“THE WAR AGAINST WOMEN”

Election 2012
The big picture. The deep picture.

All through the 2012 election process – which began months and months and months ago – evidence of what is being called “the war against women” has been coming more and more out into full view. Of course it was there long before the election. It’s just been building and building  again and now coming out into the open. This “war against women” has deep roots – in the history of our world.

In a short blog post, I won’t even attempt a summary of world history. Instead, I will start with recent history in the U.S. as a lens through which to look at this issue and the deep concern for us all globally.

The women’s suffrage movement in the U.S. culminated in 1920 with the passage of the amendment to the constitution – the 19th amendment – guaranteeing women’s right to vote.

If you don’t know what it was like to get to that point, it would be informative and enlightening to find out.*

How women were treated in the process of the movement towards women’s voting – even by our president – was horrifying. They were jailed and abused mercilessly for protesting, revealing the hatred and fear of women in the process.

Jumping ahead to the 1960’s . . . feminism came out into the open in full force. Women claiming rights, their rights, to their own decisions, their own choices, their own power. The right not to wear a bra. The right to wear pants, not just skirts and dresses. The right to not be objects or possessions of men. The right to be in control of their own bodies – to choose when they would have children and when they would not. To choose when they would have sex and when they would not. The right to not be raped or abused in any way. The right to not be limited and controlled at home, in the workplace, in the government . . .

And Helen Reddy’s I Am Woman supporting so many women to claim the right to a self.  A self with her own thoughts, opinions, feelings, decisions, choices, power.

Unfortunately at times this movement had its own distortions – most importantly:  (1) children who suffered when their mothers suddenly left to work or got divorced and left to go out on their own; and (2) “man hating,” “man bashing,” a backlash from the way men had treated women. Both of these distortions caused pain. And at the same time, they were an expression and a continuation of the struggle that needed to be resolved to the root. 

The issue as it still appeared at that time: Who has power?  How are we going to decide who has power? And how are we going to achieve what we decide?

Instead of the issue
as it truly needs to be held:
How are we going to make sure we all have power?
How are we going to share our power?
How are we going to make sure we all heal our wounds to our power?
And how are we going to make sure we all use our power well, healthily, and for magnificent good?
Not the good of some, but the good of us all. 

So . . . women were claiming their power, coming into power in families, business and government, and even in some religious arenas. Women claiming themselves spiritually led to a resurgence of history and practice related to the Goddess.

And women developed within themselves, with each other, and in their power in the country, as well as elsewhere in our world.

Meanwhile, there were those who felt threatened by the power women were reclaiming. Those who felt, believed, and had decided that you could either have power or not have power, and who felt threatened by the women in their part of the world having power. This is true in the US in those times and even today. And, of course, it is true all over our world.

Those who felt threatened started working – secretly and not so secretly – toward the movement back to patriarchy – men, the father, controlling women, having power over women,  possessing women, having the right to decide what will happen to women. They did this sometimes outright and other times under a guise . . . of law, of what’s best for the woman (or girl), of love, of God.

Of course there would be a backlash to all the movement and progress made toward women living from their own power.  Of course! Many of us knew it would come. Even so, it is painful. Many were blind to the inevitable. Many took for granted all that women had worked so long and deeply to create, and as a result, let go of the fruits of our labors.

But here it is.  We’re in the midst of the backlash and we need to continue our work to empower women . . . and men.

Here are some things that might help you in your holding what is going on:

The patriarchal grab for power, the patriarchal hatred of women – known as misogyny – the patriarchal attempts to control women – both long ago and today – is really based on two things:

  • A fear of being vulnerable and even powerless. A fear of being, in other words, defenseless.  What we’ve done out of our fear of being defenseless, is to become ever so defended.  You can see this in individuals and you can see this in countries, especially our own. To once defended, keep building more and more defenses.  Defenses against, at the root, our own feelings, our own fears.  One of the things I teach people with whom I work is that through the healing process, we can become undefended, but not defenseless.
  • A fear of the power of women – particularly the power mother had in relation to us as little children, whether we were girl or boy children. A woman can be as misogynistic as a man. A woman can be as patriarchal as a man. We all need to do our work with this. ** Every single one of us.

Many years ago, I published an audio cassette tape, originally inspired by a client who was working with me to create a ceremony in honor of her 50th  birthday. As she talked about her intentions, she gave voice to a profound and powerful truth: “Everyone’s afraid of the power of a woman come to her Self. Even the woman herself.” She knew this passage she was making in her life held in it her need to heal her fear of her own power.

And I knew her statement was a truth that needed to be voiced not only by her, not only in private, but way out into the world we live in. With her permission, I utilized her statement as the title of one side of my tape. *** My work with the use of power was already well out in the open even then. And my understanding of the fear of women’s power – by both men and women – was crucial to share.

People are afraid of the power of women – men and women alike. It is up to us as women to heal our own fear of our own power. And to heal our misuse of our own power, wherever we do and wherever we might misuse it. And it is up to us as women to help men heal their fear of the power of women. Of course, it is up to the men to take the responsibility to do their own work with their fear of woman’s power . . . and with their fear of their own, too. Because believe it or not, someplace deep in his soul, a man who misuses his power is just as afraid of his own power as he is of a woman’s power . . . maybe even moreso.

