“Women need to learn when to shut up” - the statement that inspired this article.
This is the Oxford dictionary definition of misogyny, I would add “fear of” to the definition:
- a feeling of hate or dislike towards women or a feeling that women are not as good as men
Etymology and historical use:
Misogynistic thought is believed to date back to ancient times; Aristotle, for example, famously held that women were inferior, deformed versions of men. The term was coined in the 17th century and is derived from the Greek misos, meaning “hatred,” and gunē, meaning “woman.”
In my early thirties, I became aware that most of the damage that I had done to my body over the years was underpinned by a deeply entrenched internalised misogyny. More than that, I became aware of the damage that internalised misogyny had wreaked on me mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. In fact, almost every self-sabotaging or damaging belief or behaviour I could trace back to this deeply engrained misogyny. Further, I could trace its threads into my family, ancestry and community, and from there, spanning outward into a web that seemed never ending.
The more I became aware of it, the more I witnessed how our collective wounded patriarchal structures had woven this deep and complex thread of fear, loathing and general disdain for the feminine into and through every aspect of life. As I began to pull on that thread in myself, I found it woven into everything, it is in our language and the way we speak colloquially, it’s in our patriarchal religions and carries through into the pagan and new age spirituality, it is in all institutions of education, it is in the medical-industrial complex and all allopathic medical practice, it is in psychology and all forms of mental or emotional treatment structures, it is in all political thought and institutions, it is a core tenet of capitalism and the western way of life, it is in our homes and interpersonal relationships, it is simply fucking everywhere, once you see it you can’t unsee it, and at first it seems utterly overwhelming.
It seems like it would be an impossible task to unravel that thread of fear and loathing of the feminine simply because it is a cornerstone of our wounded patriarchal consensus reality. In a way, that is true; all of these institutions and systems are designed to reinforce the web of misogyny, so the chances of untangling it and clearing it are low, but we can start to clear it from ourselves. We can untangle and pull at the treads of this distortion in our own being so that we don’t continue to perpetuate this diseased state of being.
Firstly, we must witness that most of us, and I am speaking directly to the women reading this article, suffer from deep states of internalised patriarchy and misogyny in women this is generally turned inward and expressed in various forms of self-loathing, self-betrayal and actual self-harm which takes both covert and overt forms, as well as through the expressions of the sister and witch wounds, which create lines of separation and policing of other women and a kind of Stockholm syndrome-esque identification with or support for the misogynistic male, its institutions and practices.
For example, the statement that inspired this article made by a man was echoed by a woman with the words, “Yes, we really should know when to just stop talking”, followed by a coquettish giggle to try to pacify the man who was becoming agitated and aggressive. So this is what we do: we witness weak, aggressive bullies behave like petulant children, but because they are grown men and are more threatening than children, we pacify and and enable their behaviour in order to keep the peace.
This is, of course, just a silly little example that causes no real harm besides an annoyance, but unfortunately, at its highest levels, this misogyny leads to actual war, rape, violence and abuse in every sector and not only of women but the rape and abuse of the planet as well.
So what can we do?
We can start by finding those threads of internalised misogyny and picking at them until we have pulled them out. Part of that practice is to follow those threads back into your youth and beyond into your ancestry. Witness the language and beliefs instilled by your parents, family and cultural environment. This witnessing is for the purpose of uncovering the misogyny, not for the purpose of judgment or in order to alienate you from your family or community, but merely so you can better comprehend how this misogynistic programming and self-loathing was installed in the first place, and once you have a better understanding you can witness the way in which it shows up and plays out in your life.
There are also the aspects of the internalised misogyny/patriarchy that are activated by and woven into the feminine pain body through the witch and sister wounds. So let us unpack this a little in relation to the themes of this article:
The Collective Feminine Pain Body, AKA the Mother/Sister/Witch Wound, is the deep, energetic and ancestral wound all women carry. This wound was not inflicted by the relationship you have with your Mother or other women, but it does inform those relationships. It is, however, the wound of being born a woman into a wounded patriarchal social structure that is not conducive to life or the needs and health of the feminine.
So, although many of us do carry wounds that are directly related to our relationship and experiences with our mothers and other women, which of course, affect how deeply embedded and activated these wounds are and may give them some extra dimensions, the work of harmonising these wounds is not one simply of healing our relationship with women or our mothers, it is about healing, clearing and releasing the collective feminine pain body and the trauma of womanhood in our patriarchal social construct so that we are able to awaken the Feminine Wisdom Body and through that awakened harmony of the Feminine Wisdom Body we become a channel of the Sacred Feminine and the source of all life.
