Time to put the “female” back in feminism

Looking at semantics and think that “feminism” was really the wrong word in the first place. The supposed “feminist” movement seems to have been a process of women denying the female aspects of self and taking on masculine ways of being (well doing actually) within the world- in order to be “as good as men”. To prove they could work as hard, as  fast and as long  in the same ways as men- and thus “earn” their right to equal pay, equal politics and  their own “freedom” of life.

Actually the model that was presented to us was everything to do with women being “masculinised”- taking on the (stereotypically) male methods of DOING, ACTION, FORCE, WILL and the desire to  WIN and SUCEEED

I grew up an uber-Thatcher product:  private girls school educated in the home counties in the 1980’s. We were taught that  you can have  (earn/buy)  anything you wanted- career, home, BMW…… To do this  you just had  be  a feminist – read as  women taking on as many masculine values and ways of being as possible and denying everything else as spineless. I took it as truth and ,after university, I headed off to deliver 80ft Americas cup sailing yachts  around Australia for a living- pulled up anchors, climbed masts and sailed as fast and as hard as any guy  in this male-led industry could.. I toughened up an “manned- up” – trekking to Everest base camp, run several  businesses, bought my own home, and learned to develop some kind of focused intellectual rigor that means I can “hold my own” in most situations.

No one at school ever mentioned the value  of  the nurturing female qualities- of the gift from the loving and soft feminine. The implicit undercurrent was so strong that staying at home and having a family was a  complete “waste” of your life when there’s so much else you could be  DOING. I took it on unquestioningly and lived a wide, feisty, fabulous, fiercely free (and occasionally feral and unshaven) life accordingly.  Then BAM- those pre- 30’s hormones hit and I started questioning if all of the things I had wanted were ever true for me in the first place..  maybe I don’t want to “hold my own” all the time and actually what I really want ( at least  some of the time) is just to be held. Owning the possibility that maybe I wanted to have a child, a family and be supported by a partner to be a woman in that felt like a dirty secret- and there’s been a literal “coming out process” of daring to speak these yearnings within my life. And yes, a desire to  be valued for BEING (as well as doing)  and to inhabit and embody  the exquisite and extraordinary gifts that  the feminine can bring.

A few years on from being forcefully awakened  to these questions by my hormones I feel like I’m having to re-question and re-invent what  it means to be a woman and what I want equal rights ( and my life) to look like.  Luckily I’m surrounded by a good group of fine and feisty ( and sometimes feeling -full and fearful)  woman and men who are questioning these things and setting out to change ( or is it be changed?) by what is so.

Yes, I still want equal pay, equal thought and my freedom– but I’m interested in a society where I can be rewarded for living from my feminine qualities and values as well. I’d like to be successful, rational AND intuitive; Tender, nurturing AND competent.  To be supported in having a family and still be able to think for myself!

I find myself reading David Deida on enhancing the (supposedly stereotypical) qualities of each gender loving it. Owning the yearning for more of the polarization between masculine and feminine. I’m willing to reclaim the part of me that wants to be deeply woman, to be feminine, light, radiant and lean into some form of support from another (and yes- to let men lift the heavy stuff…)  Wanting to inhabit the part that is guided deeply by my feelings not from a place of neurosis but from a place of they serve me best to live a full, present and empowered life. I’m starting to be certain of the fact that “feminine” values may indeed be a beautiful gift and not actually a weakness to be overcome as was so strongly hinted at in those 80’s girl schools.

It strikes me that, with hindsight, the early feminist movement perhaps should have actually been called something closer to “masculanisation of women” and only now are we ready to start questioning want true  “feminism” actually could be: How  can women live their life with potency from their feminine qualities ( as opposed to being Thatcher style male impersonators) and  to consider that may actually be the most useful and aspiring gift that we can bring to our lives as humans on the planet toady. To nurture life and listening, to support others  in growth and change, to be fertile and fecund in all ways, to foster life itself in all forms……. It feels strikingly clear to me that now is the time to put the “female” back in feminism.


  1. I loved this post and I feel women had to do that, they had to make a stand like they did in FEMINISM and they have lead the way. As life is constant creative process things move on and change to what is needed. And now I feel for myself its a balance of masculine and feminine. For me that feels like an action that is connected to the heart. I am actually trekking to Everest Base camp in 3 weeks in support of Women for Women
    International. http://www.justgiving.com/NedaNenadic
    I am honored to be walking with 12 other in solidarity with all those women (and men) stuck in a war struggle or any other struggle.
    Walking my own prayers of hope and taking other prayers with me.
    I feel its a great time to pray, the times we are living in.
    Raising the awareness about the incredible hands on and holistic work they are doing in war torn countries. In economic situation like this they really need the funds to keep doing this much needed work. And for my vision to bring 5 Rhythms dance into their yearly program.
    So for me as a mother of three beautiful sons it feels great to show by boys that I want to be part of the change of what I would love to see more in the world, yes I am mother but I also have to follow my deepest souls longings to.
    By working together, helping each other, reaching out when I can and when it is most needed. This journey ahead is really awakening me to be strong and soft, to lead and follow, to dare and deeply care, to listen and to act, to rest and keep moving, to give fully and to take care of myself, to nurture and expand, to take part and responsibility for being individual and working together. For me today its all about balance, more about do we feel whole and complete human beings and how do we get there.
    Open minded, connected to our hearts and innate wisdom of the body. What Im learning and seeing more and more as 5 Rhythms teacher is to trust this incredible ancient wisdom that is pulsating in our cells. Not just in connection to my own body but to life all around me. Our interconnectedness is inspiring in its beauty and terrifying in its pain.
    I am breathing in and finding ways to be present with both.
    Just witnessing the news from Syria and at times my heart just cant take it in without screaming why?
    My deepest wish if to have a more fair world for every one, so that we have dignity and freedom to express who we are and woe we are. So that we can expand and grow into the most amazing woman and the most amazing man that we could be.
    Respecting each others, the land and sacredness of his incredible life.

    “The dance of masculine and feminine lies deep in our psyches – nearly as old as darkness and light or emptiness and form. A basic polarity in the universe, yin and yang fuel the agony and ecstasy of our external longings as well as our internal dynamics. Some say they make the world go round.” Anodea Judith

    Women and men have great gifts to offer and I wish for all of us to live just like that.
    Much love and gratitude