“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
– Madeleine Albright
If you are a woman, did you know the most powerful move you can make for yourself and the planet is to stand for another woman?
Sisterhood is the antidote to woman hating. What is woman hating? Andrea Dworkin dedicated an entire book to this topic, Woman Hating, in 1974. Woman hating is the way in which you, me, and everyone else perpetuates the oppression of the feminine sensibility in the world.
We are social creatures and internalize the influences of our environment. In a world that values competition over cooperation, youth and innovation over aging beauty and wisdom, technological advances over preserving mother earth, and the masculine model of power that is domination and control rather than feminine intuition and imagination, you can see how we got here.
Universities and social scientists have dedicated countless research projects, articles, and books to the topic of patriarchy and its consequences. Woman hating is one more negative expression of this social phenomena.
You’ve learned to hate yourself and must unlearn this tendency. By doing so, you set every woman free as a result.
Here is a sample list of what woman hating looks like. You attack your:
- Body – I’m too fat, too thin. My hair is too curly, too straight.
- Thoughts – I’m not smart, creative, or intelligent enough to compete for that job, get that degree, or even have a qualified opinion on a topic important to me.
- Feelings – I don’t trust my feelings. My feelings are wrong. No one else feels like I do. If I speak up, I will be blamed, rejected, or made fun of.
- Place – I don’t belong here, there, or anywhere.
- Desires – I don’t know what I want, I shouldn’t want what I want, or I’ll never have what I want, so why try?
- Another woman – She’ll gain all that weight back. She must have slept her way to the top. She’s so pretty, she must be a bitch.
The number one issue that has been the source of suffering for the thousands of women I have taught or treated over the past two decades as a coach and psychotherapist is self-hatred. It’s the root cause for a good part of women’s emotional and spiritual conflict.
How do you get over self-hatred?
Resist the impulse to marginalize and push yourself to the side. Put yourself at the center of your life. Exercise healthy narcissism (yes, there is such a thing!) through self adoration and love. Instead of being the “them,” a member of the less important group of human beings on the planet, make yourself the “us.” Make a decision to get right with who you are, a force of nature itself, who has the power to birth new consciousness in herself and the world through all your actions. Next, place your loving attention on another woman and make her the center, too.
Don’t live up to the stereotypes. Recognize yourself as worthy. Stereotypes are the shadow images of oppression. They freeze your potential, and castrate your creativity and imagination. Stereotypes such as women are too emotional to lead a business or a country, too physically weak to help with heavy labor, or lack the intelligence to be good engineers and scientists only serve to limit what is limitless – you. If you can’t do this for yourself, then start by doing it for another woman. Encourage her to dream the unimaginable and to go for it.
Avoid isolation – tether yourself to a sister. Oppression of the feminine has become such an insidious part of our identity that we have lost sight of how isolating it can be. Woman can suffer from a chronic sense of loneliness. It’s hard to be a “part of” when you are earning less for the same work, praying to predominantly masculine spiritual symbols and figures, surrounded by a violent culture that turns the rape and murder of women into entertainment, and you are dependent on a mental health industry originating from the work of Sigmund Freud who characterized his female patients as “hysterics.” Give yourself a moment of instant affinity, a spark in this unconscious darkness, by tethering yourself to a sister. Go to lunch, form a support group, and share your dreams. Let the magic you possess reflect back to you through her knowing eyes.
Fortify healthy boundaries and establish a sense of place, belonging, and home in the world that is yours. The move here is to take up space. Say no when you mean no and yes when you mean yes. The personal is political for women. That means make your voice heard no matter what your opinion – right, left or middle – whether voting on a women’s health care issue like abortion, speaking up for equal pay at work, or simply telling your date where you would prefer to go to dinner. Boundaries are made by your active participation in drawing the line in the sand where you end and everything else begins. Help your sister to take up space, too, by valuing her voice and lines in the sand.
End intolerance by stopping attacks on yourself or other women. The quickest way to destroy yourself is to attack yourself. What negative or limiting beliefs are you telling yourself? What you tell yourself creates your inner and outer reality. You are that powerful. What you think determines how you feel and ultimately, the actions you take in the world. One negative thought can lead to an out of control chocolate binge or the decision to sleep with a lover who treats you poorly. Check out Byron Katie’s “The Work” for a quick and easy method to disarm the inner critic who is keeping you down. Do the same when you are in the presence of other women. Go up, not down. Speak positively about yourself and others. Avoid indulging in pity parties where you are attacking yourself or others.
I’ll be exploring the significance of sisterhood in my upcoming course the Heroine’s Journey that starts this Thursday, June 18th. The journey is a “disruptive discourse”– a counter cultural narrative that disrupts old ways of being and breaks the cycle of woman hating.
Yours in psyche and spirit,