I have been contemplating these lines for several days now. What has come back to me is the empty promise of “leaving it at the foot of the cross“ – which has usually meant, letting the things that matter most to women die there, too. I have internalized these lines to mean that I am no longer willing to leave anything at the foot of male privilege.
My work these last years has centered upon empowering women through the Divine Feminine. My vision has shifted significantly since I started. I am caught in an interesting vortex of new age mysticism and social justice, with Christianity and Islam peppered in between due to my religious affiliations.
What I am feeling more and more, is that there is no right answer. Feminists spend entirely too much time fighting over insignificant matters and not enough time digging down to the root cause of our oppression, which to me lies in male-centric spirituality.
My fear is we are often missing what the Goddess is trying to tell us. And if there is one singular message of the goddess, in my mind, it is that every woman matters.
There are a lot of people running around with good intentions that are entirely missing the bigger picture. Case in point: the photos of Malala Yousafzai floating around the internet.
As a Muslim woman, I am tired of seeing pictures of Malala exploited to legitimize American violence abroad. Like everyone else I deeply admire Malala. I love her – as my beloved sister – and I am rooting for her full recovery. However, we have made one girl more important than the hundreds more who are killed by our own hand. And in the process, we have trampled on the hearts of women and girls the world over.
What I was intending to write today was already written (much better than I could have done it) by Kim Tran earlier this week. (http://thefeministwire.com/2012/10/what-mourning-malala-yousafzai-might-mean-come-november-6th/)
“I find the violence perpetrated against Malala Yousafzai reprehensible in every way. As a result, I want to consider how her young body became both the site where the Taliban chose to enact physical warfare and also ideological justification for the very thing it rejects: an American presence in Pakistan. Put simply, how is the attack against Malala Yousafzai being used to legitimize American imperialism? In an election year, mourning Malala Yousafzai and celebrating her bravery should cause us as American voters to examine how women are appropriated time and time again in war rhetoric.” ~ Kim Tran
But the heart of what I want to address is still very much avoided among us polite women folk. The line I always feel trapped between is those goddess-inspired folks who want everything to be nice and rosy, and those who are angry – possibly perpetually so, about the injustices towards woman throughout time.
It is exhausting to be a feminist. There is always something to fight. And we cannot fight everything or fight all the time. I go back and forth between the peace I have found in the Divine Feminine and the anger I feel as a woman, sometimes even towards other (probably well-meaning) feminists.
But here is what I need to say: If you are silent about drone attacks, don’t cry publicly on your Facebook page about Malala. If you are silent about the epidemics of rape, domestic violence and unequal pay in our country, don’t talk about Malala or other girls in Muslim countries as if they were in need of our salvation.
This is as condescending as believing only a Male God could possibly save us.
The divine feminine is unconventional. She does not come to us as a Savior; rather she is the force within us who empowers us to save ourselves. She loves indiscriminately; you do not have to be good to merit her attention. As Mary Oliver reminds us,
You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
When we recognize, both individually and collectively, our value as women, the world will change. As we shift our worship to a female deity, the pulse of the world will slow to follow us.
When we return to the Divine Feminine, beating a woman becomes as unacceptable as burning down a church or a mosque.
When we return to the Divine Feminine, rape will become inconceivable. How can you pillage what is sacred?
When we return to the Divine Feminine, we will stop trying to “save” women in other countries and realize that we have problems of our own to conquer. We will realize that each of us is capable of becoming our own savior.
The thing I love most about Malala is that she never felt the need to ask for permission. So many of us are still waiting for our father or husband to sign our permission slips – whether it is for an abortion, birth control or schooling. When we feel the sense of the divine within us, we learn that we do not need permission for anything. Many of the “rights” we are fighting so hard for are already things we innately possess.
That is the lesson we should learn from Malala. It is not that one type of woman is more valuable or more exploited than the next. Malala is not someone we should feel sorry for. She is someone who can teach us a great deal.
We do not need more separations between us as women. It is those “differences” that keep us fighting over silly things, like whether you can even be a Muslim Feminist.
What I love about the divine feminine is that she is found in all the world’s religions. There is no separation between us and our sisters.
The Goddess speaks through all women, including young girls. Oftentimes, I find it is the youngest and the oldest women who speak with the most clarity. And ironically, we have a bleeding goddess before us now, held in the light by millions of people around the world. I am very curious what Malala will have to say to us when she is able. I only wonder, how many of us will actually listen?
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