I have read a few articles recently about the oppression of women in Ireland; the refusal of the Irish and Northern Irish governments to recognise the right of a woman to have agency over her own body, her reproductive rights and the fundamental right for her to choose whether to allow a pregnancy to proceed or not should she choose to have an abortion. Being pregnant out of wedlock led to young women, in the not so distant past, being detained like prisoners in the Magdalene Laundries – shamed into hiding for partaking in an act that is a natural expression of all human beings.
The fact of the act being committed was revealed in the bulging abdomen of the resulting pregnancy and with no ring on the finger – well clearly a sinful crime had been committed. One that warranted not only locking away from the eyes of the ‘good-living’ people, lest they should be tainted by such a sight, but the enforced removal of those children from their mothers and selling off to the highest bidder – now that is a real crime. Some would call it trafficking – yet it was carried out by the nuns of the Catholic Church, who were supposed to be representatives of the love of God and Christ.
The lack of love, charity and compassion are all too apparent when we stand where we are today and look back – yet it was condoned and supported by prevailing attitudes and beliefs of the day, beliefs that were largely, if not totally, inculcated by the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church, indeed Christianity overall, has a longstanding history of male domination and supremacy with oppression of women that is still active today. ‘Barefoot and pregnant’ was considered the optimum state for Irish women to be in along of course with being ‘chief cook and bottle-washer’ and obedience to the so-called ‘Master of the house’ was expected.Christianity, and the Catholic Church in particular, have an entrenched fear of women and sex, perhaps harking back to Eve – the evil temptress who lured Adam to his fall. Even today in what is supposed to be Modern Britain – a woman is still blamed and shamed should she be molested or raped whilst under the influence of alcohol or if she happened to be wearing a short skirt and is assumed to have been ‘asking for it’, with little responsibility being laid at the feet of the men who commit such crimes.
But why is there this fear of women in the Church? Is it all down to the fear of the evil temptress seducing a man who has no control over himself or his penis?
What is really going on?
And how have we as women played into the hands of those who would perpetuate this patriarchal domination and supremacy?
What if the key to addressing this domination is not just a case of men piping down, coming to their senses and realizing we are all equal (which is of course needed), but that we as women also need to step-up and reclaim our true power in order to bring true harmony to our relationships?
What if patriarchal domination and male supremacy have been around for sooooo long and are deeply entrenched in many spheres, partly because we have been submissive and given our power away to men? OUCH!
If we subjugate our own needs and what we feel is true in order to please, not rock the boat, to keep the peace, to be accepted, to be seen, to earn a modicum of affection, to be liked and ultimately to be loved and not rejected – then we are also contributing to and partly responsible for the ongoing reign of male domination and supremacy. A BIG OUCH! A sobering thought perhaps – but one that needs to be considered if we are to truly address these issues in a way that is effective and not just produce a knee-jerk emotive response that doesn’t really get to the heart of the matter.
It becomes even more apparent when we consider the many ways that we as women not just subjugate our own needs but accept levels of abuse from some men that are deeply harming and in no way loving. Abuse is abuse – be it physical, mental, emotional or sexual – and none of it is loving or comes from love. Perhaps stating the obvious – but it needs to be said, for how many women stay with and put up with levels of abuse in order to have a partner, a husband, a boyfriend rather than being on their own? How deep is the lack of self-worth that we as women would prefer to stay with someone who abuses us, rather than be in our own loving company?
But perhaps the question is – are we truly loving in our own company? Do we hold ourselves with the same quality of love, care and kindness as we do for those we say we love or are we harder, more critical and judgemental of ourselves than we are to our friends or lovers? Are we truly gentle, tender and nurturing with ourselves, do we value and deeply appreciate all that we bring to the world, honouring our sensitivity, our delicateness and preciousness – a preciousness that is innate in every girl and woman.
Do we ever stop to appreciate just how delicious we are?
What if the Catholic Church fears not the evil temptress but the true power of a woman? It’s not the sexual seductress or the ‘hysterical’ emotional female that they fear but the divine glory of a woman in her true power and, dare I say, a woman who is Godly. Yes indeed, we may hear of Godly men but how often do we hear of Godly women – not the stereotypical humility, poverty and chastity of a submissive nun but a woman who is fully in this world but not of this world and knows it, a woman who embodies the fullness of love that she is and who is truly powerful?
