Feminine 2.0

03/08/2011 12:11 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011
When I went to college in the 1970's, the Women's Liberation movement was all the buzz. Women's "consciousness raising groups" were growing up everywhere, as women shared with each other their secrets -- and anger -- that they, their mothers and their great, great grandmothers had held tight to their chests for centuries.

Feminists of the time were right about some things,

but wrong about others. On one hand, there's no

underestimating the explosion of formerly unavailable

choices that became ours at last as a consequence

of the Women's Movement. Sisterhood truly meant

something then; we realized that none of us would

succeed in life unless all of us were allowed to. And

it became unequivocally clear that women could think

as well as men, work as well as men, and deserved the

opportunity to do whatever it was that we wanted to do. It's

almost hard to believe that that was still somewhat of

a radical proposition only 40 years ago, but it was.

As with any movement, however -- whether a

person's individual journey or the collective journey of

a culture -- there were sometimes two steps forward

and one step back. While women were powerfully

liberated both externally as well as internally by

the feminism of the 1970's, we made some serious mistakes as well.

Looking back on it now, it's clear

that in some ways we denigrated the feminine in

the name of feminism. Too often we took liberation

to mean simply that we were free now to behave

just like men. In the name of feminism, we denied

some essential aspects of our authentic selves.

While feminism should have been nothing if not a

celebration of our own unique characteristics, we

insisted that we had no unique characteristics... that

gender differences were hogwash, and a feminine

woman was nothing more than a plaything for men.

Calling a woman "feminine" was practically an insult!

Words like nurturing and maternal weren't viewed

as feminine and therefore feminist; rather, they were

viewed as weak. If men could be tough as nails in

the corporate boardroom, then so could we. If men

could have sex and not get emotionally involved,

then so could we. If men could make business their

bottom line and not factor in the welfare of children

in formulating social and economic policy, then so

could we. Yippee. We were liberated to become their


The last thing the world needed, of course, was twice

as many paternalistic thinkers as there were before.

But you live and you learn. In the last two or three

decades, a great correction has been underway,

as women of my generation have recognized the

psychic scars left by our self-inflicted wounding of

the feminine self. Too often, having become men, we

then had a harder time with men. And having denied

the importance (even the reality) of our feminine

yearnings, we too often lay havoc to what is for

many women a natural yearning of the heart, born

of millions of years of evolution, to make a home

and raise a family. Choosing to be a "traditional

housewife" was seen as relatively unimportant at that

time: so much less important, say, than having a real


I looked at my own mother -- at her passionate

devotion to husband, children, home and extended

family -- and I thought I could improve on that! I

would go out into the world, you see -- out where the

important things were happening. It took me -- as I

think of took millions of other women, as well -- a few

decades to see how very wrong I was.

In time, I came to understand that spiritual, mythical

and archetypal forces are just as powerful and

influential as are political, cultural and social ones.

Indeed, we overemphasize either category at the

expense of something precious that the other has

to offer. And in a metaphysical sense -- given that

as Einstein said, "time and space are illusions of

consciousness" -- you come to realize that as far as a

difference between being "out in the world" and "being

at home" is concerned, there actually is no difference.

The concept of "out there" or "in here" becomes pretty

meaningless once you realize that everything out

there is simply a reflection of one's consciousness.

If anything, if we tended to the within better, there

wouldn't be so many problems without: if we raised

our children better and tended to our own psyches

more effectively, then we wouldn't have so many

political and social problems to begin with.

I ultimately realized that my mother's very traditional

role was far from meaningless. I now see that is a

woman's God-given role to tend to the home and take

care of the children: it's just that the entire planet is

our home and every child on it is one of our children.

Hell yes, women need to be out in the world if that's

where we feel led to be, but not at the expense of

our spiritual mission. Rather, we're in the world to

fulfill that mission, by proclaiming that the world is our

home and that we're responsible for all of its children.

And that would change the world.

Just as we wouldn't tolerate elements to enter our

home that needlessly endanger our own children,

so we shouldn't tolerate elements in the world that

needlessly endanger anyone's children. Homemaker

and motherhood are not just material conditions that

belong to a few; they are states of consciousness that

belong to any woman who assumes them. Women

should be the keepers of the conscience of the world.

We are keepers of the internal flame -- the light of

humanitarian values and the primacy of love -- and

our greatest power lies in keeping it lit.

Corporate profits should not be our economic

bottom line; the safety and welfare of this planet, our

collective habitat, should be our bottom line. On this,

we should insist. For we are the homemakers of the


Money should not be our societal bottom line; the

welfare of our children should be our bottom line. On

this, we should insist. For we are the mothers of the


Any mother, should she see something dangerous

in her home, would say, "No, not in this house! No

way! Not here!" And as women of the world become

the strong moral force that in our collective state we

are capable of being, then when dangerous elements

born of unrestrained greed and aggression enter the

world, it is we who should lead the cry, "No, not on

this planet! No way! Not here."

A common anthropological characteristic of every

advanced mammalian species that survives and

thrives is the fierce behavior of the adult female of

the species when she senses a threat to her cubs.

From the lioness to the tigress to the mama bear, any

threat to her cubs is met with the fiercest response.

The adult female hyenas even encircle their cubs

while they're feeding, not letting the adult males get

anywhere near the food until the babies have been


Surely the women of America could do better than the


Imagine if we were to insist -- as with our collective

political and financial power we could insist -- that the

amelioration of unnecessary human suffering become

society's new bottom line. From the 17,000 children

on this planet who starve to death each day to the

millions who lack a basic elementary education, from

the relative complacency of the industrialized nations

to the brutalization of women through the world to

the billion souls among us living as best they can

on less than $1.25 a day, it is the sleeping giant of

a conscious and awakened womanhood that can

provide the only sustainable solution: putting human

civilization back on the track to probable survival by

giving back to it its heart.

Women worked hard, and many at great personal

sacrifice, to provide for the modern Western woman

the extraordinary opportunities and powers that we

now enjoy. While not all our battles for equality have

been won, still enough of them have been won that

our focus should not be solely on getting more power,

but on how to use most effectively the power that we

now have. We have not only the right but also the

moral responsibility to speak out loudly for

our planet and our children, and for the millions

of sisters around the world who cannot speak up

for themselves. Not centuries ago but weeks ago,

a 14-year-old girl in Bangladesh was raped,

then caned as her "punishment," and then died of her

wounds. Let us speak, and act, for her.

The last thing we should do, in honor of International

Women's Day, is to celebrate it in some ultimately

meaningless way. Rather, in honor of our

foremothers, for the sake of our oppressed sisters

around the world, and for the love of all of our children

both born and not yet born, we should wake up now... kick ass now... and change this world before it is too


That kind of thing is woman's work. Twas always thus, and will always be....