By Katy Kettner
I’ve been sitting with some thoughts recently, off the back of the recent news on Sudan criminalizing Female Genital Mutilation. My thoughts have led to words, and my words have led to this, which I would like to share with you. I’ve seen a lot of people share this great news, and rightly so! A lot of us are mortified this kind of stuff still goes on, and I find myself wondering over and over again how on earth this catastrophic form of torture ever came about. This is patriarchal inequality at its worst! And sadly, the truth is, sex inequality goes on everywhere; including our developed countries. It is just far more subtle and set within our theory of cultural ‘norm’ that some of us aren’t even aware of the subconscious repression and often active suppression caused by a patriarchal society! But sadly it does happen. Women are still held to a different grade; within religion, science, research, work forces, leadership, the early years of psychology, sexuality and many more. Now this is in no way an aggressive rant intended to point the finger. None of us are to blame and yet we are all to blame! I do believe we are moving forward all the time; we’re on our way, as Scott Erickson likes to say! This is just something I am passionate about, and I long to see a world of equality for my children; especially my daughter! I feel that we should be talking about this, we should be encouraging one another to critically analyse a multitude of external and internal messages and ‘norms’. Patriarchal society still exists, let talk about this…
‘At what point was the power of women deemed as unnecessary or an interference, as opposed to an equal part in the Divine Dance?’
Now going back to the question of why? Why the brutality and torturing acts, like FGM, to our women? Why the disgust and shame over female sexuality? Why the gender pay gaps? Why disarm the female voice? The why’s go on. Perhaps it has something to do with fear? Women have always obtained a deep force within themselves. I think we all do, but looking back on history, women for some reason had an ability to more easily access this ‘Old Wild Knowing’ as Clarissa Pinkola Estes calls it. And at some point, many moons ago, I think this became a threat! Which is a shame because for centuries women were the healers and wisdom accessors of their time. They were respected deeply for their ability to finely tune into the flow by which everything moves and is sustained. Among tribes and communities, men would regularly ask the women to come together and pray in times of desperation i.e if the crops were not doing as well, or someone was sick. The men recognised a deeply divine and formidable power that occurred when women came together; something different to when they came together. Around the open fire they would begin the gathering by stomping their feet; kicking up dust. They would begin to move and sway their bodies as they began an embodied collective. They knew what it was to be free, and to find a deep force within that space.They would clap their hands, creating a rhythm by which to centre themselves and connect to the inner Divine. They would use their voices, to raise the praises but also as an intuitive act, tapping into the nervous system and accessing the unconscious mind where deep Knowing dwells and rivers of truth lay. They would begin to hold hands, hold each other, embrace the other; knowing they were stronger together than apart. When I first began delving into some anthropology, I was always filled with goosebumps. These intuitive behaviours are so beautiful. Healing would happen, guiding light would be sought, wisdom would be found, strength and perseverance would be gathered for the community! Powerful shit happened! And the whole community thrived as a result. Women obtain something different. Not better, not worse; but unalike anything else. And so I ask, why, or at what point, did all this become a threat? Why are we so tethered from this wild nature? How did we become so disconnected to ourselves, our intuition, our bodies? Why have our voices become so small? At what point was the power of women deemed as unnecessary or an interference, as opposed to an equal part in the Divine Dance?
Moving into 2020, thankfully, we are moving far beyond things like FGM in most cultures, but the expectations of women are still exceptionally limited and/or damaging. We haven’t quite reached equality. Women are to have a voice, but be it a quiet voice, don’t rock the boat, don’t disagree with major institutions, and by all means don’t challenge shit, not serious shit anyway! Women can create attraction by all means, we don’t mind them flaunting their bodies, but don’t kick up any unwanted fuss! Be sweet, kind and pretty to look at, but don’t expect power or predominance in important areas like political leadership, religion, scientific research, moral or sexual authority. We don’t like women to be as much as they are. We don’t like women to break free; perhaps we fear the ‘damage’ they would cause? We’d rather they wouldn’t stretch or reach too much; we basically prefer a folded up version of women. Pretty messed up I know! And when I say we, I mean we as in us, a collective society with cultural overlays and injections – which can be very positive (depending what culture you live in), or very detrimental.
As I mentioned, in many ways we are all to blame. Hence it is important we raise the discussion and build awareness, as maybe there are ways in which we can all help the world move forward to a place of equality and inclusion?
‘To access a profound wisdom is to access something felt not seen; it is enigmatic!’
A good deal of literature on the subject of women’s power states that men are afraid of women’s power. But actually, from what I see, and many scholars would agree, women themselves are also afraid of their own power. The feminine attributes are vast, and it can take a lot of bravery to endure through some treacherous journey’s to access a profound wisdom that reaches down into our very bones. Something felt not seen; it’s enigmatic, boundless and mighty! It’s no wonder both men and women, and even the ego, can both shy away from this. To wrestle with the unknown and come face to face with our own stuff is scary. If men are ever going to learn to stand it, then women need to learn to stand it! If we want men to face it and appreciate it, then women need to face it and appreciate it. If men are ever going to understand women, then women need to illuminate to them the configuration of the wild feminine; the true wise woman.
This, my friends, may take strength. Men will need to be strong in the face of an unknown cultural transition. Strong men aren’t threatened by the wild feminine, but in fact are deeply attracted to it; it fires the real men up! Being married to a strong man, I am often in awe of his humble admiration and desire to see the wild woman in me roar! In fact, the two of us live in this sort of intertwined natural spinning whirl most of the time; whereby the ripples of our individual journey inwards pulls the other deeper into theirs. He embraces and see’s my power, because he embraces and can see his. Which only reinforces this need for each other, men and women, equally! No us or them, just us!
‘It’s about getting comfortable with what the truth gets uncomfortable with!..Get curious with it!’
For women to be able to access their own divine power, they must be willing to stand in the face of it. To be strong does not mean to whip out our muscles and flex. In the words of Clarissa Pinkola Estes ‘ It means meeting one’s own numinosity without fleeing, actively living with the wild woman nature in one’s own way. It means to be able to learn, to be able to stand what we know. It means to stand and live’.
So rise dear sisters! Rise to yourselves, to your inner Knowing, on the ground on which you stand! Let your old wild feminine rise, let her be unearthed, let her reach new heights. Tear down un-serving walls and stereotypes. Be sensitive to what shall or must be written out and what shall be woven in. Nurture your soul by listening, and feed it with the nutrients of stillness; tailor this time with your preferences. Be willing to burn big with passion, burn big with words, ideas, vision, with desires for whatever it is you truly love. Rise to the truth about yourself, lovely fierce one, and get comfortable with it. More importantly, get comfortable with what truth gets uncomfortable with! Get curious with it! And if it’s called upon you, fight for the change! Move into complexity and connection. Move into The Dance; your Dance, Our Dance!
Katy Kettner is a Specialist Women’s/Pelvic Health Physiotherapist in the North East of England where she lives with her husband and two children. Katy’s work is largely driven by her passion for science, her fascination for the human body and its profound ability to communicate, the multiplexity of the mind, and the vast power of the untamed feminine soul. Katy seeks to connect what was never meant to be separate, and to celebrate, educate and empower. Within her practice, she seeks to help unearth and untangle the beautiful stories deep within, and to build bridges between the known and the felt. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube.