is important but since words contribute to the way in which we perceive & create reality, we damage both genders in naming particular values either “masculine” or “feminine”.
Balance, yes! Word choice is worth thinking about deeply also. Any suggestions?
Yes but Jung was no feminist. He and his followers called women who were not content to be the inspiration of men “animus-ridden.” I have said it before and will say it again, there is nothing “masculine” about my mind or my self-love and self-confidence and males who are as loving and generous as many women are are not “feminine”–they are human!
As for Goddesses, they are not eternal archetypes of anyone’s psyche. They are products of their times and places, and in many cases earlier Goddesses are reshaped to support patriarchy. What the the Minangkabau say about nature, “we take the good and throw away the bad,” can be applied to thinking about Goddesses as well.
But anyway, love your painting and your writing.
Thanks Judith, I agree strongly with your comment here where you say: “The tools of the 21st century gifted to us by the Internet – connectivity, access to knowledge, access to each other – are being embraced by women around the world.” That “around the world” is so mind-boggling to me and wonderful, wow!
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It is wonderful Sarah and gives me hope that we can find a way out of the mess we are in.
Thank you for this inspiring post, Judith, and for the excellent links. Love the chant you invoke and the painting you made to go with it. See you in that river.
For sure Elizabeth. We’re flying in that river together.
Dark days, indeed, and blazing hot days and frightening days. I have long loved the chant about the “nation of women with wings.” Winged creatures are miraculous. I guess it’s time for this community and other communities like us to become that river that flows everywhere. Let’s vote for women. Put the autocratic men (you know who I mean) in rocket-driven cans and ship them off the Pluto or somewhere equally distant.
Thanks for writing this post and pointing to hope. And, as always, for your beautiful art. Brava!
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Thanks for your words Barbara. Hope and tears seems to me my mode these days. Last night I watched the news coverage of the fires in Greece and wept. Later I saw a documentary made last year covering the volunteer rescuers and the Syrian refugees who had been arriving by the thousands on the shores of Lesvos. More tears as I saw it unfolding on the beautiful shores of Lesvos which are forever etched in my heart and mind’s eye. But hope grows as we see the goodness in people instead of the hate broadcast across our media so frequently.
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“There’s a river of birds in migration, a nation of women with wings.”
I love this image! But I see all kinds of people and not only women. People who know compassion, and the strength of gentleness, and the One-ness of all Creation.
Thank you Judith.
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Barbara there certainly are all kinds of people showing compassion and gentleness. Women and men together, with access to their gentler sides, will bring about the change. But in the past women had little power in the world and they are now stepping up and influencing men who might have been closed down to their own sense of compassion and one-ness to access those qualities within themselves. Throughout time there have been men who were already there. Men were also burned during the burning times.
Me, too! I loved reading the essay entire again. It engendered the hope I needed today. Thanks:)
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Sharon, I think we are all on pins and needles until the election results come in. But no matter what and no matter how long the time of darkness will be I do believe that love always conquers hate in the end. Fingers crossed that Wednesday sees us climbing to the light again!!
I’m with you, Judith. I also believe that love always conquers hate in the end. Thanks for your words of encouragement. And for you art, of course!
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We do need other words… as a former Jungian Pattern analyst I am only too aware of the pitfalls of anima/animus and the splitting that is inherent in that way of thinking. Integration of the two is what’s needed… and yes, we are a river of birds… may we be migrating…
Carol, Sarah, Sharon, Elizabeth, Barbara, Barbara, and Sara – It seems that we have a consensus that we need to find new words for how we describe traits. I have no idea as to what those words would be. The traits that I named “masculine” in this post – assertiveness, competitiveness, ambition, and desire for material success and the “feminine” traits of love, compassion and nurturing” are the only human attributes I sited. It is the balance of these traits within us all that is needed.
As to Jung I am grateful to have learned from Carol and Sara about the pitfalls of his approach. In many intellectual matters I tend to focus on the visual instead of the writing so I often miss important information. I certainly knew that Freud was a misogynist but wasn’t aware that Jung was also. I had thought that his approach sought balance but apparently not – sad but not surprising.
But I am interested to know if in fact others believe that the huge influx of women onto the world scene of politics and the economy will help change the world for the better? Or will women fall prey to the same pitfalls of greed and desire to have power over which has brought our world to a state of extreme crisis right now? Many cultures that existed and some that still do seem to indicate that when men and women share power equally their worlds are more loving and caring.
Writing that last sentence just brought to my memory the book first published in 1987 by Riane Eisler, “The Chalice and the Blade” in which she describes two types of societies – the “domination model” and the “partnership model.” Maybe we could use those two words to describe the traits that lead to oppression of many or that lead to balance and harmony. Any thoughts?
The future is female 😊
“But I am interested to know if in fact others believe that the huge influx of women onto the world scene of politics and the economy will help change the world for the better?”
Judith, I think it will depend on the woman. We have seen Michelle Obama, and Margaret Thatcher. Between them, they seemed to me to have very different values. And it’s values that form actions, more then gender. Certainly, having more women included in all aspects of life is necessary, because our gifts have been rejected in the past because we are women. But we seem to have gone to the opposite extreme. But how “the job” is done depends more on the person (integrity, knowledge, compassion, team work, etc) then on the gender. I don’t use the “masculine/feminine” division any more (the Pope keeps using it and it drives me nuts!) Rather I see persons, male and female, and look for the traits I value in people. If I’m having surgery I don’t look for a woman surgeon because she is a woman, I look for the doctor who can do the job without killing me.
PS. I think my age has something to do with this attitude. What do you think?
Barbara Cooper, Thanks so much for your thoughts. I agree 100% that ultimately it’s about the values that each person – man or woman – holds that matters. In my personal life I make decisions based on that. I have many very good male friends who are wonderful people and a grown son who has developed into a very strong person with a gentle and caring soul. My eye doctor is a woman and my acupuncturist is a man.
But I guess in terms of the world stage of politics and the economy I believe that as more and more women step up many more of those women will present in the mode of Michelle Obama instead of Margaret Thatcher or Sarah Palin or women like that. Perhaps it has nothing to do with being women but more the results of taking back our power and our voices which has been denied to us for so long. And certainly men who have and do operate from the place of compassion and love have had a difficult time in the world. Many such men have ended up dead. Currently my prayers are with the new president of Mexico, who has a long road ahead to bring the changes that Mexico so desperately needs.
A little side note – The other day I was listening to a progressive talk show on the radio. The hosts were talking about the urgent need to get out the vote for this November’s mid-terms. One of the men on the show said an interesting thing. He said that he was voting for Democrats no matter if they were pure enough for progressive or not and that in particular he was voting for women where ever that was a choice on the Democratic side.
Here is an inspiring and amazing video Written by Eve Ensler, Performed by Rosario Dawson to add to the discussion. (not sure if links work in the comment thread)
Things that have no good purpose live in our language. We have the refutation of bigotry trapped within the language. In a lot of ways, language creates the boundaries between groups of people and individuals as well, though on a different level.
Language has an almost magical abiility to trap people in outmoded damaging attitudes or free us from those same things. It’s good work trying to change all this, though.
Language is indeed intriguing.
No matter what.women are indeed great….
I respect them lot
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