As part of this article, I want to address the effects specifically of the sister and witch wounds and how these serve to deepen our internalised misogyny.
The Sister Wound, like the Witch Wound, is interwoven into the collective expression of the feminine pain body, and as stated before, it is a wound that stems inherently from our patriarchal social structure because prior to this state of consensus reality, we not only lived in community, i.e. "it takes a village" that community was heavily centred around the needs of the Mother and women.
We relied on one another not only for emotional support but for survival. We cared for our own and our community's children, elderly and sick, as a collective, and this made women powerful because we trusted and relied on one another. Women were the cultural, intellectual, wisdom keepers and centre of the social structure, and so the cultural narrative was one of community and respect for all life because women understand the value of life as we are the ones who bring life into the world.
Our current social and religious structures are built on embedding internalised misogyny and reinforcing the feminine pain body and on creating trauma-informed over-identification with the masculine - Blame it all on that bitch Eve or Lilith or whatever slut messed things up for the rest of us! Women can't be trusted, they're all snakes that will betray you. The stories and narratives of the patriarchal era are littered with cautionary myths and tales about dangerous, conniving women and the threat they pose.
We are taught to believe this, and at a very early age, we seek safety by identifying with and seeking allies in the masculine. This sister wound is one of the first wounds we carve into our wombs. Instead of fearing the men who burnt the witches, we fear the women who were burnt.
Patriarchal domination left women with two choices — submit to the ways of the "new" world and betray their sisters OR become an "outcast" or "martyr" in the fight against the "new" world. Instilling this division between women is a cornerstone of our patriarchal social structure. It is the age-old warmongering philosophy of "Divide et impera", or divide and conquer. The more divided women became, the less power we held and the easier it became to dismantle more community or matrilineal social structures. Over the thousands of years of this being drilled into us as human beings, these beliefs and the wounds they create have continued to evolve and grow, but unfortunately, not to heal as they have become woven into the fabric of our social structures.
As with many of the wounds we carry and draw from through our collective feminine pain body, these wounds are often originally instilled through an actual threat to life and survival and then, over time, become more subtle and divisive, so becoming aware of how these wounds manifest and the effects they have on our lives is crucial if we are to heal our wombs and re-activate the Collective Feminine Wisdom Body.
Here are some of the ways the Sister Wound shows up:
Constant judgment of other women
Shaming of other women
Gossiping and trauma bonding as a basis of female friendship
Comparison and competition with women in general
Intentionally excluding and removing certain women
Insecurity around and in the company of other women
Jealousy/Envy toward other women
Lack of trust in women
Holding on to beliefs that women will betray you
Misogynistic traits and beliefs projected onto self and other women
Playing the victim in order to garner perceived safety
Here are a few of the ways we can start to address the Sister Wound:
Track your misogyny - women often are even more misogynistic than men; it is a survival mechanism activated through the wounded or trauma-informed expression of identification with the masculine. So be aware of how misogyny presents and is expressed within you, and also do the work to call it out in yourself and others lovingly.
Practice discernment by learning the difference between judgment and discernment and applying that to your life and interaction with other women. Personally, I can tell by the way these states feel within me; discernment feels gentle, it doesn’t arise from a place or position of superiority or inferiority, it does not activate my ego or my defences. It simply informs me that something, someone or somewhere is for me or not. There is no intellectual superiority or need to belittle or undermine the object of the discernment. When I am in a state of awareness and discernment, I feel more spacious, not less. It does not stem from a place of lack or fear but rather from a place of creation and curation. It encourages me to question my beliefs.
Stop gossiping - yup, just stop it. Yes, you may notice that there are lots of friendships where you suddenly have nothing to say to one another if you're not gossiping, but those are not friendships that are built on love and feminine solidarity. They are built on wounds and are trauma bonds. So do the work to either lovingly bring them into alignment or, if that is not possible, stay in your awareness and don’t get drawn into gossiping, misogyny and bypassing or gaslighting other women or yourself.
Speak up/educate those around you, especially younger women and girls, but fundamentally lead through example by becoming aware of where you are carrying, exhibiting and perpetuation this wound and being honest with yourself in bringing it to light.
Get in circle with other women who are doing this work, but be discerning about these spaces, trust your gut, and if the space feels like a place that is simply catering to the venting of collective pain or deepening into trauma bonding, then it is not a space in which the sister wound or any other feminine wound will be addressed and brought to harmony but rather a space to share and deepen into these wounds.
When it comes to the witch wound, I return to the statement that we were taught to fear the witches but not the men who burned them; in fact, we were taught that those men were our allies. Part of the heroine's journey of dismantling and addressing our internalised misogyny/patriarchy is understanding that in the patriarchal consensus structure, we are taught very early on that safety of various kinds can be found by allying oneself with the masculine - now, don't get me wrong, this isn't all bad because activating the Sacred Masculine within and finding allyship from a balanced healed expression of Masculine energy is very healthy.
