LIKE A BACKPACK FULL OF STONES

LIKE A BACKPACK FULL OF STONES 454192619_d1

 “Nobody minds if a woman is a good writer, sculptor, or expert in genetics, as long as she is also a good wife, a good mother, attractive, is always in a good mood, well dressed, made up, and never complains.” Marya Mannes

Many of us can afford the luxury of longing for independence, individuality, and authenticity now. However, in many parts of the planet, we still struggle fiercely for freedom of expression, equality, religious tolerance, and other ways of expressing ourselves. Even in countries that promote and defend civil rights, matters of Consciousness are entirely subjected to appearances. An individual believes itself free if it has goods and privileges, and can “do” what it wants in the illusory privacy of home. Inwardly, the same beliefs and habitual patterns of thinking and feeling of the middle ages still reign, and an inexplicable dissatisfaction brews.

We might ask ourselves, what is it that women want if we already vote and have access to the same professions and civil rights as men do? Is this a female matter?

It is neither a female nor a male matter. All of us are handicapped by beliefs imposed on us from millennia. Dead weight, they are like stones in a backpack that we carry uphill. They don’t allow us to feel free to discover or express our authentic self. We automatically adhere to formulas that require adaptation and simulation. Each gender must fit into the expectations that erupt from a deep programming of social convenience.

Beliefs, like impressions, are carved into our mind and bodies with a very special vocabulary, made to order according to culture, ego, or neurosis. They are subtle, and the thoughts that sprout henceforth are as habitual as they seem natural. Especially in difficult situations, they speak with our own voice accusing, challenging, and making us guilty for not being one way or another. Regardless of how much we deny it, they increase inner pressure and impotence. We must resign ourselves to “appearing” instead of genuinely “being”.

In our “Feminine Mysteries” studies we have gathered a list of beliefs and some derivatives that concern women. The curious thing about beliefs is that when they emerge to the surface they acquire a personal context and a capacity to thwart our authenticity. This was the way they impressed themselves upon our psyche. Sometimes they adopt the voice of our mother, father, schoolteacher, or partner. They are so deeply embedded in us that we don’t even notice their intrusion. However, once we identify the hurtful phrases that we use on ourselves, we are able to transform the belief by altering the energy that conditioned and sustains it in the present. For this to happen we must come to grips with the full, energetic, emotional force encapsulated in the experience. It involves a sublimation practice within Inner Alchemy, an indispensable tool for the woman who, made to feel guilty and ridiculed for her sensitivity and natural form of intelligence, long ago forgot what she really is.

  

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Regardless of how educated, emancipated, liberal or Western a woman is, if she has the courage to delve deeply and behind her justifications, desires and tastes, in other words her “excuses” and the resonance of wishful thinking, she will discover that the foundation that sustains her identity today is not as solid as she thought. The stones in her backpack group themselves around a singular multifaceted cornerstone, deeply buried and carried over centuries:

 

Woman pertains to a gender of inferior characteristics, originally resembling a domesticated animal of poor intelligence, coarse, ignorant, dispensable and apportioned to a male bidder. To win a place in the world she must apply herself and learn to be whatever is necessary: invisible, desirable, appropriately modest or exotic, basically humble, controllable, silent, sweet, maternal and spiritual.

 

In reading this, we might say that it is not so, but the social belief of belonging to an inferior gender brought with it the loss of human rights, exemplified today in different religions or societies as a lifestyle close to slavery. At times this is demonstrated by using women as currency (dowry), “seeing to her protection and sustenance” (finding her a ‘good’ husband), or by alluding to her as “pillar of the family” (euphemism for housewife dedicated to having children, obeying and serving her spouse). Yet at other times this is backed by religious belief (because God says so), prevented from a proper education, choice of partner, freedom of thought or expression, or any other life option.

Even if we believe that we live in modern societies that have overcome these prejudices, we might look again to discover that this continues to manifest subliminally. A woman may be intelligent and well cultured, successful and professional, but at home with her partner she is faced with the same fears derived from the age-old belief. Her resistance to being used, domesticated and controlled is as intense as is the inner mandate to be obedient and adaptable to rules and conditions of servitude.

