Thoughts on a New Women’s Movement Based on Communities
Worldwide women are struggling for power and emancipation. For a world in which women can take their place without positioning themselves either above, or below, the man; without fighting or having to imitate him. A culture of partnership where the genders, as equally strong poles, complement and love each other. A world in which violence against women can no longer happen. One in which women can come together and cooperate for the well being of all creatures on this planet – and for a new love towards men. How can this vision become a reality? By Leila Dregger.
Sabine Lichtenfels, the peace ambassador, author and co-founder of Tamera Healing Biotope 1, has coined the term ‘gentle power.’ In her book, “Weiche Macht,” [“Gentle Power”] written 18 years ago, she created guidelines for womanhood that are urgently needed to this day. “Feminine power is not targeted at men, nor is it targeted against our love for men – it simply, decisively leaves behind those male structures that have led to the worldwide extinction of life and love. Unless we women take a public stand, nobody can escape this dead end. It is now up to us women to again assume the political and sexual responsibility that has been abandoned for so long. We invite all dedicated men to join our peace work.”
Through this book speaks a woman who intimately knows many facets and difficulties of a woman’s life, who also knows and loves men intimately, and who can therefore give direction. Authentic female voices like this have long been disregarded on Earth. They have been silenced throughout the history of patriarchal domination. A wave of relief will flow around the Earth when they are heard again. Only when women embrace their gentle power can man and woman unfurl and encounter each other as two equally strong halves of humanity. Then a culture of partnership can be initiated in which (in the words of Riane Eisler), the symbol of the blade loses its power and is replaced by the chalice: the symbol of love and abundance.
“The power of male-dominated societies lay in breaking resistances,” continues Sabine Lichtenfels. Gentle power, in contrast, is the “power to overcome resistance through the power of the heart, and to deal with difficulties with lightness. [It is ...] a principle which even the toughest man will follow over time if they notice that it functions without revenge, punishment or hidden agenda. The tough men became tough because they missed out on this gentle power. The gentle power is the power of the mothers who resolutely protect their children. It is the sexual power of women who are no longer judgmental of the potency or impotence of their lovers, but with their gentle skills help to free the joy of life. Gentle power is the force that enables the grass seedling to penetrate through a layer of asphalt as it reaches for the light.”
Gentle power is the power to act from a deep anchoring in erotic joy, in communion with all beings and in global compassion – compassion for all creatures that suffer and die under patriarchal structures. Compassion for all women who, until today, in all parts of the world, are beaten, circumcised, forced into marriage, stoned, raped. Compassion also for the situation of men who were led into this fight by their great fear of the feminine.
Millions of women on every continent experience this violence. In the book “Half the Sky” (by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn), any one of the many descriptions of the fates of women could precipitate an ocean of tears. From where does this hatred towards women come? And how is it that we can still remain calm in the face of it?
All over the world human beings are under the spell of 5000 years of fighting against women. “History was written into woman’s body,” says the psychoanalyst and Tamera co-founder, Dieter Duhm. In his essay, “Healing of Love,” he further writes, “Consequently, women who stood out either by their attractiveness or by their will and courage were slandered as witches and burned alive. Burned alive! Once one has perceived the global suffering of the female half of humanity, one wonders how there could still be women capable of love.
This is a crucial point, and I would like here to thank the entire female gender. The female half of humanity must possess a very stable and faithful heart, faithful to the male half, which abused and suppressed it for so many thousands of years.”
To heal these deep historic wounds and in order for women to reconnect with their power, the demand for equal rights and female quota in high ranking positions is not enough – although we thank all those who have, for more than a century and with great courage, fought for emancipation and the end of violence. We stand on their shoulders.
To initiate a real system change and to start a culture of partnership we need an inner liberation from the hypnosis of patriarchy.
Patriarchy is Not the Whole Story
From archaeological findings in many parts of the world, historians have identified the remains of a matriarchal culture that once encompassed almost the entire planet – highly developed tribal cultures and temple cultures in India, Malta, Crete and the early establishment of towns in Anatolia and the Middle East. From figurines and sacred items they conclude that these cultures did not know a punishing god but celebrated a universal life force often represented through the mother goddess: the principle of abundance and omnipresent cosmic care.
Maternal power and generosity were the ideal standards that guided these historic communities. Their artistic creations bear witness to their sensual joy and the equality of the genders. (Sabine Lichtenfels describes this “age of sensual fulfillment” in detail in her book, “Temple of Love.”) It seems that they did not need to protect themselves from violence. Their towns had no defensive fortifications, nor were any weapons found.
In contrast many of their centers, sciences and cultures were so highly developed that many of their precise results remain inexplicable to date – think of the precision of the astronomic measurements in stone circles and temples, the secret of their constructions without machinery and their still mysterious ways of communicating over many thousands of kilometers.
There are still remnants of these tribal cultures of partnership which have survived in remote places and offer insight into their social structures and values. Amongst the Iroquois it is said that a chief should be like “a good mother.” Amongst the Mosuo in China women speak graciously, with humor and without shame of their joy of free and self-determined sexuality in which they choose their partners without false moral constraint or risk of social exclusion.
