I was reading comments about how Deepak Chopra and the male host of a show dominated over Riane Eisler in an interview, and it brought up these thoughts I'll share as food for thought.
First, I wish I'd seen the interview. I love Riane and owe her so much! She's one of my first mentors, having written The Chalice and the Blade andThe Partnership Way, which drew me to this path and I've never left. I learned about partnership and perpetuate that idea often because of her early teachings. My book launch party on Saturday has a theme of "celebrating partnership" and it's a shame the interview went the way it was described.
Myself, I've have worked in several industries where I have had to supervise men. I'll mention two. The first was when I was a Convention Coordinator for a large hotel chain in New Orleans. I actually was responsible for making sure a hotel with more than 10,000 sq ft of meeting space was turned over 3-4 times a day 7 days a week. Our "crew" was a dozen African American men. Me, a white woman, received more respect and enjoyed a team camaraderie with these men - more so than the white men in the administrative office. In fact the other supervisors couldn't understand their loyalty and our team work. They didn't get it was mutual respect, cooperation, partnership. Maybe I instinctively treated these African American men better than the white men they usually answered to here in the South and treated them like people. We developed a sense of pride in our work together and a team spirit. With the white men you had to hold your ground, stand up to them or some, not all, were more likely to steamroll you, overlook you, demean you. However, what was the most frustrating was the superior and entitled attitudes of the management (women and men) brought in from Colorado. They treated all the local management as if we were all stupid - both men and women, even though we had experience running convention hotels and not small boutique hotels like they had previously run. The Food and Beverage Manager - an older woman - treated me worse than any man in the hotel. All these years later I still shudder at the emotion - the tears - that woman provoked in me!
In California I manage property where I have to supervise a lot of white men and men of other cultures as well, a few of which would probably rather have me barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen and despise having to take orders from a woman. I find again you have to stand up, hold your own, speak up. The rules of etiquette I learned in the South when I was growing up - be nice, don't make waves, defer, conform, well, they just don't get the job done. Sure I sometimes get called a bitch or a ball buster behind my back. Once to my face a Telephone Company employee screwing up on the job told me I needed "a good f--k" and maybe then I would shut up - translation: not tell him to do a better job. (Interestingly the phone company send out a representative to make a personal apology to me.)
Of course I get tired of the struggle. Always having to be assertive to be able to do your job effectively - because the buck stops with me. Some men still lack awareness of sexism and white male privilege - because its their normal and they benefit from it. My boss even had to be schooled. But again, here in CA, unlike in the South, I've experienced just as many women dominators as any men in my life - their methods are just a little more insidious. So while I certainly am aware of male privilege, patriarchy, domination - let's not kid ourselves that men are the only ones doing it. Both genders participate. Women have learned well from their male oppressors and engage in what I call patriarchy in a skirt. If I had to tally it up, I've had to endure more bad women than men.
I've read how feminist, Phyllis Chesler, (Woman's Inhumanity to Woman) got a lot of heat for bringing this up - I have her in my upcoming anthology, Voices of the Sacred Feminine: Conversation to ReShape Our World, and I've interviewed her on my radio show, Voices of the Sacred Feminine Radio on Blog Talk. I sincerely hope I don't get flack for saying this. I won't engage if it happens. I've got too much to do. But we have to face the elephant in the living room if we women are going to lead the charge to change the world. We have to figure out how to stop being jealous, petty, competitive and put our collective energy into dissolving the patriarchy. We need to put our personal slights aside and stand in solidarity and partnership. We have empower one another - be that lobster climbing out of the pot that turns around and helps the others out rather than be the one pulling the escapee back down into the boiling water. And women have to take the mantle of leadership and be assertive and not expect it to be handed to us.
Yes, the answer is partnership. It's mutual respect. It's fairness. It's justice. It's not competition, sexism, classism or racism. Among women and men. We have to try to empower one another as women and not have a scarcity attitude there's only so many pieces of pie so we keep fighting for the scraps among ourselves. I know I'm probably being politically incorrect here, but seems important to say. My Sekhmet heart demands it.
Love to you all,