Remember, the issue as it really deeply needs to be held is this:

How are we going to make sure we all have power?
How are we going to share our power?
How are we going to make sure we all heal our wounds to our power?
And how are we going to make sure we all use our power well, healthily, and for magnificent good?
Not the good of some, but the good of us all.

Those who are threatened by woman’s power are responding as if they are really in a war.
As each of us responds we can choose to fight this “war against women” as though we are actually in a war
and are truly enemies . . .
of each other and enemies of ourselves.
Or we can see this “war”
as the deep call it is to heal our use of power –
within ourselves, with each other, and with our world itself.
We can only see the call
if our intention is to truly resolve our use of power
at the very root
within us and amongst us.

*Iron-Jawed Angels, is an HBO movie telling the story of this time and  process.

** To learn more about  healing the wounds of the patriarchy and misogyny inside and out . . . there’s a wonderful book that can help with this. Dance of The Dissident Daughter, by Sue Monk Kidd (HarperOne,2006):
http://www.amazon.com/Dance-Dissident-Daughter-Christian-Tradition/dp/006114490

***”Everyone is afraid of the power of a woman come to her Self. Even the woman herself” is one side of an audio cassette entitled Woman, Come To Your Self, still available through Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1886264023/qid=1007738534/sr=1-9/mysteroflifew-20
or by going to http://judithbarr.com/shop/.

You can also purchase the cassette directly through me, if you choose, by emailing me  JudithBarr@PowerAbusedPowerHealed.com .

© Judith Barr, 2012.

THE POWER OF A PENIS

As someone with the deep intention of helping us to heal the misuse and abuse of power in our world and the wounding from which that abuse comes . . . I know only too well that we all have the potential to misuse and abuse our power. We all have wounds, some from our experience in our families and some from our experience in our communities, our culture, our world. One of our responses to the deep, intense, raw, painful feelings from our wounds, is to misuse and abuse the power we have . . . or to misuse and abuse in order to feel like we can grab some power from the places we have felt and perhaps still feel powerless. And who amongst us hasn’t felt powerless? Who amongst us hasn’t felt powerless as we were born? Who amongst us didn’t feel powerless as an infant? A baby? A child?

I know only too well that we all have the potential to misuse and abuse our power – men and women alike. Men and women of all ages, races, classes, sexual preferences, spiritual traditions.

At different times in my speaking, teaching, and writing about the issues of power and wounding, I focus on different aspects and different people who misuse and abuse their power. I have published an audio cassette about women abusing their power. I have led workshops about how people misuse their power with money. I have done individual sessions with both men and women related to how power was abused with them when they were children, and how they have misused or abused their power in response. And more.

Recently I wrote a post about the horrible treatment of women in our world, pinpointing some bills in Congress (bills supported by both men and women) that would be harmful to women in our country. Although it encompasses much more, the following post also has as part of its theme the abuse of power often directed at the women in our world..

I simply want you to know before you read today’s post that my scope is large. My work is with everyone, men and women. Although I have written much about the abuse of women by men, I know that women abuse their power, too, sometimes in blatant ways, often in subtle ways, and I do not want to give the impression that I have any bias against men. And I also want you to know that I will also be covering the feminine abuse of power in future posts in their own right timing and connection with events in our world.


If you have a penis and cannot use the power of your penis with respect for both you and everyone else . . . then how can you be trusted to use other power well?

Saturday, May 14, 2011: Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, allegedly physically and sexually attacked a maid at a midtown Manhattan hotel. He was mayor of Sarcelles. He was planning on running for President of France in 2012. He held positions of great power.

But we could ask the same question of many others who have held positions of great power – including Senator John Ensign, former President Bill Clinton, Senator John Edwards, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (who all had affairs, hid them, and lied about them), and Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi (accused of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and then trying to cover it up through abuse of power).

Women misuse their power, too! Our focus right now, though, is on abuses we see directed at women, in a world where women are often treated so horribly and often still denied power . . . In a world where attempts to escalate the denial of power – the powerlessness – of women abound . . .  In a world where the patriarchy is not only firmly entrenched (in the minds and hearts of men and women alike) . . . but also in a world where efforts to reinstate and re-strengthen the patriarchy are underway in this very moment . . .

In a world where all of this is sadly, tragically normalized . . .

Today we will concentrate on this. . .

If you have a penis and cannot use the power of your penis with respect for both yourself and also everyone else . . . then how can you be trusted to use other power well?

The power of your physical strength. The power of your mind. The power of your position – in your family, in your place of work, in your leadership in and out of government. The power of money – in your individual life and in any group in which you have the power to utilize money and make decisions about money. The power of the law – on the street, at the police station, in court, in lawmaking bodies, in executive bodies. The power of the truth. And yes, even the power of love.

We all need to ask ourselves these questions.
Those of us who have a penis and do not use our power well.
Those of us who have a penis and, although we use the power of our penis well, we have thoughts and feelings in which we don’t – thoughts and feelings that are signs to us of something needing to be healed.
Those of us who don’t have penises and misuse our power, too – perhaps in relation to adult men who have penises; perhaps in relation to male babies and children; perhaps in relation to other females.
And those of us who don’t have penises and need to discern who to trust and who not to trust.

We have a lot of work to do . . . Will you do your part?

© Judith Barr, 2011