Such a woman does not need approval from the Catholic church or any church or any body of people to live her life the way she feels to, she does not need to be liked or accepted, recognized or identified by anyone, for she lives knowing the truth of who she is, directed by an inner compass that guides her through the paths of life. Be the waters stormy or tranquil, she remains steady, consistent, dispassionate, calm, centered, gracefully gliding through with equanimity to the travails before her or around her. She is not given to emotional outbursts, rage, frustration, jealousy or anger and never does she compare herself detrimentally to another woman. She is attuned to a quality within herself that she knows herself by, a quality of stillness that is loving, joyful and harmonious. Such harmony is reflected in her innate ability to live according to her natural rhythms and cycles, in tune with all of life, yet unimposed upon by the outer tempo and fast pace of human life. She knows that by deeply honouring the sensations and feelings of her own body, that she is connected with all of life and has access to the wisdom of the ages.
She does not need to wear short skirts or sexy clothes to feel sexy – for she owns her innate sexiness – a natural confidence and joy of being who she is in her own body with no desire to be someone else or to be like someone else. She knows her true beauty and that of every other woman comes from within and is not defined by clothes or jewelry or outer accoutrements. That said, she does not hold back in expressing her essence and glory through what she wears, which for some may be short and sexy or bright, bold and dramatic, while for others it may be subdued, romantic, classic or natural. She does not dress to gain attention or to impress but wears the clothes that express who she is, in accordance with her inner knowing of exactly what is needed to be worn that day or evening.
A woman in her true power does not need a partner or children to feel whole and complete – she knows she already is that, and she brings all of her to all that she does including to her partners. An intimate partner for her is not about finding someone to fill the gap or hole of emptiness and the unmet needs but to grow and evolve ever more deeply in and with love with another that is then reflected in her relationships with all. She does not need to be a mother in order to mother – for a woman in her true power holds all equally in the womb of her loving gaze. She has the power of a smile that can melt the hardest of hearts, and her presence and light are felt and seen by all when she enters a room, whether they are aware of it or not.
Her eyes twinkle and sparkle reflecting the light of the stars, but she is not star-struck or hungry for fame. Playful and lighthearted she is a joy to be around. Intelligent and wise she knows more than her years portray, a wisdom borne of lifetimes of choices and lessons learned. She is responsible for her life and her choices, for she knows that how she lives matters, the quality of her choices matter, the way she moves, speaks, thinks, acts – everything matters. She no longer entertains abuse of herself by herself or anyone else and is willing to call it out that others may know what is abusive and what is love.
She is sassy and sexy, beautiful and divine.
For this Godly woman is not anointed or ordained by any church or religion in the land but lives from the God-given purity of the love in her own heart. A purity of love that has the capacity to hold the world and all of humanity with love, irrespective of their errant ways, a love that does not need to forgive for it never condemns nor judges. A love that observes all, holds all, heals all and reflects to all that they too are that love.
This is not a utopian ideal or made up caricature of a woman that is ‘too good to be true’ – for the true power of a woman lives in every woman in the land – but we have to live it and claim it and no longer persist with out-dated beliefs and absolute lies that we are not worthy, not loveable, not beautiful or any other denigrating view. An unfolding process, a work in progress for all of us – but it is a work worth progressing and living to the full.
No wonder then the Catholic Church fears such a woman, for it would be exposed as the sham and loveless institution that it is, with no resemblance to the true love of God. A love that knows men and women are equal; that being gay is not an ‘abomination’ but a natural expression and the love between two gay people is just as valid and deep as heterosexual people and ought to be honoured, respected and blessed in the commitment of marriage if it is so chosen; and that women have the right to have agency over their own body and their own lives with no need for guilt or shame should they choose to have an abortion for their own valid reasons. A love that loves and holds all equally so, no matter the story that be told.
Let us not allow more generations to pass where we as women remain submissive, subverting and subjugating our own needs, accepting abuse and loveless relationships and giving away our power to men out of a lack of love for ourselves. Let us own our own part in this dynamic and not sit waiting for men to change or to ‘get it’; we have to do our part and claim our true power, live and express from the innate stillness of love that lives within us all; for it might just be that when we claim our true deliciousness and preciousness, it allows men to claim their true tenderness and sensitivity and be the true gentle-men they innately are.
Now that’s a true win-win.
Addendum: If there is no true equality, then there is no true love – and is one reason why I say the institution of the Catholic church is loveless – as it is clear there is no equality in their all male hierarchical structure. This does NOT refer to the many loving and caring people who subscribe to the Catholic church and should not be read as such. I also fully respect the right of all to follow the religion of their choosing.