Ode to Womankind on International Women’s Day #IWD2019

Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender. ~ Alice Walker

This year, as the world celebrates women’s lives and focuses on our unique contributions, the theme is one of balance. #BalanceforBetter is a meaningful hashtag, at least to me.

Balance is something I find challenging to achieve, and I think many mums at some point in their lives will have experienced overwhelm, feeling out of control, and a lack of time and energy for themselves. That modern day bitter pill of work-life balance.

It’s not just about the balance of opportunity and pay with our male colleagues in the workplace, but also about how to feel unconditional self-love (warts and all), and achieve a state of inner peace, lead fulfilling lives, able to express ourselves fully and be immune to the opinions and judgments of others.  The pressure comes when we struggle to transcended either our own or society’s unrealistic expectations. We need to be kind to ourselves.

My greatest wish for my daughters is that they are happy, confident, creative and courageous, able to seize every opportunity to reach their full potential.

It’s never going to be easy breaking out of deeply entrenched social conditioning; the unrealistic images and portrayals of women in the media, that imply we should look and act a certain way, should always wear makeup, have a perfect home (children always scupper that one), while managing a career and family like the most glamorous of Stepford Wives!!

I was pleased to see that Virgin Atlantic recently announced that they no longer require their female cabin crew to wear makeup or skirts. I applaud that move!

Or are many of these expectations and idealised personas something we as women often place on ourselves?

Like flowers, womankind populates the earth with a myriad of interesting and beautiful creations, each with her own unique characteristics; beautiful shapes, shades and hues, and certain conditions provide the best environment in order to blossom!

Having a strong Artemis Goddess archetype (as well as Demeter, Aphrodite and Athena), I am always keen to support and help my sisters on their path to empowerment. I plan to write about the God and Goddess archetypes from ancient Greek mythology at some point, they are absolutely fascinating.

The Return of Persephone (to Demeter) by Frederic Leighton c.1891 (oil on canvas) 203 x 152 cm

The Homeric Hymn to Demeter

In so many parts of the world women do not enjoy the freedoms and rights that their sisters in the West do. I admire their courage to risk life and limb and imprisonment in such brutal, corrupt and repressive regimes, so they can inspire a brighter future for themselves and all women in their war-torn, troubled regions. My heart goes out to them.

WOMANKIND

Even with softer flesh, womankind is not the weaker sex,

So long abused, raped and repressed by hatred and arrogance,

But the tide of feminism is turning – no longer are we objects

Or possessions to be owned; our gender an excuse for violence,

Mistreated for millennia, our meagre rights, hard fought and won,

We are capable, kind, resilient, intelligent, loving and brave,

Not deserving of being trampled on – we are done

Holding back, not exploring limits; it’s freedom we crave,

Our collective pain and desperation is fuelling change,

Equality and respect is a human right, not a privilege!

Now is the time for patriarchy to respond, rearrange

Their views – see us not as an idealised ‘image’,

Invite mankind to be part of the solution, not the problem,

Love us for who we are; sentient beings that can carry life,

Abolish any sense of entitlement to a perceived collective harem!

Every woman: be she a mother, daughter, sister, friend or wife,

Unshackled, to claim her power and divine feminine birth right,

She deserves to be valued for all her roles and attributes,

Free from fear and brutality, not having to constantly fight

To live on her own terms; parity – not discrimination – in her pursuits,

Men and women in mutual collaboration as normality?

Yin and Yang united: the basis of enlightened humanity.

By Virginia Burges

Yin and Yang

I’m aware that I have shared James Brown’s immortal song, It’s a Man’s World before, but this impromptu rendition by Jennifer Hudson and Sir Tom Jones on The Voice really moved me.

Happy International Women’s Day!

