Monday, May 21, 2018
Responding To Cultural Misogyny
written 2 February, 2018
I recently saw two wonderful movies, The Battle of The Sexes and The Post. Both films portray events in 1973. Battle, with Emma Stone and Steve Carell, depicts the exhibition tennis match between Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs. The Post, referring to The Washington Post newspaper, starring Meryl Streep as publisher Katherine Graham and Tom Hanks as editor Ben Bradlee, is about publication of the Pentagon Papers. I streamed Battle, and was delighted to see The Post in Ukiah. Regal cinema seems to favor movies that keep the public frightened and distracted, rarely showing more thought provoking films.
Misogyny is a fact in our culture, and both films show a feminine challenge. Battle directly addresses misogyny in the form of unequal pay for women, and the idea that a woman couldn't compete with a man in sports. The Post is primarily a story of freedom of the press in holding our government accountable, but the subplot recognizes the particular challenge of a woman facing down not only the president of the United States, but an all male board of directors.
The democratic principle that all citizens are equal under the law, and have a say in government, is a non-dual understanding. When America was formed, this was a radical idea, considered utopian and unrealistic. The first citizens were exclusively white male landowners, but quickly changed to include all free white males. The struggle to include women and people of color continues to this day. In this effort, Trump may be an asset. His unapologetic racism and misogyny have stimulated a political will, much like a festering splinter that is finally expelled, so that healing can begin. The Women's March was exciting and lifted the spirit for a day. Political mobilization is encouraging women to activism, working in campaigns, running for office, and getting elected.
Politics is the outward expression of change, but an important internal change is also happening. Transgender issues and gay and lesbian rights have updated the definitions of what makes a man or a woman. Compassionate men and strong women show that we all have the best qualities of each sex, and the foundation of sexist separation is weakening.
There are many ideas about how this separation arose. As divine consciousness intersected with material space/time, it got distracted and captured, like surface tension or static cling, always looking outward at the infinite variety of differentiated material form. There is evidence that the sense of self as separate from the world, arose about 3500 years ago, encompassing most of recorded history. This was when alphabetic literacy began. Being symbolic, it is processed by the left brain which perceives differences. The power of writing gave undue focus on differences, as opposed to the right brain perspective of synthesis and holism. Civilizations became based on domination and misogyny, which lead to the degradation of the natural world, or Mother Nature. We have now reached the point where human existence is threatened.
About 2500 years ago, the awareness of deep connection transcending the self was introduced by Buddha and Lao Tzu, and later by Christ and mystics from all religions. Technological developments in the last 150 years (photography, radio, TV, and the Internet) have allowed widespread transmission of information processed by the right side of the brain, helping to change the illusion of absolute separation between self and other. Increased awareness of environmental issues, civil rights, and gender equality all over the world are further indications that a shift is happening.
Each of us have the obligation and possibility to transcend the illusion of separation to heal the whole world. I am currently working my way through the text of A Course In Miracles, and recently read a section suggesting that the Biblical exhortation to praise God, doesn't mean telling God what a good job is being done; God already knows that. Real praise is to love every person, recognizing them as expressions of the Divine, as are we all. Racism and misogyny are denial of that divine connection, and even if wrapped in religious scripture, are an insult to the Divine. We can all play a part in changing the world by changing our own awareness.