At the same time, I sometimes wince when I see those pictures of men in “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like,” t-shirts. It's similar to the kind of wince I get from people who pray loudly and publicly to display their religious devotion. The intention may very well be good in that person's mind, but there's a similarly smug expression of self-satisfaction in both cases that kind of broadcasts the point that is, perhaps, being missed. Nobody wants to be “that guy,” in any context.
At an even more fundamental level, however, it is problematic, for me to be talking about the “Divine Feminine” represented by Inheritance because it's problematic for *anybody* to talk about terms like “Feminine” and “Masculine.” these words are shorthand; two huge clouds of constantly shifting, often overlapping, sometimes indefinable groups of traits and ideas, that have been condensed into a tiny group of letters whose meaning can become entirely contradictory or fractal depending on context, or even the tone of voice, in which they're spoken.
As in so many things, we have to work within the binary operating system of language to describe and approach the quantum nature of reality. That creates problems of its own in any situation, but perhaps nowhere more than discussions of gender, which have already been put through the binary ringer, so to speak, by the very structures this project seeks, in part, to dismantle.
More specifically, it's problematic for me, as a cis gender, male-identified, ultra-privileged humanshaped creature, to talk about the subject, because as much as I talk about identifying with that Divine Feminine, and embodying it, there are aspects of it that I cannot know in the most visceral sense. The act of carrying and birthing a child is a massive and beautiful and terrifying and utterly unknowable experience, for a cis gender man. Likewise, the onset, cycle, and eventual end of menstruation is something that humans in my particular physical configuration cannot literally experience. That said, it is worth remembering that there are many biologically female women who do not experience birth or menstruation, either, and that does not invalidate their connection to that greater archetype.
Beyond all of that biology, however, it is maybe most importantly the *absence* of the privilege that I experience as a man in this society is the one thing that I can truly never experience.
I will never know what it's like to have to walk 3 blocks out of my way to get to work or not go running alone at night out of fear that women (*or* men) will sexually assault me or verbally threaten me with sexual assault.
If a woman I'm not interested in *does* sexually proposition me, I have the privilege ... see that? PRIVILEGE ... of choosing to say no politely or laughing it off because I know the likelihood of her pressing the moment into a place of intimidation, much less attempting to actually assault me, is pretty much nil. If she does, people are unlikely to react with "Well what were you wearing?" or "You were kind of leading her on."
If I post something that people don't agree with online, I don't have to be worried that my inbox will be flooded with rape threats.
And those are only some of the most dramatic examples. In a million smaller ways, I cannot know what it is like to experience the kind of harassment, the minimizing, the policing, the aggregate microagressions, the inequity that women have to go through every day. Nor have I ever had to learn or engage in the intricate, maddening dance of bargaining and avoidance that they are taught from childhood will theoretically allow them to “acceptably” dodge those things and hold on to some small amount of agency.
And, while men also experience violence, intimidation, humiliation and, sometimes, violation in this culture, the way of compassion is not to equate the situational discomfort you might experience in your place of privilege with the systemic denigration and oppression faced by women; it’s most certainly not to say “Well it's tough all around, suck it up.” Instead, one must strive to understand the overlapping dysfunction that is at the root of all of that.
Furthermore, the reservation of space that is created and led solely by and for women is vitally important, under the damaged cultural paradigm we currently operate within. Nobody wants to be the proverbial neckbeard that comes barging into the conversation waving his fedora around (or is it a trilby? I can’t keep track anymore) to explain what a great and enlightened guy *they* are and asking to be permitted to play “Devil's Advocate” on the difficulties of men in this society every time women try to share their experiences and feelings about sexism and Patriarchy. As in all cases where one is attempting to be an ally to people of a group that one is afforded a high degree of privilege in relation to, male *ears* are still needed even more in the Feminist movement , and should still be regularly exercised. As a man, one might be invited into this kind of space as a guest, or even as a partner, but that's an honor that has to be earned and respected by its recipient; you don't get to just pull a seat up to that table by virtue of the fact that you have an opinion on the subject at hand.
Because, most importantly, to connect and identify with the Feminine, as a man, you *don't* need to come barging into the havens that women have set aside for themselves, waving your aforementioned fedora around. That's the whole point. The Feminine exists within you, it is intrinsic to you, and you have to be willing to sit with it and interact with it and nurture it, on your own, in yourself, for your own sake.
