“Woman through her struggle to understand herself and to articulate the highest values of the feminine principle, could begin to make the moon shine so that it softens the sun-brightness of our present consciousness. In accepting her depression, her suffering, her loneliness, her longing to outgrow the inarticulateness and powerlessness of her past existence, she may accomplish something truly heroic and extraordinary for life, something which humanity in centuries to come will recognize and cherish. Each woman who gives birth to herself and responds to what life is asking her to accomplish, contributes to the survival of our species and the diminishment of human suffering.” Anne Baring
I created Unabashedly Female many years ago as a way to explore the question, ‘What is it to be Female?’ What exists here on this blog is a journey to answer this question.
My question was intentionally different than, ‘What is it to be feminine?’ I chose the world female consciously. In my experience and in my writings, I use the word ‘feminine’ to describe the ‘yin’ aspects of life. Just as there are feminine aspects, there are masculine aspects, too. Both are ways to describe aspects of life itself and all human beings have these aspects within them.
I chose Female because in my life, I was, from the outset, deeply conditioned to be afraid and distrustful of girlhood and womanhood, because American society does and our societal systems do; and, we are conditioned and taught to beleive what our cultural/societal teach through our parents, caregivers, and teachers. This is a longer conversation, but I’ll leave it be here because I want to dive into another direction.
I’ve gone through a very long journey to heal and reclaim healthy feminine and maculine qualities within me and to embody these in this female body into which I was born. One of the hardest things, and one of the slipperiest things, has been to consciously work with my unconscious bias toward this distrust and fear of the qualities of the feminine principle and of women so that I can embody them and offer them in the work I do as valuable, important, and necessary.
These qualities, such as vulnerability, tenderness, openenss, community, relationality, non-heirarchical value, connection to all of life, being, and so many more, are necessary to our survival. For example, we are disconnected from our Earth, our Mother, our home and our source of belonging, sustenance, life. It is our disconnection from the feminine – all human beings – and our disconnection from our worth as human beings who identify as female and therefore embody the feminine primarily, that have caused us to do what we have done to our Earth, to each other, and to other living creatures. When we value these feminine/yin qualities, we value life equally and wholly.
So to begin to answer the question, What is it to be female?, one must live this question.
What I have found in my own life is that the unconscious bias toward the yang/masculine qualities and power is strong, very strong, within me. As the feminine became more prominent within me, this unconscious bias started to rise up again.
Like the last stand we are seeing out in the world right now that continues to erase women, I began to erase myself and so much of what I had come to hold in reverence. I didn’t realize I was doing it. This is really slippery stuff.
I fell into a kind of deep loneliness, a kind of pain that I hadn’t yet experienced. I experienced a different kind of inarticulateness and powerlessness that I, now, remember from my past and youth. I walked in what felt like a desert of epic proportions, feeling as if I just could never quite find the words that had been flowing with such ease for so many years.
I see, now, that I had to feel the depth of this powerlessness in order to realize on a much deeper level that the mystery is what holds power and that it is within my powerlessness to this sacred mystery that I finally can embody the power that is Her.
I have been rescuing myself. I have been facing my own inner demons that devalue, dismiss, and erase Her.
I have come to see as true what I was shown many years ago. We will know Her when we see and value and trust Her in all women, in all who identify as women, in all of life, in our Great Mother Herself.