Many women convince themselves that it is not from emotional need but from choice that they elect to please others, be useful (serve), or wear tight jeans, low cut necklines and sexy clothing. Meanwhile we reinforce a notion that our bodies are built for pleasure (‘what else is there’?), be it our own or someone else’s. “We deserve it”. In searching to break molds some women adopt the psyche of a super-man. Substitution amounts to manifesting the shadow of that which one pretends to do away with.

The characteristics, definitions and consequences of considering the female gender “mysterious” and therefore different to that which is acceptable, are multiple. Thanks to the collaboration of European and Latin American women in our intensive study groups of “Feminine Mysteries”, we hereby list some of the principal beliefs. My gratitude to Vivians González, Nausicaa A. Otero and Amalia d’Ascenzo in the initial gathering of information, and to Aurora Duarte and Sandra de la Rosa for the final integration.

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BELIEFS

1.  Woman is animal-like: irrational, primitive, and useless for anything other than to satisfy the will of others.

 a.  Associated Beliefs:

Emmanuel Kant alluded to “the natural superiority of male over female faculties.”

Beyond any rational argument, a woman feels she has no value and that when she is no longer useful she will be discarded.

There is a worldwide habit of using animal names when referring to a woman: foxy (shrewd, sexy), serpent (poisonous, devious), cow (fat, complacent), bitch (in heat or angry), lioness (strong), catty (gossipy), tigress (seductive), parrot (talkative), birdbrain (limited intelligence), cockteaser (sexually provocative), hellcat (spiteful), minx (a hussy), “poule” (promiscuous), shrew (bad tempered), troll (harlot). There is a much longer list of unattractive names, most of which refer to the sexual organ and function of a woman as perceived by men.

b.  Limiting Subliminal Thoughts:

º (When we do something well:) “It’s not a big deal! “I don’t really deserve this!”

º “I don’t have a right to say NO or make any claims.” (especially in relation to men)

º “I’m a fraud!”

º “It doesn’t matter how well I do something, it is never enough.”

 

 2.  Woman is mentally deficient, silly, ignorant, incapable, hollow, and superficial.  If she is intelligent and capable, she has to prove her worth and what she knows.  She must struggle to make a place for herself and then be able to defend it (tooth and nail). 

Men must make allowances for their weaknesses but women must compensate for their capacities.

a.  Associated Beliefs:

 Nietzche. “It is true that women are profound, to such a degree that there is nothing inside of them.”

Blondes are stupid.

When there is a bad driver on the road, a usual comment is, “It must be a woman driver!” In other occasions, “It had to be a woman!”

Women only think of clothing and gossip.

b.  Limiting Subliminal Thoughts:

º “I don`t understand technical things; that’s a man’s domain.”

º “I’m useless at this!”

º “I must make double effort (than a man) to get it done… but I do it!”

º “I need a man to help me decide (or “to show me the way”, as in the male-teacher/guru syndrome).”

º “I’m incapable of generating resources; I’m a failure; I need someone to take care of me (economically).”

º “If I’m too intelligent and capable, men are going to be afraid of me.”

º “No man will want to be with me if I am successful.” “They will say I’m a ‘ball buster’!”

º “I must think like they do (raise myself to their standards); use my head instead of my feelings.”

 

  1. A woman is primitive and lacks control over her emotions, she is hysterical, crazy, imbalanced, and problematic:

 a.  Associated Beliefs:

Feminine hysteria was an illness diagnosed until mid Nineteenth Century, with symptoms that included fainting, insomnia, breathing difficulties, irritability, strong headaches, loss of appetite, and ‘a tendency to cause problems’.

When a woman is overly emotional (according to men), it is commonly said, “She must have her period!”

 A woman must tolerate everything, be strong but not show her feelings. Otherwise she is crazy or hysterical. Everyone expects her to lose control.

 b.  Limiting Subliminal Thoughts:

º “I’m a cry baby!” “I cry all the time over anything!”

º “I’m unstable and changeable.” “I don’t know what to do!”

º “I don’t know what I want.”

º “I can’t show what I really feel”. Or, “I don’t know what I feel!”

º “Nobody can tell me what I have to do!”

º (challenging) “I can take care of myself and my children all by myself!”

 

  1. A woman’s role is to procreate and look after the family (be at home).

 a.  Associated Beliefs:

“Woman has been created to be a man’s helpmate, but only in procreation… because for anything else a man should seek the help of another man instead of that of a woman.”… And, “The father should be more beloved than the mother, because he is the active principle for procreation, while the mother is only the passive principle.” Saint Thomas

 A good mother and wife raises children and looks after the husband.

