I think many can understand this push to pare down the numinous, the infinitely larger, the unfamiliar, the unknown, the “other,” the different.
~ Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes (Untie the Strong Woman, p. 18)
In 1920 the United States Congress ratified the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. [Source]
In 1974, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act was signed into law enabling women, regardless of their marital status, the ability to get a credit card in their own name.
In 1978, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibited employers from firing a woman because she is pregnant.
In 1980, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – first established in 1964 – determined sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination.
In 1993, marital rape became a crime in all 50 states.
In 2010, with the passage of the Affordable Health Care Act, sex discrimination by health insurance became outlawed. Women still routinely pay more than men for health insurance.
In 2020, women, on average, make 83 cents for every dollar a man makes. Black women make 64 cents and Hispanic women make 57 cents for every dollar a White man makes. [Source]
I do not share the above information to point out, or at least not exclusively to point out, sexual and gender discrimination in the United States. I also do not share the above facts simply to show how relatively recent (in my lifetime) women were afforded the same rights and privileges as men (sort of, clearly not all things are equal).
I share these legal precedents to illustrate the ongoing practice to diminish the feminine.
In a country where “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are considered “self-evident” truths and “unalienable rights” there are still discrepancies, based on sex and gender, to the application of the law.
Gender and sex discrimination are not exclusive to the United States nor is this type of discrimination a recent phenomenon. Historically girls and women have been perceived and treated differently than boys and men. I know you know this.
My purpose here is not to regurgitate facts or to remind you of notable injustices. Rather, I invite you to notice how humans treat people and ideas that they do not understand, and consequently, fear. We make them smaller.
We make girls’ and women’s needs insignificant. Their needs for affordable health care, equal rights, bodily autonomy, equal pay, and safety are often discounted, ignored, minimized, ridiculed, and abdicated.
We deny girls and women the same access to education, housing, employment, financial security, and health – both physical and psychological. We also limit girls’ and women’s expression, leisure time, and pleasure.
Ignoring needs, denying access, and limiting joy are all tools contrived to make any being smaller, including the Divine.
As Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes states in her book, Untie the Strong Woman (p.19):
She [Holy Mother] is not an obedient building made of cement, marble, or bricks. She is not to be used as a length of holy wire to bind us all into docility, severing the other thousands of traits given by Creator to us all for being beautifully and reasonably human and soulful.
Holy Mother is not meant to be a fence: Holy Mother is a gate.
I encourage us all, no matter what gender or sex we identify as, to stop building fences around people and ideas that scare us. Fences are an illusion of control: a control that we simply do not have.
Instead, I invite each one of us to find the courage to be with the mystery – to sit with the unknown and the incomprehensible – to perceive the bigness without trying to understand it.
There are many things we cannot know – not in their entirety. No matter how many fences we try to build. I believe the solution is to practice finding a way to connect to the unknown without trying to dominate it. To view the mystery, in this case the Holy Mother or the Feminine, as a gate to wisdom without a clear or final destination.
If we treat the Feminine as a gate, then we no longer need to oppress, suppress, or hurt girls and women (other, in general) as a way to contain and to diminish our fear. The answer is not to make “other” smaller, rather the answer is to show up as love where we wish to find peace.
Kim Bushore-Maki is a soul-driven entrepreneur who understands the undeniable urge to create a business and a life filled with meaning and purpose. Her vision of opening a center where women could heal and grow led her to open Shakti in the Mountains in Johnson City, Tennessee: a place where the creative, feminine energy is nurtured and valued.
Since 2010, Kim continues to build and to support a healthy, vibrant community and now guides retreats, teaches yoga, and provides one-on-one services for women who want an immersion experience into the life-affirming, Shakti energy.
Kim’s training as a therapist and yoga teacher allows her to safely and compassionately guide women on a heart-centered journey to Self, where women re-connect with their beautiful, authentic spirit.
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