Unfortunately, this is rare as our social structures currently don't allow that to happen often. For the most part, we reach a certain age as girls, which differs from woman to woman, but it is often around or just before puberty that the need to align with the masculine occurs. We start to view the feminine (including our own changing bodies) as a potential threat or something untrustworthy, and this activates the sister wound, which in turn leads to the activation of the witch wound and awakens the expression of our internalised misogyny/patriarchy, which tells us that women are not to be trusted unless they are maiden-like or conform to patriarchal narratives of purity or motherliness, and that women/witches are part of the trails we have to face.
This is often also when we begin to fawn and placate as a trauma response because it keeps us safe and makes us a "good girl.” The other form of association with the masculine often expressed at this time is the "tom-boy" identity, again not necessarily a bad thing; if integrated and not trauma-informed, it is a beautiful expression of the masculine energy within us. But when these aspects are trauma-informed, they cause shame, dissociation and denial of the feminine, and that is where this becomes necessary to address.
This wound cannot be taken lightly; the fear and shame we carry collectively as women but also as men because of the repeating cycles of terror we have faced under the wounded masculine runs very deep. We carry cellular memory of it in our wombs, blood and bones. Although it is termed as the witch wound, it may also be called the persecution wound, so it doesn't only apply to or affect those of us who identify with the term Witch. We all carry the genetic memories of persecution in our lineages, so it is important to acknowledge how this wound plays out in our lives.
The Witch Wound manifests as:
Fear of being labelled as "separate", "other", or "bad"
Disconnection from your own cultural / lineage / Instinctive or Intuitive beliefs
Disconnection from and fear of feminine healing modalities
Feeling disembodied from yourself / ashamed of being a woman
Suppression of your personal beliefs and the freedom of those beliefs
Suppression of your emotions
A deep fear of speaking out and/or being seen
Disconnection from your inherent intuitive abilities and gifts
Isolation from others and their support, especially women
A mistrust of other women or men not in your "inner circle” / fear of the “other”
Constant fear of violence being used against you
Choosing to ally with wounded men or women because this conforms to the norm and is then safe
Shaming others for their feminine practices or beliefs
Fear of not being a "good girl"
Shaming other women for being "bad girls”
Placating or pacifying behaviour when men or other women express misogynistic views or violent tendencies
Gaslighting yourself and other women when they/you experience misogyny or any form of abuse, whether covert or overt
Victim blaming or shaming
Releasing the Witch Wound begins with:
Acknowledging that living in constant fear is a choice and doing the work to address our personal and collective trauma.
Acknowledging the trauma, pain, wounding, and oppression that has been happening for millennia and doing our part to live from love and compassion towards ourselves and others.
Choosing to do the internal work around these wounds and being brave enough to talk about them
Grounding ourselves individually as we journey with awareness through the collective feminine pain body
Rewriting the narrative that we were born into and that keeps us “trapped” in the old stories
Reclaiming ourselves, our past, and our lineages so that we may access our collective wisdom body and remember our sacred selves
Reclaim the true power and meaning of words such as witch, whore and virgin so that we can remember why their meaning was turned on us as women in the first place and reclaim our power.
As we begin to address these wounds within us, we untangle the map of shame, gaslighting, distortion and abuse that has been woven through and into the feminine psyche; we unravel our internalised misogyny and begin to reweave ourselves in ways that venerate and respect the Sacred nature of our Feminine being.
We reclaim our power and become an active and vocal oracle and channel for the Sacred Feminine, which always attempts to communicate with and through us. When we become attuned to that Sacred Channel, it opens up aspects, skills, powers and knowledge that we didn’t even know existed. We find a capacity to hold and bear witness to the magnitude of suffering the world has collectively endured under the tyrannical boot of the wounded masculine/feminine patriarchal axis and the capacity within our powerful, full, feminine form to digest that pain, suffering and grief, to transmute and transform it into greater deeper states of love.
We access deep within us the wellspring of the creative force that can never and will never be taken or corrupted; there, in that place, we reawaken the Sacred Feminine Collective Wisdom Body, and when that aspect of us comes online, I promise you, She is pure fucking Fire. She shines with love so deep, compassion so infinite and an integrity that cannot be swayed or defined or destroyed.
I encourage you to do the work of unravelling the threads of internalised misogyny and patriarchy within you and awakening to your own channel to the Sacred Feminine and wishes to speak through and for you now.
Isa Ka Ra