A good woman never thinks of herself.

 A woman must sacrifice everything and forget her dreams. That is love.

 What is a woman good for if it isn’t to raise children and take care of her man?

b.  Limiting Subliminal Thoughts:

º “Family is everything.”

º “To be important, I must have a husband (a partner or a label, a function), children (an occupation) who need me, and a home (her own space).”

º “My needs are not important.” Or, “I am not important.”

º (If she is unmarried:) “I’m going to be an old maid!”

º “Who is going to love me when I am old and no longer useful?”

 

 5.  The duties of a woman are: to be submissive and obedient, to be faithful and loyal (a ‘property’) – housekeeper, maid, care for the elderly, set aside personal ambitions in order to be supportive (in a relationship), willing to respond sexually when called for, or when it is needed to ‘relax’ him.

a.  Associated Beliefs:poyas_00

“Man was created in the image of God, but woman, forthcoming from Adam’s rib, is made in the image of man. This being so, she must submit to him.” Saint Paul

The ideal woman is a lady in the marketplace and a prostitute in bed.   Her obligation is with the family. She must fulfil the expectations of others (parents, partner, society).

A woman is worthless if she is incapable of having a man who stands by her (and who ‘represents’ her).

A successful professional woman is selfish, masculine and aggressive.

Male children are more important that females; they perpetuate the family name.

Being alone is equivalent to being doomed to solitude.

Sex cures everything.

b.  Limiting Subliminal Thoughts:

º “I must put up with everything, just as my mother did.”

º “Men are like children; we must pamper them and see that they behave.”

º “I must take care of him or he will leave me.”

º “He/she makes me feel good… finds me pretty… makes me feel safe…”

º “If I am not in a relationship I am not ‘normal’.” “I’m weird.”

º “I have to fake my orgasms!”

 

6.  A woman lacks valid opinions. 

a. Associated Beliefs:

To reach somewhere, a woman must manipulate, seduce, confuse, appeal to the emotions, make herself indispensable, conquer (enslave) sexually, or in other ways. 

b.  Limiting Subliminal Thoughts:

º “Nobody listens to me because I am a woman.”

º “Who am I to say anything?” “I just listen and don’t call attention to myself.”

º “If I express myself, I am a bitch, a hysteric, or I need sex.”

º “I have to take advantage of my charms (body, breasts, face..) to make myself heard.” (to be seen or recognised)

  

7. A woman is weak and defenceless.

a.  Associated Beliefs: 

The world is hostile and dangerous. A woman cannot survive on her own. She is weak and needs the protection of men (father, brothers, etc.).

If a woman is alone it is because she is unworthy (has a defect).

To be sensitive is to be weak.

Feminine protection comes at a price.

b.  Limiting Subliminal Thoughts:

º “I can’t survive (financially) on my own!”

º “I must accept the first man who loves me and gives me attention, in case nobody else comes along. I don’t want to be alone!”

º “I feel incomplete without a man (a relationship).”

 

8.  A woman has dark, evil powers. She is a witch, evil, manipulative, dangerous, dirty, sinful, sinister, and cursed.

 a. Associated Beliefs:

Socrates said, “Beware of a woman’s love more than the hatred of a man.”

Pythagoras. “There is a principle of goodness that has created order, light, and man, and a principle of evil that has created chaos, shadows, and woman.”

It is still believed that the apple and original sin were Eve’s fault.

A woman is always considered something of a witch. Feminine intuition is not trustworthy, it is a product of a fertile imagination, or the result of (sexual) frustration.

The menstrual cycle is dirty and a curse. 

b. Limiting Subliminal Thoughts:  

    º “I am capable of anything, even killing!”

    º “I’m a wicked creature.”

    º If I want to be believed, I have to say things in a way that it will be accepted (believed or understood).”

 

9.  A woman is a sexual object.

a.  Associated Beliefs

A woman is both a virgin and a prostitute. A man needs her to be both, one public, the other for his private use.

When a woman looks for the privacy of her inner world, she has two options: to hide (in olden times, in a convent), or to make herself ugly deliberately.

A woman’s body does not belong to her. It only serves to satisfy another’s desires. When she is beautiful and attractive, her intelligence is secondary.

