Around 12,000 years ago, when agricultural societies began to form, women were honoured and revered. In ancient India, women were considered superior to men. What happened to this world?
Early religions included both male and female gods and goddesses. The Goddess of Fertility was more powerful than the God of the Sky. It was the Earth-goddess, Gaia, who gave birth to all the Gods.
When monotheism, the belief in one God, was introduced, the female started to lose her reign. As more and more pagan religions were suppressed, women were reduced to an inferior position. Masculine rulers usurped feminine power in the societies they conquered, and they absorbed and distorted the feminine into their own beliefs. Over time, goddesses became saints and were reinvented as nuns. The Goddess/Mother figure began to disappear from view, and eventually the female principle was silenced. The Christian trinity, which had previously been represented by Maiden, Mother, and Crone, each symbolizing a stage in the female life cycle, was replaced by a male deity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Today's corporations, religious institutions, political organizations and educational systems were designed hundreds of years ago around this masculine structure. They operate as hierarchies with a male leader at the top, just like the Christian trinity. These traditional structures value a logical, textual, competitive, and analytical perspective. This approach is considered to be strong and necessary for survival. The feminine approach – less logical and more intuitive, less analytical and more emotional, less textual and more aesthetic, less competitive and more cooperative – is considered less essential and is therefore devalued.
Today, for the most part, men continue to run the world. According to a 2009 study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, women occupied only 37% of management roles in the boardroom, and more women currently work in low-level supervisor positions than in senior ones. A recent report by the Conference Board of Canada says that men are currently more than twice as likely to hold a senior executive position than women. A report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says women make up only 25% of provincial and territorial legislatures and they lag even farther behind in the private sector with only 14.5% of seats on corporate boards. Only one of Canada’s top 100 CEOs is a woman.
Women bring many outstanding qualities to the leadership role - confidence, vision, a well developed sense of work/life balance, great education, a sense of giving to others, a nurturing spirit, empathy, compassion and kindness. In a world where we value competition, status, power, and control (all masculine qualities), we desperately need these feminine qualities.
If we wish to we-balance our world, we need to flood our institutions with female leaders. When we combine the rational masculine with the empathic feminine, we gain a balanced wisdom. We need both the masculine and the feminine, the yin and the yang, in order to restore wisdom and balance to our world.
The old male ways of controlling the world, which worked well for us for many centuries, are no longer working. Our world is in disarray. The feminine, viewed as a luxury in our traditional world, is now essential for our survival.
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Debbie L. Kasman
Principal Newcastle Public School and Author of Lotus of the Heart: Reshaping the Human and Collective Soul