The PelicanWeb's Journal of Sustainable Development

Integral Human Development
Spirituality, Solidarity, Sustainability, Democracy, Technology, Nonviolence

Vol. 5, No. 9, September 2009
Luis T. Gutierrez, Editor

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This article by Elka Jackson fits like a concluding synthesis to the articles by Dr. Mangahas and President Carter. It is based on real life experience, and this is what really counts. Fancy theories, anthropological and otherwise, fade in power when they are not confirmed by experience -- and this includes religious experience.

Ms. Jackson provides a reality check on the following myths:

Myth #1: Feminism is a cult that wants to brain-wash women.
Myth #2: Feminists are female.
Myth #3: Feminists are manhating male-bashers.
Myth #4: Feminism is a threat to men.

If these myths could be generally recognized as such, and discarded accordingly, four enormous obstacles to integral human development would vanish. This is good stuff, written by a person who has overcome the anxiety about being "politically correct" and the fear of unfair criticism. She knows what she is talking about, because she has walked the talk. Her blog, The Bee Hive, is highly recommended as a source of wisdom and encouragement for those committed to the struggle for racial and gender equality.

The myths and realities of feminism

Elka N. Jackson
Frost Illustrated
News & Views of African Americans
Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA
30 June 2009
Reprinted with Permission

With the recent nomination to the Supreme Court of Judge Sonia Sotamayor, President Obama once again demonstrated his “audacity to hope” as well as his ability to add fuel to an already raging right wing fire. It is no surprise that the root of conservative outrage over Obama’s choice is that Sotomayor violates the first tenet of conservative ideology: that one should be both white and male to acquire, maintain and systematically practice power, authority, and control in any of this country’s institutions.

Sotomayor has made it clear that she is proud of her status as a woman and a person of color and is depending on these qualities to help guide her in her efforts to make fair, thoughtful, empathetic and balanced decisions as a Supreme Court justice. Sotomayor’s statements have brought her under fire and may, some say already have, come back to haunt her. But, the question others have asked is why should she not be honest in acknowledging that who and what she is will influence her decision-making?

Why should the right wing be so up in arms over her comments when who and what they are have been influencing public policy in this country since its founding? What exactly is at the heart of their vitriolic response to Sonia Sotomayor? Yes, they are upset that Sotomayor is a minority, but I would argue that ultimately the greatest problem the right wing has with Sotomayor is her gender, not her race. The reality is that the greatest threat Sotomayor poses to the right wing lies not in her race but in her open embrace of her feminine power and her determination to stand-by her feminist principles.

Words like “Feminism” and “feminist” are singular in their ability to generate an intense emotional response from both men and women. In large part, this is due to the vast amount of misunderstanding surrounding these terms. I’d like to explode a few of the myths about Feminism and what it means to be a feminist and replace them with realities.

Myth #1: Feminism is a cult that wants to brain-wash women.

Reality: Feminism is defined as the movement for social, political and economic equality for women and men. On that level, the primary goal of Feminism is to achieve mutual cooperation, equality, and respect between the sexes. However, on a spiritual and emotional level, Feminism is also a system to achieve balance and wholeness for both men and women in all areas of their lives. Feminism takes Divine Feminine principles, such as creativity, empathy, fairness and connectivity, and elevates them to their proper status as equal to and coinciding with Divine Masculine principles such as action, initiative, movement and individualism. Feminism as a system recognizes that men and women must embrace both their feminine and masculine principles to live whole, balanced lives. When we attempt to deny any one of these elements we live half-lives as broken souls.

Myth #2: Feminists are female.

Reality: Wrong. You are not automatically a feminist if you’re a female; nor are you an anti-feminist if you’re a male. There are many women who have so completely internalized the patriarchy they have been historically and systematically controlled by that they fear and misunderstand their feminine power and Feminism just as much as some men do. Ultimately, Feminism is not a genderbased ideology, it is a mindset and a worldview; both women and men can (and should) embrace and practice Feminist principles. In fact, in using phrases and terms like “Hope,” “Diplomacy,” “Empathetic leader,” “peaceful resolution,” and “yes, we can!” without choking on them, even President Obama is honoring and practicing his feminine principles. Yes, Barack Obama is in my view – hold on to your seats – a Feminist.

Myth #3: Feminists are manhating male-bashers.

Reality: This is perhaps one of the greatest and most frustrating misperceptions about Feminism. I often have to explain to people (primarily men) that when I’m bashing men, I’m not being a Feminist, I’m being a male-basher. Unlike patriarchy, Feminism is not a “divide and conquer” ideology rooted in competition and the destruction of others. As a feminist, I do not need to deny a man’s value to affirm my own. In fact, by hating men or any population of people for that matter, I would be going against—not with—my Feminist ideals.

Myth #4: Feminism is a threat to men.

Reality: Many men view Feminism as an insult or threat to their sense of manhood because they have bought so completely into the false notion that anything considered “feminine” is equal to weakness and powerlessness. The reality is that men need not be afraid of feminists or Feminism. Feminism is a threat to men and the broken male-dominated value system we operate in if, and only if, you’re a man who views the ultimate goals of mutual cooperation, equality, and respect between the sexes as a threat. If you’re a man and the thought of having to share or relinquish power, authority, or control to a woman scares you to death, then that does not make Feminism a threat to you, it makes you a man who is threatened by Feminism.

As she accepts the honor of being the first Latina on the Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor will no doubt face enumerable challenges. As we have already seen, these challenges will come in the form of blatant bigotry and fear-based hate mongering, primarily from the right wing but, sadly, also from men in general. My hope for her and for all women struggling to reclaim our rightful place of equal value and worth within a patriarchal system is that we will continue to practice our feminist ideals without apology, speak our truths, and hold firm to our hopes, wishes, and dreams for an egalitarian society that strives to live life in balance.

Copyright © 2009 by Elka Jackson


Elka N. Jackson is a freelance writer, thinker, Montessori educator, and social justice advocate who gives voice to a wide range of topics and issues. She encourages you to check out her column "The Bee Hive" in the weekly Frost Illustrated newspaper and become a regular visitor to the Bee Hive blog.

Comments can be sent to her at treeofwysdm@gmail.com.

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The Bee Hive

Frost Illustrated

African American History

Great African Americans

Great African American Women

Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin

Martin Luther King Jr

Pauli Murray

Pauli Murray's Life and Legacy

Episcopalians honor Pauli Murray

Excerpt from
"Dark Testament"

Hope is a crushed stalk
Between clenched fingers.
Hope is a bird's wing
Broken by a stone.
Hope is a word in a
  tuneless ditty --
A word whispered
  with the wind,
A dream of forty acres
  and a mule,
A cabin of one's own
  and a moment to rest,
A name and place
  for one's children
And children's children
  at last ...
Hope is a song
  in a weary throat.

Anna Pauline "Pauli" Murray
historian, lawyer, poet, activist and priest
USA, 1910-1985

"Human development, if not engendered,
is fatally endangered."

Mahbub ul Haq
Pakistan (1934-1998)


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