Caveat: It took less than an hour for me to begin arguing against my own argument below. I realize that I have approached a complex bio-socio-cultural issue simplistically, and I have genderized the issue of patriarchy, which is a genderless phenomena. These arguments below also neglect the presence of the two-spirited ones among us. I ask for tolerance as you read and welcome constructive dialogue.
It's already the middle of November. Ballots are in, and there is some good news on the horizon with some of the results. Madness has not completely taken over the country, I'm relieved to report. Though there are definite pockets of it that baffle the mind. Two names come to mind that say it all: Herman Cain and Joe Paterno. Ugh.
I wasn't sure what I was going to write about when I started this. I just knew something was bubbling in me, waiting to be articulated. As I type these two names, I realize this thing bubbling inside of me has to do with men, with women, power, blindness, woundedness, and fear. It's all right there, isn't it?
There was another full moon yesterday. I stood at the French doors of my bedroom and looked at the moon rising in the east. The light and the darkness were at that precipice where it seemed there were equal amounts of each pouring through the air. The moon, bright and clear, with clouds wisping across it, created striations of light and dark. It sat just above the tiptop of a towering Douglas fir tree that was at least a half a mile away. Yet I could see the silhouettes of branches and clusters of needles. Behind the tree, far far far off to the east, perhaps 150 miles away, if not more, is the graceful, ever present Glacier Peak in the Cascade Mountains. The mountain was a deep shadowy white etched against a dusky blue sky. And that moon, oh that moon!
So what does this scene I describe here have to do with JoePa and Good Ole Herman? I don't know either of these men personally. I'd never heard of Joe Paterno until about a week ago. He seems like a decent enough man. Herman Cain I wouldn't trust with a 10 foot pole. But I can give him the benefit of a doubt and say that perhaps, a tiny tiny doubtful perhaps, he truly has good intentions and truly believes that what he's doing is "right" and that he's "forgotten" ever knowing the women who have accused him of sexual harassment. Let's assume for the sake of argument that this is so. As much of a stretch as that is. So I ask again, what does the full moon in all her glory over mountain and tree have to do with a college football coach and a Republican candidate?
It comes down to this - the Feminine, the Goddess, Wisdom, Sophia, Ancient Woman energy, yin, the Bride - whatever you want to call this amazing, timeless, rhythmic process that happens month in month out. The waxing and waning, the tidal waters of the world responding to the gravity of the Moon's* push and pull, and women's wombs the world over also responding. We are tied to the Moon - our blood, our bodies. Did you know that the heart and the uterus share the same muscle tissue? That no other two organs in the body do so? What does this say about who we are as women? About how our hearts, also, then respond to the Moontime? These are miracles we are talking about here. These places within the woman's body that connect her to the earth, the oceans, and the Moon in ways that men can never, ever in a million years understand. And there's the rub.
Men don't understand. And women have no idea what this is like. Whether we are aware of it or not, as women we still experience the rhythms of the Moon. Our bodies know, even if our minds do not. We cannot know what it is to not know. It is like trying to imagine the absence of touch or to un-remember the faces of our children, lover, or mother. It is an impossibility. We have no idea what men can't experience because they do not have a Moontime. They do not have a uterus that feels the pull of the Moon and so bleeds. They do not have wombs that are universes within universes. And the men, bless their hearts, can't know what it's like to experience such fullness to the point of pain.
I cannot presume to know what it is that men feel, what they experience in that part of their bodies where my uterus sits. I cannot presume to know what the heart of a man pines for without the muscled heart of the uterus to call to. It is possible that there is something else that takes its place, something else that connects him to the ground, the trees, the mountains, the oceans, and the Moon. It seems to me that there has to be something. I just don't know what it is. And, I suspect, they don't either.
(Please forgive me for speaking in generalities here. I know there are many, many men who are very connected. I'm referring to the many more that aren't and specifically to a culture of patriarchy.)
Thus, we have Joe and Herman, two men who live in very different ways, yet they perceive the world through similar lenses. A perception of the world that says that power over is important, that somehow it's okay or excusable or, in Joe's case, "slightly confusing" when someone gets hurt who is more vulnerable than they. That somehow there's some kind of justification for rationalizing sexual violence. That somehow the body is not connected to the soul. It seems unfathomable to me that someone can feel a deep connection to the natural world around them and still find a way to put the blinders on when a child is raped or to lie when women have been sexually harassed. (And, just to note, I hate that phrase "sexually harassed." The connotation is that she's been pushed around a little bit, and she'll get over it. No. It's being sexually bullied often to the point of trauma.)
Maybe I am being idealistic and naive (it wouldn't be the first time) to think that a man simply needs to "get in touch with the earth" and he'll find a way to understand that power-over is not power at all, not authentic power.
However, here's why it might actually not be a pie-in-the-sky thought: For someone to truly get in touch with the earth, to feel it, to be in proper awe of it, to engage in stewardship of it, to feel to the very core of their physical body how they, too, are the earth, requires a deep inward journey into shadow and fear and the dark Feminine soul. If someone has done this, then, yes, I think he would understand that power-over is not power at all. And he would never again be able to rationalize or justify harm to another human being, especially children.
Men have work to do. Big work. In some ways, I think it's much harder work than women have to do and have had to do. For women, we must return to something that we knew once upon a time quite intimately. Men, however, must seek something that is foreign and, I would assume, quite terrifying for them. I'm not sure if men, as a general rule, have ever come into deep relationship with the Feminine. I don't know my history well enough to say this is true, and I'm sure someone can argue with me. But I think you get my point. It's tough work that men have to do. There is not much in our culture that encourages this work. And for some men, it's dangerous work - coming into relationship with the Inner Feminine leaves men extremely vulnerable to abuse in some situations. I'm not sure what the answer is. But I do know that sitting down and being quiet isn't the answer.
I think we who are awake, aware, and have claimed the powerful Feminine self (or are working on doing so) are being called to continue to hold up the mirror to Joe and Herman, to clamor, bang the drum, ring the bell, and shout the clarion call that being blind, deaf, dumb, in denial, and rationalizing abusive behavior is not acceptable. At all. Ever. Period.
I also think that we who are able and strong enough, who are awake, need to speak up for those men who are struggling to live into a new paradigm. We need to support their tears, their tenderness, and their quiet authentic strength. A Masculine strength that is made even stronger because it is rooted in the Bride, the Earth, the Moon. When we recognize it, we need to honor it. We owe it to the fathers who are trying to raise their sons to claim a deeply Feminine rooted, authentic authority. We owe it to our own fathers who have suffered because they have not experienced it and had no one to teach them. We owe it to the Moon.
We all have work to do, not just Joe and Herman. I would suggest, for a first step, that we go outside, sit a spell, and gaze at the Moon.
*I chose to begin capitalizing the word Moon from this point on because I am now referring to more than just the physical moon. It is a metaphysical Moon to which I refer from this point on.