Patriarchy vs Love: Time for Men to RISE




I came across this post today and my heart broke open. I began to cry. I read them again, and I began to weep. I was taken aback by the intensity of feeling. I had no idea I would feel so seen, so understood, so hopeful upon hearing words such as these for the first time in my life from men I’d never met. The chains are breaking.

What I love about this post, is that it happened spontaneously, on the street, between two men who were strangers. And, as they spoke of what was happening, they expressed such grief and love, and wondered how they could change it. Then, they went on their way.

I wrote to the author, Dan Mahle, and asked if I could share the post here with you. He said, Yes.

This post was  originally published at Change From Within, by Jamie Utt, Dan’s friend. Here we go…


Dan Mahle at the 1 Billion Rising event in Seattle, WA

This week’s post comes from a dear friend.

Dan Mahle is a program coordinator, facilitator, and community builder living in Seattle, WA. He received his B.A. in Peace and Global Studies from Earlham College in 2008. He has been involved in a variety of non-profit organizations since then, including several youth programs that he helped to launch. His personal mission is to support people in uniting across lines of difference to identify common values & goals, build culture & community resilience, and share powerful stories through creative expression. When he’s not working, he can be found running, hiking, writing music, and eating tasty bowls of cereal late at night.



One Conversation: A Call to Men

I had an incredible conversation with a complete stranger today. He was an older guy who happened to stop by the 1 Billion Rising local event that took place in downtown Seattle. As I was walking toward the small crowd of mostly women who were holding signs and dancing, he stopped me with a loud, “Hey, what is this ‘1 Billion Rising’ thing?”

When I told him that it was a global movement to end violence against women, launched by Vagina Monologues playwright, Eve Ensler, his voice softened and his eyes darted away.

He started telling me about how violence had affected so many of the women in his life. He began tearing up as he shared that most of the women he loves have been victims of sexual assault and/or abuse. He recalled spending 15 years with his ex-wife who, despite endless medications, could not overcome the depression she felt ever since the day she was sexually assaulted. I could see the hurt and sadness in his face as he told me that he couldn’t find any way to help her. His mother, he said, had also been a survivor.

Suddenly staring firmly at me, he said, “Women shouldn’t be treated this way. They are the life-givers; we owe everything to them.” He was visibly shaken.

I looked back at him and asked, “So what can we, as men, do to begin to transform this culture of violence against women?”

We talked about how important it would be for more men to have honest conversations about patriarchy and its countless negative impacts on us and on the women in our lives. Both of us acknowledged, though, that these kinds of safe spaces for male emotional expression are few and far between.

I gave him a hug and he said, “I love you, man.” We had met just 5 minutes before, but the moment of solidarity and healing that we shared in that short space was profound.

It got me thinking: Why don’t we, as men, seek out more spaces for truthful sharing about our feelings and our experiences with patriarchy? Why don’t we talk about violence against women, about sexism, and about rape culture? The ‘1 Billion Rising’ movement is based on a single, chilling statistic: One in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime.

That’s 1 billion women worldwide. How can we say that we love the women in our lives, even as we are perpetuating (consciously or unconsciously) a culture of violence against them?” Every day that we are silent, the cycle of violence continues.

The Cost of Patriarchy

This is where shame often comes in. I’ve known it by many names: frustration, defensiveness, anger, aggression, rage, a need for control, etc. But it all comes back to shame. It all comes back to some deep-seated feeling of unworthiness that keeps us from meeting our most fundamental human need: the need to feel loved.

While women in our society are taught that their worth depends on their physical beauty, men are taught that our worth depends upon our performance, our control, our accomplishments. At some point, like so many women, many of us realize that we will never be able to fulfil the expectations placed on us. But instead of questioning the patriarchal culture that has burdened us with these perverse and insatiable demands, we come to believe that who we are is not good enough.

In an effort to avoid feelings of vulnerability, we methodically replace emotional expression with emotional numbness. And so, in our disconnection from self and others, we unlearn what it means to truly love.