The golden age of Neolithic tribal cultures lasted for almost 100,000 years – an unimaginable aeon in contrast to the rapidity of the foundation and demise of later historical empires. “Patriarchy is like an accident: quick, destructive and pointless,” says the researcher of matriarchy, Heide Göttner-Abendroth. There are various theories as to the deeper causes of the end of matriarchal cultures. In actual fact, the tribal and temple cultures worldwide were overrun by hordes of warriors over a period of a few thousand years and were replaced by a ruthlessly expansive regime of dominance.
Whether it was in Africa or Europe, in Latin America or East Asia, human beings lost their cosmic embeddeness and with it, paradise. What had been sacred before was declared dirty: woman, Earth, sexuality. Since then womankind has become the symbol for darkness and evil. She was robbed of her high social position as a pillar within the community. She was denied a voice in the public realm. With the introduction of marriage she was only allowed to direct her sexual joy towards one man. Power was no longer measured in the giving and protection of life but in the destruction of life. To this day fear has reigned over the world.
Patriarchy brought forth many ideologies and religions of domination. Whether it is Christianity or Islam, communism or capitalism, they all agreed on one thing – fighting against all things sexual. And fighting against the woman. Her sexual nature and her erotic attractiveness gave her power over the man because of his immense yearning for it, but he could not control or domesticate her. In order to reign over the woman nevertheless, man applied a principle that has determined the course of history ever since: divide and conquer. He divided the sacred from the erotic. From then on there was on the one side the chaste heavenly virgin and mother, which the man glorified and whose body was beyond his reach. On the other side there was the seductress who he locked in the cellars of forbidden lust where he unleashed his repressions upon her. But the real woman remained hidden to the man.
In their misery women finally accepted the sexual morality that was forced on them as their own. Women today follow this as if under hypnosis. Believing it would be for the sake and glory of God, they suppress their own sexuality and the sexuality of their daughters (and sons).
It does not make sense to hold the past as a reproach against man. With the suppression of the woman the man also destroyed a part of himself, a part of his potency, a part of his capacity for compassion – and as Barry Long says, the “only authority man can have over woman is love.” Patriarchy failed to see that only together could the genders reach their full grandeur. The world only blossoms between the equally strong poles of man and woman. If one of these poles is silenced the other loses its counterpart, the result of this is one-sidedness and lonely harshness. The consequences of this – fear, violence, depression and destruction made the world suffer to this very day. For the benefit of all beings, for all the children who want to grow up in freedom, on behalf of the original love between men and women – this perverse world must return to order.
Women for an Erotic Peace Culture
We live in a time of global transformation. Patriarchy has reached its end. Men and women find themselves in the ruins of a misguided history. They have the chance to start anew. What will they do? Maybe they will first pause and look inward before they call for new solutions and programs. Perhaps they will first become clear about the roots of where the history of violence and domination began – in the exclusion and suppression of Eros. They will understand – there will be no peace on Earth so long as there is war in love. Violence and fear will vanish from Earth once Eros will again have its place in the communities of human beings. An erotic culture is a culture where Eros is no longer a threat but awakens joy, trust and universal love. Only an erotic culture is a peace culture.
Women will recognize that their fulfilment in love does not depend on having a man for themselves.
The life-long partnerships they desire do not arise from vows of faithfulness or promises, but from authentically shared interest, and from the common work towards a new Earth. Women who recognize this will no longer bind their great loving power and their erotic knowledge to a single man. They are meant to be much greater and much more encompassing. They will also no longer wait for acknowledgement, but utilize their gentle power and their feminine qualities wherever they are needed. All areas of life, be it ecology, politics or economy, will be differently oriented if women connect themselves with their source and accept their meaning and task in this world.
They will create spaces of trust and solidarity amongst women, including, and especially with the ones that love the same men. They will step out of comparison, for they will understand that comparison is the death of compassion and jealousy is no sign of love. Mature women will no longer see the younger ones as competitors but actively support them on their way towards womanhood. They will no longer unconsciously act out the anger that has gathered itself within them throughout history, but pause and regain the power that was stuck in them.
Then they will be able to consciously steer and utilize this power for an absolute NO to war and destruction, and for an equally absolute YES to love and life. They create social structures that are based on transparency, trust and mutual support; communities in which lying and deceit have no evolutionary advantage any longer. In such places, friends and enemies will encounter each other, end their quarrels and find forgiveness. Children can grow up freely and protected because parents who no longer have to lie, will love each other for their entire lives.
A utopia? A vision? Yes, but one whose time has come and that already begins fulfilling itself in the first places on Earth. Sabine Lichtenfels writes, “If the dream of a fearless world of free love is dreamt evermore clearly; if we more and more strongly develop the information that is needed for its manifestation; if we are embedded in it, and if the universe is reflected in this vision then it will manifest itself.”
Sabine Lichtenfels: “Temple of Love – A Journey into the Age of Sensual Fulfillment”
Riane Eisler: “The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future”