In the 21st Century, power will not change the nature of women, women will change the nature of power. ~ Bella Abzug
Power is only a Word
Power is only a word, but it’s a word with a sordid past…and a very sordid present. It has a lot of baggage.
Power, as we know it today, dominates. Silences. Abuses.
Power is abused, too. At some point, power became power-over.
Somewhere, at some time, in the ‘rules’ of the human world, a rule was written about power, men and women. A rule was made that says, men have power over women. Somehow we, men and women, seem to believe in this story.
The recent, deeply disturbing, widely broadcast story of Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani’s imminent death by stoning, once again, brought the tyrannical abuses of power-over into the bright light of our awareness.
A few days after the international outcry about both her death sentence and the method the Iranian government threatened to use, the archaic practice of stoning, I still couldn’t shake the visceral anger, sadness and powerlessness I felt. This was such blatant, abuse of power; power so egregious, that I shudder to contemplate just how often and how much this kind of sadistic power is used against those who are completely vulnerable to it.
In the swirl of these emotions, I felt a very real sensation of complete vulnerability as a woman. Here was this beautiful woman, waiting in an Iranian prison for a death sentence to be carried out in a most barbaric and painful way. And, here I was, sitting safely in my home, but acutely feeling an intense vulnerability, as if there was no separation between us.
Then it hit me, there is no separation between us. In a very real collective sense, what is done to any part of life, is done to us all. If we are aware of the deeper feelings that move through the human soul, we know this.
On this same level, we all feel the pain of abusive power, oppression and misogyny whether we are the abuser or victim.
As I sat with these feelings, I suddenly felt a tenderness open up that was deep. It was painful, vulnerable and raw. It filled every part of every thing.
I wrote about this tenderness, about a revolution of tenderness in the first post of this three-part series on Tenderness, Power and Grace.
I know many women who push their power away because the only power they’ve known has been used against them. I’m one of those women.
And yet, my power keeps pulling me to it. This is a different kind of power than power-over. It comes from deep in the bowels of my femaleness. It feels rooted to the earth. It feeds my soul. It nurtures my creativity. It is the source of my deep and abiding love for all of life.
There is an unwritten, unspoken, yet very palpable threat of violence against women if we do step fully into the power we know is contained within our beings.
I feel this threat of violence. Yet, this power must come to life, regardless. This is soft power, a tremendous tenderness toward all of life. It is a great compassionate love. It compels me to drop even more deeply into this place of fierce tenderness.
Of course we’re coming to the brink of extinction of so many forms of life, including our own – our way for so long has been to dominate, control and destroy the life principle, namely that of woman. She is the embodiment of the life principle.
What would life be like if power-over, once again, became simply power, the power to be able – to express, to create, to be, to act? I don’t know, but I do know it will have something to do with love. It will come from not rejecting anything, because what we reject and condemn in another, is the same as rejecting ourselves, and no peace can ever come from that.
The Power of Woman
This is the power of woman: to love everything, without exception. As the embodiment of the life principle, she holds it all, without division. This power can only come when she no longer believes she must be everything to everyone. It can only come when she comes home to herself, with love for all the beauty she is. When she sees the value of herself, she can know the fullest power that is available to her as woman.
How does woman do that when she faces the immensity of oppression, degradation and misogyny?
By turning to look at another woman, to look deeply in another woman’s heart, to see within her what she can’t see in herself. By turning to the earth, to look deeply in the earth’s heart.
By opening our hearts to earth, to feel the incredible suffering this beautiful, living, pulsing beauty is enduring, and at the same time seeing her strength, her capacity to heal, her desire to continue to provide a home for all of life.
Woman is tied to the earth more deeply than man. When we open to her power to heal and regenerate, we can know our own capacity to heal and regenerate.
Anne Baring speaks of women:
There is a danger that in seeking power and equality with men in order for her voice and her creative gifts to be recognised, woman may unconsciously reject the very foundation which gives, through her millennial experience as custodian of life, something of supreme importance to say.
There is no question that women are changing the nature of power. We see it occurring everywhere. As we do…
Can we encourage each other to come forth into our power?
Can we hold each other in supreme love and compassion as we travel this sacred path together?
Can we stand firm in the knowledge that we are worthy of the sacred nature we know is at the core of our womanhood?
Can we love those parts of ourselves that feel so difficult to love?
Can we know, in our experience, that we are all mothers to all the world’s children?
Can we love others with the fierce tenderness that might melt the deepest darkest hate into the most brilliant light of love?
I’d love to know your feelings and thoughts about power and women; about what is emerging through us; about your story with power.
This is the second post in a series of three on tenderness, power and grace. All three posts are part of the Summer of Love Invitational, where the lovely Mahala Mazerov has invited bloggers to write about loving kindness.