So, with all of that very much in mind, I am exceptionally honored to be asked to write about this subject by a group of people that I look up to as much as the members of Sinner Saint.
But I wasn't always in this place. It's important to make that statement. I was popped out into the world created by the privilege of my biological gender, and, even if that never felt entirely comfortable to me, I slogged through a lot of that damage and dysfunction in my journey to where I am. I hurt people, in subtle and unsubtle ways. And I took it upon myself to do the work – and it is work, as rewarding as it ultimately is to be someone who wasn't like that anymore.
Because Feminism isn't something to pursue as a badge of “nice guy” honor. You don't do it to get a fucking cookie. You don't do it to get laid. The process of deprogramming the damaged circuitry we are handed by default as men in this culture is hard, sometimes frustrating, sometimes painful work, but It isn't even something that one struggles for or believes in and as some sort of special self-sacrifice or self-denial.
You do it for yourself.
To be a Feminist is, to my mind, deeply in the long term and sustainable self-interest of all people in this world who wish to live as whole, functional, liberated, reasonable, and compassionate human beings.
I identify as a Feminist for many reasons, and ranking high among them is that I believe that a large chunk of the broken space in our world can be followed back to the fundamentally dysfunctional ideas of gender and gender relations that we have attached so much of our human culture to. This category of attitudes and actions that we shorthand as Patriarchy is limiting, damaging, and unsustainable on multiple levels, for all genders.
In the simplest terms I know how to describe it, Patriarchy is the social and spiritual force which privileges a very specific definition of Masculinity above all other elements of the Human creature, that attempts to force all of those other elements to exist *in relation* to its vision of Masculinity, rather than as subjectively valuable aspects in their own right.
Feminism is not monolithic, but I have come to believe wholeheartedly that the ethos, critiques, and modes of resistance that we generally shorthand as Feminism are our best hope of repairing and evolving beyond that dysfunction and damage propagated by Patriarchy.
And what I’m here to tell you, the Man who may be reading this, is that this Inheritance is also for you, exactly as it is – and you have been robbed of it. You’ve been written out of the will. You’ve been put in an iron mask and locked in a dungeon, never to know your birthright, your true lineage. And you can call the social force that robbed you of that Patriarchy or a whole host of other names, but one thing for damn sure is that it wasn't Feminism that did the robbing. Feminism is desperately attempting to smuggle a lock-pick into your cell, if you are only willing to accept it.
The great tragedy of Patriarchy's “standard issue maleness” is that it locks you in a box. The feminine aspect of yourself is caged, dungeoned up, denied even a theoretical existence, except as the butt of a joke. To be acknowledged as a “real man” in our system is to keep an entire hemisphere of your human soul constantly in darkness, and, in doing so, to push the rotation of your planetary axis through ever more terrifying perversions of geometry to ensure that hemisphere never turns its face to the sun.
The Feminine, as an Acceptable Man, must forever be reviled, denigrated, and dominated, or, in equally disastrously, yet more seemingly benign ways, it must be pedestalled, archetyped, madonna-whored into the oblivion of its subjective truth. But, no matter the methodology, it must always, ALWAYS, be externalized. Made Other.
We see the results of this constantly, in the blatant horrors of physical and sexual abuse that spring forth from a sociopathic inability to feel any sort of compassion or identification with Women, or Men who are tagged as insufficiently Masculine – those ultimate Objectifications, in the harshest sense of that word, where a human is reduced to a thing, a thou to an it.
But this also finds expression in the subtler and more insidious dysfunction of that one place where we are trained and expected and *allowed* by our culture to find the most communion between the Masculine and Feminine – Romantic Love.
Here we find Men who have never been allowed to even acknowledge, much less foster and love, the beautiful, exuberant, explosive, gentle, and fierce Maidens, Mothers, Crones, and all the other facets of the Divine Feminine within themselves, and, instead, externalize that missing place, that chasm in their soul, and project it onto anyone who’ll give them the time of day, desperately spending their lives trying to get their hands around it, trying to find that missing part.
Women are made into some sort of mythical “Other Half,” that they are destined to find, who will magically complete the hobbled, broken person that they are. This leads to Men interacting with people that they find attractive as concepts or archetypes, rather than complete and multifaceted human beings with an internal life of their own who are not here on Earth to fill in their broken places.
