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Honouring the Feminine

December 6 is recognized as a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada. Although men are victims of violence, statistics indicate that half of Canadian women have survived at least one incident of sexual or physical violence and 29% of Canadian women have been assaulted by a spouse. What might be the underlying cause?

For psychological development to occur, boys need to psychically separate from their first or primal relationship, the one with their mothers. This break results in both a splitting and liberation of the masculine from the feminine. As with any splitting, the quality abandoned does not go away, and in this case, much of the feminine is exiled into the unconscious.

Girls also undergo a similar psychic split necessary for their psychologically development. Girls need to psychically separate from their fathers, resulting in the repression of some masculine qualities into their unconscious. 

As with any pair of human traits, problems occur when there are imbalances. For women, and in some cases men, the imbalance manifests as being too reliant upon relatedness and caregiving for others, as martyrdom, and as a lack of taking action. We become ample talkers of feelings and ideas, yet rarely get anything done. 

Men, and in many cases women, who have separated from their feminine side have difficulty feeling empathy for others, nature and themselves. There has been a retreat into order, ruling and the importance of knowing. There is a devaluing of feelings, intuition and nature. The result is a lack of relatedness with self, others and the environment. We become emotionally detached thinkers and doers.

As with any repressed material, the ego becomes anxious, even fearful of the repressed feminine qualities such as relatedness and the expression of feelings. Ironically, many men unconsciously control the feminine out of fear of the very thing they deeply yearn for – both inner and outer relatedness. 

Control of the feminine is apparent in physical and sexual abuse. More subtle control occurs with put-downs, making light of or rationalizing hurtful behaviour, intimidation, blaming, financial control and not including the woman in making decisions. 

Collectively, we see communities and nature ruined with decisions based primarily upon logic and economics without considering the overall impact on the environment. We see the devaluing of women and girls through abuse, inequity in pay, and lack of social support for (abused) women. 

We often hear about Mother Nature’s fury when tsunamis, earthquakes and forceful weather systems happen. Although destructive, the rage is justifiable. As with violence against women, the anger is about the unfair treatment of the feminine, this time against Gaia, Mother Earth herself.   

On both individual and collective levels, masculine and feminine imbalances need to be addressed. Patriarchal control can be equalized by integrating feminine principles such as acknowledging feelings and taking an interconnectedness and holistic outlook. This honouring back of the feminine into both male and female psyches will enhance our relatedness with others, the environment and ourselves. 

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Diane Hancox, MA, CCC provides counselling services to Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Nanaimo and Vancouver Island.