Embracing Gender Healing


Being a girl is so powerful that we’ve had to train everyone not to be that. ~Eve Ensler

By now, many of you have probably watched Eve Ensler’s TED India talk of November, 2009, “Embrace Your Inner Girl”. If not, I’ve provided it here. I just found it and was blown away by her ability to use language that is inclusive of both men and women. It’s one of the things I loved about the talk.

In attempting to speak about a subject that is charged for so many of us, she has come up with a metaphor, the Girl Cell, that speaks to a part of greater consciousness that exists in us all, men and women. By doing so, she is able to speak about the feminine part of all of us that has been suppressed in the Patriarchy.

She also weaves this idea of the feminine within each of us together with the understanding that there is something positive and life-affirming that girls and women have to offer our world that has been untapped. It’s a both/and perspective: that we all, men and women, can embrace our girl cell, and we can honor what women have to offer as well.

That being said, Eve doesn’t speak in this talk about the boy cell or what men have to offer. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t value those things. Who knows why she doesn’t. The reason I bring this up shows up in the comments that follow the video on the TED site. The context we are all conditioned in, the patriarchy, has created an atmosphere where there is much distrust of the feminine in us all, and much violence towards women. From a contextual point of view, much of what she brings forward must be understood in a new light. I would also say we need to understand, in a new light, what it would look like for men and woman to embrace their boy cell, those positive aspects that come from owning the masculine qualities that uphold and protect life itself.

As I read the comments, I feel so much compassion for all of us as we navigate these churning waters of not only external gender healing, but the internal healing we are all experiencing between our own girl cells and boy cells, our inner masculine and feminine parts. I wonder about how we can talk to each other, woman to man, woman to woman, man to man, about this. Some men were obviously put off by her talk, along with some women. Some men totally were not, along with some women.

In the end, this inner balance between our masculine and feminine, and the balance between these two parts in the external world, is what needs to happen for us all to heal, and for our planet to heal.

As a woman, I loved Eve’s talk. I loved that she spoke to the pain that men have had to endure, too. And, one day, I hope we have a video to watch that speaks of the boy cell and how we all can call this forward within ourselves.

I believe we will create a harmonious and peaceful world ONLY when we come to a place of true gender respect, where we’ve all seen through the rampant misogyny (contempt, fear of, hatred of women) and misandry (contempt, fear of, hatred of men) that exist today. Many are doing powerful work in the world to make this happen. Part of our individual work to heal is to become aware of the places inside ourselves where we fear, have contempt for, and even hate our own inner woman and man. That inner hate shows up in the outer world.


And, you?

Now that you’ve watched it, what do you think? How did her language of this issue impact you?

If you read some of the comments, how were you impacted?

How do you feel about the current state of affairs between the genders, and within your own being?

What pearls of wisdom do you have to share?

I’d love to know.

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5 Replies to “Embracing Gender Healing”

  1. as usual, a very elegant post here. one that stirs and salves simultaneously. (i’m in a very alliterative mood today.) i loved ensler’s talk because of what she was saying, of course, and because she included the males by referring to their girl cell. i haven’t read the comments, and may not. i get enough of that without going looking for more. i have mixed feelings here. i know a lot of women resent being referred to as “girl”, and that “inner child” theory has run its course with me, but the word “girl” touches a part of me that’s still there, still alive. i like “woman” and “female”, too, mind you.

    okay, i’m getting off track.

    i, too, want harmony – the kind that comes with respect and allowance for the other instead of obliteration of the other. and i don’t want sameness, don’t want cookie cutter cultures. females and males are different in very important (and often obvious) ways, and i like that. i also like it that we share some things, too, but i don’t want to be forced to share. when a friend was working on her thesis about her life as a sexually abused recovering alcoholic and her ensuing new theory for treatment of female alcoholics, sort of a post-12 steps plan, several faculty readers said she had to include males because they are victims, too. well, that made me fighting mad because this was HER paper about HER life and HER theory and HER plan. besides, she has been a female all her life and couldn’t address the male perspective with any degree of credibility (that was my argument). we weren’t dismissing the male experiences – not at all. she just wanted this to be about females, and i happened to think that was not only appropriate but absolutely okay.

    so, yes to harmony and much-needed balance, and at the same time, let’s enjoy some space in our togetherness, too.

    (it’s quite possible i still have some childhood issues i need to work on. like the ones that resulted in notes on my report card about how i don’t play well with others or share. you know, those kinds of notes. but still.)

  2. Oh, Jeanne. You’re a woman after my own heart. Stirred, salved, and all. Yes, to harmony, and YES to us being able to be what we are independently of each other, with space, respect and all. We don’t always have to invite the boys to our parties and we don’t always have to attend theirs. But, I can see that life might be a whole lot more peaceful if we learn to play well together. And for the record, I think you play great and share profusely.

  3. thank you, julie. for starting the conversation. in the short time since i left my comment, i’ve already started a post for my blog that riffs off this one of yours. already enjoyed a spirited (if one-sided) conversation with hubbie about this. (now if i could just remember all i said long enough to write it down!) thank you for receiving my comment in the generous, spacious spirit i’ve come to know as you. i did, i must tell you, fear i would come across as belligerent or argumentative – not at all my intent. just something i feel strongly about . . . and i’ve never had an opportunity to share that story about my friend’s thesis, a story that still burns my butt. xo

  4. “we weren’t dismissing the male experiences – not at all. she just wanted this to be about females, and i happened to think that was not only appropriate but absolutely okay.”

    Jeanne, I agree. Totally appropriate and absolutely okay. This is exactly why I created Unabashedly Female. It isn’t to dismiss the male experience – it is to honor being female and to hold a space for us to discover what it is to be female, since we’ve been told for long enough what we’re supposed to be, and god knows that’s not at all what we are.

    And, something new is in the air. Something new is being born. The sacred feminine is coming alive in us all, and women have something to offer that only women can offer. I think it is imperative we own our differences.

    I found it so interesting that both women and men honor the feminine, and women, and both women and men, disrespect and dishonor the feminine and hold up the Patriarchy. It isn’t just a man vs. woman thing.

    And, by the way, I’m glad you shared that story here, for the first time. I can see why it burned your butt.

    Love being in conversation with you.

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