This is what three out of the five panelists told the crowd at a recent symposium I attended. The Divine Feminine is initiating a change in the world, they assured us, and She is bringing to bear a time when the spiritual voice of women will finally be heard.
Awesome, I thought. I like women. I feel more comfortable around them, generally. As a rule, I’d rather confide in a woman than a man. Women are mysterious and magical, and they often express those qualities without even trying. Their bodies are absolutely astounding, too, what with the whole life-making thing. My mind goes to mush when I start thinking about the ways in which women are amazing.
Plus, being in the presence of women gives me a completely different understanding of the fluidity and presentation of gender, and the experience of my own gender as a man. Women help me to understand what parts of my identity are more masculine, and what parts are actually quite feminine. Women seem to possess an ability to do both — to present the masculine and the feminine — with a kind of ease that is foreign to most men. I love that about them.
So, yeah – I’m good with women leading the way.
But then the thought occurred to me — what is the role for men in a world where the paradigm shifts towards the Divine Feminine? If humanity is, as these panelists would suggest, moving away from the patriarchal model, if we’re letting go of the “Father God” as the exclusive or primary representation of Deity, and this movement is part of our spiritual evolution as a species, what does that mean for men?
When I posed the question to the panelists, asking how they suggested men might place their experience of masculinity within a paradigm in which the primary, divine force is identified as feminine, they didn’t have a ready answer.
The Problem of Semantics
As much as I’m a proponent for the Divine Feminine becoming a central focus, I think there’s something problematic in the language we’re using to describe her. These words – Father, Mother, Masculine, Feminine – they speak to something human, some quality or experience of humanity. When we call our God or Goddess (both, gendered words) a “He” or a “She,” we’re making the Divine in our own image, if I might borrow some language from the Old Testament. This seems problematic to me. Isn’t ascribing gender to the Divine limiting, somehow? Gender is so often a rigid structure, and Divinity is not. At least, not in my experience.
For centuries, it’s been all about one, male God. The world belongs to Him. He is The Father. He is The Architect of all creation. He is, quite simply, The Man.
Men can work with that. Men have run with this idea of a male god because, quite honestly, it is easier to conceive of The Inconceivable if you can assign it a gender… *ahem*… your gender. If God is a man, and I am a man, than there must be something about my manhood that is similar to God’s manhood, the logic goes. I can understand something about God because of something I know about myself.
I heard this logic from the panelists, too, but from a different side of the gender binary. Women, the crowd was told, are innately more receptive to the Goddess because of their womanhood. The Goddess and womankind are a lot alike. That was the message.
What I don’t understand is how that message is in any way different than the message of the patriarchal religions. They sound the same to me. The genders have been swapped out, but the form and way of thinking is the same.
The Problem of Othering
Women are othered by the idea of a God whose gender is different than theirs. You are not like God, a man can say, because you are a woman. And men are othered as well when they are told that they are not like the Goddess because they are a man.
What I took away from the panelists was that they wanted women to take the power back. It was women’s time to have the power, to use the power, to be the guardians of the power. It was a power struggle, which is not revolutionary. Nor does it seem to this man to be reflective of anything Divinely Feminine. It seems kinds mannish, actually.
There’s nothing revolutionary about a woman wielding power in the same way that men always have. What might be revolutionary is the disassembly and deconstruction of the idea of power. Wouldn’t that be more feminine?
But therein lies the problem. We are attempting to conceive of the Divine Feminine, of this radically new — or, as many of you might suggest, unfathomably old — expression and experience of Divinity from within a patriarchal system. The paradigm has not yet shifted, but we’re trying to firm up our definitions and assign new rules to how this newuniverse behaves. We want to control it by defining it, a masculine act born of a patriarchal universe. We want to say who’s most like the Divine, and who’s less — also a holdover from the patriarchy.
The Age of the Goddess will not be ushered in with the tools, methods, and battle tactics of the God. Will it?
Sorting Through The Problems
I’m open to your thoughts on the matter. Are you a man who finds himself moving through a world where Women are King (so to speak)? Do you experience any conflict with how women talk about the Goddess, or any alienation or sense of being othered?
Or, if you’re a woman who experiences a kind of empowerment from using Goddess-language, can you imagine a way that men might reconcile this new experience of otherness?
Perhaps you have a perspective altogether different, and you’d like to offer it up. If so, please leave a comment here. I’m happy to hear from you.
Then, share this post with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or your social network of choice. The more voices, the more insight.