I’ll leave you with some great #IWD2019 tweets:

 

The Magic of Embracing Femininity in a Man’s World

“This has always been a man’s world, and none of the reasons that have been offered in explanation have seemed adequate.” ~ Simone de Beauvoir

One of my favourite songs is It’s a Man’s World by James Brown. I loved his voice, vibe and vitality. The melody is tuneful and catchy, almost addictive; but the lyrics are pure genius. I’m sure you know the song well, but why not have another listen? I love this duet version with opera supremo Luciano Pavarotti:

By virtue of their experience most women will agree it’s still a man’s world. The irony is that it can only ultimately be propagated and populated by women. If we weren’t willing to, or couldn’t bear children it would threaten the survival of our species, (cue the brilliant novel by P.D. James, The Children of Men).

A mother is the most vital person in a baby’s early life, the source of food, love, security, comfort and care. She is indispensable. Her femininity is integral to life. But before she’s a mother she’s a woman.

The divine feminine

Women have struggled against repression from the dawn of time to the present day, (with exceptions of course), having been subjected to rules and conditions that were imposed by religion and men who felt threatened by feminine power.

Femininity - Emma Watson

Our human rights have been trampled over in the most appalling ways. In many parts of the world women continue to be treated like second class citizens, deprived of education, used as sex slaves, domestic slaves; not permitted to show their faces and made to walk behind a man.

In Victorian Britain women were not allowed to vote, spawning the rise of the Suffragette Movement, spearheaded by heroines such as Emily Pankhurst. She was no less feminine for her bravery, sacrifice and cause.

Women and girls have been given away in marriage by their parents without a say in a commitment that will affect the rest of their lives and future happiness. Even worse, some have been murdered for daring to love the man they want instead of a man that has been ‘chosen’ for them.

Femininity is about respect for life in all its forms.  It is not about manipulation and control.

Unlike the cruel, ego led males that have trafficked young, vulnerable women and condemned them to a life of prostitution so that their pimps can rob them of all dignity and freedom and live off of their subjugation. It’s sickening. If women rise and live in their power these types of situations will become less prevalent.

I so admire the work of Angelina Jolie with the United Nations in standing up for Women’s rights. She has achieved her success by embracing her own feminine power.

In many parts of the world girls are denied an education in an attempt to keep feminine power from manifesting. That is why the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai is such an important role model for young girls across the globe. Her courage, intelligence, determination and humanity have thwarted hatred, ignorance and fear.

Femininity - malala quote1

An educated woman is a force for good in the world.

In the West, where women mostly have the luxury of equal rights (and in some cases equal pay), we still fight against injustice, prejudice and sexism in corporate life as well as mainstream media. The plethora of sexualised images of women on posters, magazines, TV and films contribute subliminally to the feeling of inadequacy that many of us (who weren’t blessed with supermodel looks) feel about our bodies. In my case after having children.

We end up comparing our imperfections against the perfect ‘retouched’ glossy photos where hair and makeup have been professionally applied so it’s never a fair contest. It should never be a contest, but it’s hard not to feel inferior when we are constantly bombarded with images of nubile goddesses in their prime versus our post motherhood forms.

Turkey - 1989

Yours truly on holiday in Turkey in 1989. It reminds me of my ‘free spirit’.

Sometimes it’s fun to be reminded of our prime! We remember that youthful part of us is still part and parcel of our more mature selves.

The Siren

A siren has an air of mystery; she is alluring and confident in her own skin. It’s not about sexual domination, but about being in tune with her abundant sexual energy. Perhaps, mistakenly, we think that men will only notice us if we flash the flesh, wear red lipstick, walk in high heels and brandish our ‘assets’ in plunging necklines. I’ve done it occasionally myself. But I firmly believe there’s more to femininity than appearance.

Femininity - Kate Winslet

By all means we should make the best of ourselves. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that if makes you feel good and it’s done with self respect. True sexiness comes from embracing our innate femininity and personal power. It’s feeling content with who we are, happy in our own skin (even if it does bear the stretch marks of motherhood).

It’s about making the best of our appearance for our own self-esteem and not always pandering to the preferences of men. It’s about embracing our ‘inner goddess’ by knowing that we are beautiful on the inside and on the outside.

Femininity - Quote_GaiusBaltar_Beauty

Understanding our strengths and representing our unique virtues and values in the world is the ultimate expression of our divine femininity.

femininity

noun: the quality of being female; womanliness.