 Women often feel shame for being (or not being) attractive, for having big or small breasts, for being round and chubby, or too thin, for dressing provocatively or too simply. Her esteem and self-worth depend on visual effects and on the opinion of others (including other women who repeat the same pattern amongst themselves).

b.  Limiting Subliminal Thoughts:

º “All men are the same, they want the same thing.”

º “It’s important to be attractive (even if I am not interested).

º “I’ve got to dress for the occasion (show off my figure).”

º “I’m fat and everything droops; I can’t show myself naked to any man (or anyone).”

º “Now that I’m past my 40’s, I’m on the decline.”

º “I have to look fashionable so that I blend in/am respected.” (It may be to wear makeup or none, to wear jeans and look ragged, or to wear high heels and a tailored suit…)

º “I can’t stand out too much, or other women will envy me!”

º “What are they (just about anyone ‘out there’…) going to think/say!”

  

10.  Generic condition of women: Woman is a distraction, a bother, and the cause of everything that is wrong.

a. Associated Beliefs:

 Woman has the ability to interrupt men by her mere presence. Or she uses it to her advantage, or she removes herself. Both ways, it always provokes discomfort and misunderstanding.

A woman is seen to be maniacal, never on time, and disorganised.

Women judge one another severely because they know what they are capable of, and see one another transparently. Any woman is a rival.

A beautiful woman’s image can cause a traffic accident.

In divorce or separation, it is always the woman’s fault.

  b. Limiting Subliminal Thoughts:

         º “My life would have been easier if I had been a man.”

         º “I don’t want to have daughters, only sons.”

         º “I can’t do anything right.”

         º “Better to do nothing.”

 

Conclusion 

Our conscious thoughts are one thing and our subliminal feelings are another. More than the thoughts themselves, ingrained feelings create an obstacle to energetic flow. They prevent us from being true to ourselves and condition us into patterns of adaptation and justification. To correct our reactions and to dissolve those invisible shadows that attack our viscera and create knots in the belly when we least expect it, we have to find the exact words that are impressed upon our body-mind as fears and impulses, subconscious anguish and demand. They trigger an implacable chain reaction of self-criticism. This is the moment we should apply the formulas given in Inner Alchemy.

The same impotence and insecurity of centuries brews within the contemporary woman, only now hidden behind a competitive and demanding posture. It emerges when we are exhausted, in borderline circumstances, and in trivial situations. “I need a man to move this chest of drawers!” “I can’t do it by myself.” Without being any kind of feminist, a woman easily recalls many instances, buying a house, building or concluding a business deal, or even passing an examination, where she thinks: “If I were a man I would be treated differently.”

Beliefs, accompanied by personal subliminal thoughts such as the ones that appear in this text are spectres that roam our minds unrecognisably and affect our daily experience. Constant judgment and comparison to male models continues, including in the spiritual domain.

But beware! The fact that the beliefs that inhibit women have been formulated in a masculine cycle by men (the reining power), does not mean that everything has to do with them. For a woman, man evokes authority, security and social approval. They are automatically an important parameter of self-definition and aspiration, reflecting the bodily and mental sense of inferiority that we ourselves reinforce. We even condemn our intuition and connection with (what for men are) incomprehensible levels of reality. And, what is not forthcoming from the men comes from women themselves.

Young women who are yet exploring their sexuality with a certain degree of rebelliousness today, cannot see that their dependence is necessarily with men. It could be another woman. Many times a woman dresses more to please women rather than men. We acutely feel the regard of other women within ourselves. In any case the system perpetuates itself. Women compete with one another without realising it. We adapt to old demands ignoring the foundation and camouflaging appearances. Under other names we continue doing and responding in familiar ways.

Women’s slavery to appearance has its roots in religion, social expectation, and the style of the times. That which is considered a natural characteristic in women, including by herself, that eternal instability and inner insecurity, defines the reaction to antiquated labels. Sensibility and non-linear forms of intelligence and perception, or perfection as a latent potential, things that relate to a feminine cycle and the essence of womanhood, had not been revealed or cultivated up to now.

The real feminine lies deeply within each woman as an unformed quality that a woman moulds according to her talents, faculties and inclinations, once liberated from foreign control. The first step for a woman, as for the men with whom she shares common life, is to recognise the need for deep introspection as something imminent and necessary. As woman is reborn in her authenticity, so are men and society reborn. A new reality awaits us, free from backpacks of any kind.

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