K C Bhanumathy

Bhanumathy Vasudevan

Sacred Cave for Women

Comprehending the Roots of Misogyny

Comprehending the Roots of Misogyny that feeds – Our lack of trust, confidence, courage and limits our faith in ourself

Misogyny comes from the Greek word-misogunia: from ‘misos’- the hatred and ‘gync’-woman. Unreasonable fear, hatred or contempt or/and antagonism for all that is considered- ‘feminine’. This takes on palpable forms in society in individual and social expressions in the form of taboos, should, should nots, rituals, mores, societal norms etc. This in turn gets internalised by both women and men in living life, all over the world and they become the subjects and channels for it to sustain and continue.

Misogyny is not only about women’s lives but also relates to the entire ‘Prakruthi’ (feminine principle of creation) – the creative force that manifests as nature’s forms in the cosmos and in the planet. In a microcosm, it is a woman’s body and life and in macrocosm, it is the body and life force of earth herself.

The problem today is while women are forging ahead in all fields, the social expressions of misogyny internalized over centuries by both men and women, limits them from believing in their full potentials and wholeness. It is not any more the misogynistic voice outside; it is the voice inside each woman- the judging, seducing voice and the chatter, trying to control her yearnings, being, her faith in herself.

At the planetary level, women’s lives and their basic nature is covered and camouflaged, when all forces in the planet are overriding on them. The covering of the needs is through mountains of ‘must, should, have to’ and so on. What is so hard to say is ‘ I need’. The deep strong roots of misogyny and the current cellular functioning make sure, deep down we do not just recognize what we need to sustain and take care of our organism.

What is happening to the planet and to women as a species? The whole organism shrinks to its minimum potential just to survive and believe all that happens is with good intentions. It had to be borne for the sake of harmony of the society she lives in. Misogyny’s strong roots start here in the organism and in the planet. It has become a disgusting matter that the woman’s body is a guilt and shame generator. Violence on these women is institutionalized and the whole society accepts it as a matter of fact. All this goes on in the name of modernity, tradition, mores, culture etc. What else you need but to look around for examples of deep-rooted misogyny?

There are mountains of unmet needs of human women as we look around the planet. The deep-rooted misogyny becomes blind to the situation and the rage inside builds from unmet needs. This rage has many forms- volcanoes, seething fire, lust that enjoys power over other bodies, silent cinders, river of fire and many other forms. It is just like the calm sea where in her depth lies the most potent fire. The rage in women is of similar nature. Misogyny gets fed and feeds through this rage.

There is urgent need of hard work of the nature of a bulldozer is needed by a critical mass of women. These misogynist roots are threat to human civilisation and the body of mother earth- the planet.

What are the strong roots of misogyny in women that had to be pulled out?

  1. The pervasive feeling in women – ‘I am not much, so I need to add someone to my life’ as it had been done for many centuries to become something significant – a mother, a daughter, a sister, daughter-in law and sister-in-law and so many other relationships.
  2. To a large extent marriage has become a trading and bartering of these bodies either by self-choice or other’s choice. The significance of the human body builds up in relation to the ‘other’. While it is true we are not isolated beings and are part of one related entity, it is also true that women’s bodies are not for market economy to be traded, controlled and decorated as a means of proclaiming power and wealth and many other such forms. All these go on simply without any problem in the name of marriage or partnership and commerce.
  3. The notion of ‘empty nothingness’ internalised over centuries is another strong root of misogyny. This enables the comatose part of the body to stay that way without taking responsibility for one self.
  4. Other strong and deep root of misogyny lies in the notion that is programmed at cellular level ‘my needs will be met by others; I have to just take care of them in return’. Asking and questioning is a taboo that brings serious repercussions.
  5. Next deeper root of misogyny we need to comprehend is the notion that is programmed ‘my significance as a woman is in my reproductive function’. The figurative and literal reproductive function is taken as a metaphor for women’s significance both inside of us and outside. How religions have played a strong role across the planet towards building up this, is evident to all of us. Due to our cellular programming, reproductive function of women is a choiceless choice today in the world. Creative potential of women beyond procreation in the light of Moon Mother in her moon body is limitless.

What is most valued in human history gets most abused and it holds true for the wombs of women. It is most valued and celebrated by society for its sustenance and at the same time most violently abused. While this is happening, it impacts the womb to shrink and go into hiding and become one of the strong roots of wide spread misogyny. Worldwide practices of dealing with women’s genitals as a means of control, power, sadism, hedonism, matter for gross outright abuse, a means to silence the being to go into living coma and many other such forms are known. There is no need for elaborating them here. Civilisations have ingeniously put in so many norms related to women’s genitals and wombs and they have become a public property and no more sacred and private property of the women. Given this history, many women in the prime of physical life perceive their wombs to be an impediment, dis-privilege and sometimes a curse. These perceptions come out of the ignorance about being a ‘cosmic being’ and looking at the womb in a mere physical plane.

The power of the possibility of altering such monolithic situations resides in the potential of our relationship with Moon Mother- Great mother of all, and our devotion to walk and live our purpose. The triangular practices (stillness practice, body work, & speaking the un-speakable) hold the enormous power of cutting the internalized deep-roots of misogyny for peace and harmonious living. At the plane where the Moon Mother is in relationship with our moon bodies through our practices, the possibilities of altering the situation are enormous and incomprehensible.

 It definitely seems impossible at the outset to change any of these, because one silent voice of young women brings in more abuse of power, violence and more wounds. It seems like an unending battle and an impossible situation. Misogynist civilisation has conditioned our cells not to ask and be satisfied with whatever comes our way. We have forgotten to ask ourselves what I need now for my evolution, peace and meaning. This is the root of seeking. Seeking comes from inquiry into ourselves and getting to know what we are yearning for, thirsting to drive away the emptiness, despair and find the freedom of the cellular wisdom to speak to us.

Tools for working with internalised misogyny will be shared next week. Please gather 1 more woman or two or three likeminded women, for doing the work. It can only be done in your inner-work sangha.

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