That title should get some attention! But, that is indeed the topic. This post was originally written as a letter to the 1Mandala team on a paragraph we are developing on 'What is Co-Creation?'. I've edited it to post on the general issue and experience.
Two weeks ago, here in Sagada, I had the pleasure of entertaining two amazing women from Manila who both work with NGO's focued on women's rights. One has been representing women in court who have been abused. The other works at and lobbies for women's reproductive rights in the Philipines.
When I first met them, they had the tensest vibe going on. Me, all chill here in Sagada, almost elected not to hang with them.
But, I did... and I learned fast why they were so stressed-- they are doing incredibly important and difficult work with women and girls who have faced the worst types of abuse and injustice and the social systems that permit it.
They told the story of girls from a countryside province here in the Philipines who were tricked into prostitution in the city. Forced to swallow heroin capsules they were used to smuggle drugs across borders here, and used as sexual bribery for customs officials. Fucking terrible.
How can men do this to women? How can humans do this to humans? It's not just a few bad people, there are many people involved in such schemes. This was the worst example of a pattern of exploitation broadly endemic that to legally deal with all the cases is overwhelmingly impossible.
My other new friend works with women's and reproductive rights lobbying. Her organization pressures the government for change, publishes examples of abuse and brings attention to the issues in the media. She lamented that despite the importance of the ideas that she is working with, they are so abstract and lofty that they are inaccessible to the women and men in the villages that really need to hear them and understand them most. Most don't read that much and are busy just making ends meet-- they don't have much opportunity to explore abstracts like gender roles and equality. And yet, for all the legislation, the change has to happen here and in these people's hearts first.
And so, the patterns continue and horrendous situations like this continue to manifest. We talked that it's not just the Philipines, it is a dynamic around the world. Sex tourism is a major problem here too-- and this is Americans and Canadians who are the ones perpetuating it. Then there's the massive pornography industry. Then there's the women/human trafficking business that is now bigger than the arms trade. This exploitative dynamic goes deep worldwide.
Despite their important work representing and bringing these issues to the fore, they expressed a feeling of not being able to tackle the root. They were dealing with the symptoms on a the top, whereas the fundamental dis-ease, dis-harmony was not being addresses.
We agreed that it is something deep in the human collective unconscious that has caused a power imbalance of the masculine and feminine, in such a way that one has come to dominate the other.
And so what is the root? Where do these skewed values that enable the dominating and exploitation of the feminine come from? And how to heal it?
There is clearly a religious dimension to it. The religions if the world have a definitive over-valuation of the masculine over feminine. This imbalance that developed over the last mellenia has then effected Western philosophy-- almost all the major philosophers of the last five hundred years have been male. The ideas and energetic social contribution of females has been repressed, banned and outright demonized. And thus we find ourselves in an age where the values and contributions of the feminine principle are sorely lacking in our civilization, communities and ourselves.
I am still reflecting on this: where do you think the imbalance comes from?
I will follow up on this in a second post. I'd like to share what we are writing for the 1Mandala. Let me leave off with this quotation:
"The things we most yearn for can't be created with an exclusively masculine system of power based on control, analysis and logical, linear thinking, nor can they be executed with a strategic plan.
Feminine Power on the other hand, is a magnetic, co-creative power that gives us access to create those things we most deeply desire as humans--such as love, intimacy, connection, belonging, creativity, self-expression, aliveness, meaning, purpose, contribution and a brighter future for generations to come."
-- Katherine Zammit