And if, miraculously, they do manage to become involved with a woman who resembles this mythical missing piece, then, more often than not, they are fairly immediately overwhelmed, terrified, challenged to the breaking point by this person’s mere existence by them simply being what attracted the Man in the first place.
The closer she resembles their hidden hemisphere, the more intense this revulsion, this need for control. Because they’ve never fostered that love for Her in themselves. They’ve never even looked Her full in the face, save for furtive and shameful glances, so how can they ever truly love this other person who resembles her? How can they love anyone? They will seek to lock her in the same dungeon where they keep that Feminine in themselves, and set the broken Dragon of their desperate and dysfunctional masculinity on guard at the door. They will denigrate, distrust, disregard, and ultimately come to despise Her, in the same way they have done this to their own secret feminine hemisphere.
Which is why it’s not enough to “worship” the Goddess, or the Feminine Aspect of Humanity, in whatever guise we’re talking about one must actually *identify* with that. Worship is a powerful and important practice, but without identification it becomes, perhaps, the ultimate form of Othering something or someone – making it utterly externalized, perfect, unattainable, untouchable. To truly become a whole person, to truly claim your part in this Inheritance, you have to recognize that Divine Feminine aspect in yourself, whoever you are. See her, name her, talk to her, listen to her, love her, or you are never going to be truly capable of either offering your love to or accepting the love of anyone else. You will never be whole unless that wholeness comes from within.
We have, all of us, as a species, been robbed. Robbed by Patriarchy; robbed of wholeness, completion, joy; robbed of half the fucking inner planet that our individual consciousness calls home.
And the great and heartbreaking irony of it all is that the Masculinity that Patriarchy offers if one turns their back on that completeness, is absolutely no better or safer or more truly powerful in any way – what it offers is a shadow masculinity of brutality, willful ignorance, and possessive scrambling, a broken and toxic creature that has usurped the signifier of Masculinity, and has been allowed to put all of humanity under its heel.
So please understand, Men who may be reading this, that one of the greatest gifts that I have been given by Feminism has not only been the freedom to embrace my own Feminine aspect, but it has been to liberate my healthy, functional, and loving Masculine aspect from the chains of that shadow.
Because, far from the man-hating it is painted as in the popular imagination of the lowest-
common denominator, Feminism has taught me that, as a man, I am *not*, by some sort of gender-essential default, a monster, a buffoon, or a rapist.
Because Feminism has taught me that my actions are mine to own and understand and improve, and not the result of some chemical fundamentalism or warped masculine birthright that I can blame them on or justify them with.
Because Feminism has taught me that communication, respect, friendship, compassion, FOR THEIR OWN SAKE, without expectation, without obligation, without desperation, without some twisted and toxic sense of economy and ownership, leads to meaningful communion of a vast and heart-exploding variety intellectual, spiritual, and yes, sometimes physical with an amazing plethora of one’s fellow humans, and that I can trust myself to engage with others along the entirety of that spectrum.
Because Feminism has taught me that that I am not from a different planet as women, but am an identical life form with only the slightest difference in physiological configuration, and that I have the ability, and moreover, the right to claw my way out of the small, sad, stifling, stunting box that contains the soul-starving choices allowed to one who wishes to live their life as a "Real Man" in this culture.
Feminism is for you. And this project is also for you, if you are willing to do the work to understand and identify with it. This Inheritance is yours to share in equally. The Maiden, Mother, and Crone dwell within you, and they speak to your existence and your path as a creature on this Earth. You *ARE* the Maiden, Mother, and Crone. They are for and of and in all of us, regardless of the comparatively minuscule differences in our organic and chemical configurations.
Because Feminism is by no means monolithic, but the Feminism I see, the Feminism I am surrounded by and identify as and with and strive on behalf of, asks nothing less than that each of us, along the entire spectrum of human gender and its biological and spiritual expression, become and act as whole, complete, subjective beings, and treat others as the same. Feminism asks us, all of us, to turn every surface of ourselves to the light of the sun, to become something capable, in a visceral, deep-seated way, of recognizing the Other in ourselves, and thereby becoming capable of acting from a place without fear, obligation, or desperation. That we all claim our part in the Inheritance of a better and more compassionate world.