As bell hooks puts it in her book, The Will To Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love, “The reality is that men are hurting and that the whole culture responds to them by saying, ‘Please do not tell us what you feel.’”

When we forget what it means to love, we often desperately search for cheap replacements: we work long hours at work in an attempt to receive praise and recognition; we watch porn or buy prostitutes in a distorted attempt to feel loved and sexually fulfilled; we buy an endless number of things in an attempt to fill the painful void of loneliness within. Until we, as men, face our fear of vulnerability and begin telling each other what we feel, nothing will change.

Right now, there is a powerful, growing movement of women who are rising up all around the world to demand an end to violence. This movement is a struggle for equality, but it is also a call back to love. It is an invitation to all people to transform the dominant culture from a culture of violence to a culture of love, starting from within our own hearts. We owe it to all women to stand beside them as they say “enough is enough!” We owe it to ourselves to finally invite love, in all of its fullness, back into our lives.

Learn more about 1 Billion Rising here.


“This movement is a struggle for equality, but it is also a call back to love.”

Blessings to you, Dan. I bow.


Women’s Love

Magnolia Flame

Women loving women.

Women trusting women.

Women healing women.

Learning to trust and love women has been a long journey for me. I’ve fought it and I’ve longed for it. Along the way, I have been a lot of things…sometimes kind, sometimes not; sometimes forgiving and deeply caring, sometimes jealous, undermining and a whole host of things part of me would rather not acknowledge, but nonetheless are true.

Learning to really love means meeting ourselves in places we’ve hidden away. I am grateful for the friends who’ve been straight with me about my behavior, both light and dark.

Through all of these experiences, I have come to know this:

There is a unique love that women have for each other. Opening to and embodying this love will change your world, which in turn will heal our world.

When I speak of this love to the women in my life, they acknowledge this love. They know this love, yet it’s seldom spoken about in the culture. It’s a powerful force. When women come together in love, we recognize our power together. When women come together in love, life heals. When women come together in love, we are no longer so easily shamed and or see ourselves as powerless.

It is high time we come together in love. Life beckons us to this love, to heal that which keep us from knowing it.

Leap Day call

The other day, just last week, I hosted a leap day call. On the call, I spoke of how each of us is sacred…every cell, every atom is sacred. And, I spoke of really seeing each other, how doing this is so healing for us all.

When I, a woman, truly and deeply see you, another woman, this love pours forth; love for ourselves and our womanhood, and love for each other. This love then flows out to all of life.

I held the call on Wednesday afternoon. When it was done, I was elated. I felt like I had shared something that really wanted to move through me. I reflected on the comments of the women on the call. They shared both pain and joy, fear and inspiration.

Something healed right then and there on the call. I could feel a healing within myself from participating in the call, from sharing my wisdom. I could feel a healing within myself from taking in the wisdom of other women, and from taking in the collective field that formed because we came together with open hearts.


The next day, I felt grief rise up, a grief of both fearing and desiring to open my heart fully in relationship. When I was with my late husband, I wasn’t as aware and conscious. I opened my heart at the level I could, and he was deeply respectful and loving.

As I’ve become more conscious, and now know the love that is inherent in a woman, I long to be partnered with someone I can open to in this way; someone whose touch is reverent; someone who wants to love the fullness and power of womanhood, not a muted form of it.

This grief was raw, not reasonable nor rational. It lasted through the evening and into the early morning hours. And then, as it moved through, I could see the innermost space of the heart is only for the divine. It is a place that is solely for the divine, a place that when I honor its sanctity, I feel more tenderness and love for myself. When I honor the inner sanctity of the heart, I open to myself with love, and in turn, open to another.

Knowing this sanctity, I have the full power and awareness to say, “No”, to any touch that is irreverent…including my own touch to myself.