“she celebrates her femininity by wearing make-up and high heels”

synonyms: womanliness, feminineness, womanhood, womanly qualities, feminine qualities

“she had always delighted in her femininity”

You are smart, sexy, intelligent, kind, empathetic, intuitive, tender and strong just as you are. Women can thrive in a man’s world by being true to who we are. A woman who loves and respects herself first and foremost will be a valuable partner in any relationship. She’s not clingy and insecure, but rather in touch with her own emotions and therefore more likely to be in tune with those of her partner.

Dancing and movement is a wonderful, grounded way to express and manifest feminine energy. Ilaria Masini illustrates my point perfectly with her contemporary ballet performance to Händel’s Sarabande:

Battle of the sexes

Any kind of repression and curbing of freedoms will elicit a backlash, otherwise there would have been no need for the feminist movement. It’s understandable that women have developed more traditionally ‘masculine’ qualities in order to tough it out in a man’s world or a challenging environment. But we must return to our true nature.

Femininity - dalai-lama

I view it as not being a question of competition but of collaboration. A woman is meant to complete a man, not finish him off! There’s such beauty and symmetry in Yin and Yang.

We’ve all seen and met a woman in business who dresses in trouser suits and acts like a hard bitch or a ‘femme fatale’ because she thinks she has to emulate a man to succeed. She betrays her feminine side in order to be accepted as one of the lads.  Deep down they will not respect her for it, they will feel threatened.

Women don’t need acceptance from anyone but themselves.

The interactions between men and women are most harmonious when both have an equal balance of their ‘anima’ (feminine principle) and ‘animus’ (masculine principle). I’ll be covering more of Jung’s work on this fascinating subject in a later post.

Feminine power

Embracing our femininity is entwined with accepting and asserting our personal power and realising our God-given talents. We can achieve anything we set our minds to.

“On the day when it will be possible for woman to love not in her weakness but in her strength, not to escape herself but to find herself, not to abase herself but to assert herself–on that day love will become for her, as for man, a source of life and not of mortal danger.” ~ Simone de Beauvoir

The qualities of femininity as I see it means expressing ourselves in whatever mode we choose. We can be nurturers, achievers, thinkers, lovers or whatever we desire. It will change depending on what stage of life we’re at. Many of us with children are multi-tasking for our lives.

Femininity - Strong Albert Einstein

There have been a few times when I’ve had to unleash Kali in order to survive. But I locked her away again after she had accomplished her purpose. Otherwise I would have been eaten up by anger, bitterness and revenge. Nowadays I like to call on Isis, Venus, Aphrodite and Athena, depending on the circumstances!

Just be…

Be a communicator, be savvy, be strong, be vulnerable, be a damsel in distress if it serves you. Be sexy, be passionate, be sensual, be exhilarated, be interested, be inspired, be lazy, be active, be funny, be playful, be sad, be brave, be scared, be emotional, be detached, be connected, be selfish, be kind, be giving and loving, be protective, be daring, be sporty, be adventurous! Don’t become stuck. Follow your heart! Your dreams matter.

Embrace the whole darn lot! It’s time we claimed an equal share in the sense of entitlement that men often display.

Femininity - goldie-hawn

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of times when a feisty female, (me included) wants to be held, loved and protected, wrapped in a man’s strong arms; cherished and desired. Sexual union can be just as important to women as it is to men. There are moments when women may equally want to take the lead and initiate all sorts of activities, including lovemaking.

“No-one is more arrogant toward women, more aggressive or scornful, than the man who is anxious about his virility.” ~ Simone de Beauvoir

By being authentically feminine we give men permission to be manly and masculine, but not in a stereotypical way. However, what you do behind closed doors is your business… I don’t know why, but a picture of Tarzan and Jane popped into my mind just then…

I love this candid talk about feminine energy and power by Candice Oneida:

To truly be a woman in a man’s world is both liberating and exciting.  When we accept our ‘inner heroine’ we can admire and value the ‘inner hero’ of men. Embracing our femininity doesn’t make us weak, it makes us powerful.

Until the next time, yours in feminine power…Ginny