I climbed out of bed and felt serenity and a kind of deep peace with everything as it was and is. I took a walk in the sun, a long walk. I was out longer than expected. As I headed toward home, knowing I would immediately hop on a two-hour call when I walked in the door, I checked my email by phone to check-in to anything I needed to respond to.

A Gift

There in my email was this gift: a comment left on the blog about the leap day call and what followed from listening to it.

“I listened to your wonderful Leap Day call last night, and I wanted to share the beautiful spontaneous loving experience I had. Just shortly before starting the call, I had put warm grapeseed oil, on my hair. I’ve been using pure grapeseed oil as a body moisturizer, after the shower. It’s quite lovely. As I was listening to the call, I was massaging the oil into my hair and scalp, which then turned into massaging my neck, and my face. It felt so wonderful, that before long, I retreived the bottle of grapeseed oil, and was massaging oil onto all of my body. It was such a beautiful experience. Sitting here, in the candlelight, listening to your beautiful voice, and feeling energetically connected to all women, and loving my own body, so tenderly and compassionately. What a beautiful gift.

Something has been shifting in me lately. For a long long time, I have felt that it is unsafe to be female…to be a woman. And so I have been hiding my femininity…my beauty. I had become hard, because it felt like the only way to survive. But lately, after much hard work and soul-searching, I have been feeling a softening happening, along with the wisdom that I now know how to keep myself safe. I have been allowing my femininity to re-surface, and it is such a glorious feeling.

The loving self massage was yet, another turning point, in me accepting myself, and my feminine nature. And a powerful message revealed itself to me. I have been craving physical touch lately. Not just any physical touch, but the wondrous touch of another who adores me, and sees my inherent beauty. It has been a long time, since I felt the tender touch of a lover’s hand on my skin, and I’m quite certain that I’ve never felt it, in the way that I deserve to. This need has been an ever-present companion, in my thoughts, and yet, it felt like there was still a wall between me and receiving this loving touch. There was. It was me. I was not treating myself, and my body, in a way that expressed love and tenderness…and yet, I wanted another to do just that. I was expecting someone else to do what I wasn’t willing to do….to love myself, love my body, love all of me, just as I am. To adore and nurture, treasure and cherish me.”


I was struck by the synchronicity of our experiences. She was listening to the recording, which opened her to a powerful revelation about her own self worth and healing. She was learning to touch herself with love and reverence.

During that same evening, I was opening to the sanctity of my own heart, and of my connection to the divine, also desiring to be loved and touched again with reverence.

Women healing women healing women…all being healed by the flow of the divine creation that flows through women.

There is something powerfully healing in women that is needed in our world. It is this love. It is this creativity. It is this vulnerability and willingness to share with the world.

This is how we create.

When we offer ourselves and our creations to the world, trusting that each one is exactly what the wisdom of life is pulsing to share with the world, healing happens. Love happens. Connection happens. Relationship happens.

How powerful it is to align with this wise, sacred creative force.

So, I want to know.

What creation wants to be born through you?

What might it take to trust deeply enough in yourself and in the life moving through you to create it?

I know there are voices that tell you differently – both inside you and outside of you. I know this.

AND, the creation wants to be born anyway, does it not?

Can you feel it?

Can you give way to your creation and allow it to flow through you into a world that is so hungry for this sacred, wise love?

I know what flows through you has a direct effect on me, on the world, on life.

At the heart of it all, this power is creation itself.

Do whatever you need to do in your life to honor what wants to be born and give birth to it.

I am, right now, taking in a spoonful of this medicine. I have something very important that is dying to be born. I’ve allowed it to languish and I can no longer allow this.

I know the power of giving and receiving, and the power of knowing the sanctity of my own heart.

Never has there been a more important time than now to be what you are: a sacred creative being expressing through a woman’s body.

Never has there been a more important time than now to be Unabashedly Female. click to tweet this…


If you’re inspired to listen to the call, I’ve decided to keep the registration open for a few more days so you can have access to the recording. You can sign-up here.

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