Joe Scarborough, Bill George, Brian Andreas, Tim Ryan, Matt Seiler and Adrian Grenier on the “Do Men Get It?” panel at HuffPost’s Third Metric Conference. Photo Credit: Huffington Post.
Last week at The Huffington Post’s first annual Women’s Conference, Joe Scarborough of “Morning Joe” sat on a panel called “Do Men Get It?” He sat with five other men, including actor Adrian Grenier, artist and storyteller Brian Andreas, Harvard professor Bill George, Ohio Representative Tim Ryan and Global CEO of IPG Mediabrands Matt Seiler. One of the things they talked about was why there are not more women in leadership in the United States. Joe was perplexed by how other countries in the West could have women as their heads of state, yet in America, we have still not achieved this. “We are way behind on this and I don’t know why,” he said.
The moment I heard Joe say this, I knew I needed to write this piece to voice what I think is the missing part of the conversation.
In my opinion, feminine spirituality is the missing link to why more women are not in leadership in the U.S. in 2013.
Let me explain.
Here in the United States, live in a culture that is 78.4 percent Christian, 1.7 percent Jewish, and less than 1 percent Muslim. All of these religions have a male (in image and/or language) as the ultimate spiritual authority. The feminine, in all of these religions, is not given divine status. She is not only kept from divine status, she is said to be the downfall of humanity (think: Adam and Eve) and is said to be in service of men. The Bible has endless passages to create this way of thinking.
1 Timothy 2:11-14 “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.”
Ephesians 5:22-24: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife…wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”
So, here were are, living in a society whose religions do not recognize the female as divine, and we are questioning why women can’t seem to move past the glass ceiling?
The whole system is set up for male leadership and it has been for over 2,000 years.
Before that, however, the cultural and social system was set up with women in leadership and central to the spiritual domain. Woman as Goddess was the norm. Women had divine status. The Goddess was seen as the primordial spiritual authority. She was the creator of life. Considering women are the ones that give birth, it seems like a no-brainer that the Goddess was recognized as the Creator.
But, after 30,000 years or so of this system, a new system was established by warrior tribes who brought with them a belief in male gods and over a period of time, worked to conquer those who believed in the Goddess religion. Women’s bodies quickly became the enemy, as this was what was held most sacred in the Goddess tradition. In fact, all of earth was seen as the body of the Goddess.
Society shifted from a matrilineal system to a patrilineal system, and women were stripped of their economic, legal and spiritual authority, and eventually became slaves to men. It is believed by many who have studied this transition that the Bible was written specifically to assume control over the people who believed in the Goddess religion.
I want to make clear that I am not refuting God or the Divine Masculine. In fact, I wonder where the Divine Masculine was during the time of the Goddess religion. Was he oppressed? We he dormant? What was it like for men during that time?
I think the important piece for all of us to look at is what could life be like with the recognition of the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine working in partnership as co-spiritual authorities? What would life look like if we spoke about both She and He making up the Oneness of our existence?
Chinese medicine and Eastern philosophy have a way of talking about this through the Yin (Feminine Principle) and the Yang (Masculine Principle). The whole idea is to balance the two for better health and a thriving life. Couldn’t we learn something from this?
I’m not saying that everyone has to worship the Goddess in order for us move forward in regard to women’s leadership. What I am saying is that in order to truly make the shift to balanced leadership in the United States between women and men, we as a national culture, do need to start acknowledging the Feminine Divine — whether we are religious or not.
The male spiritual authority has been embedded in our cultural consciousness and it seeps into everything we do and say. My feeling is that if we don’t address this we are going to progress at a very slow rate in terms of women and leadership, and this will have huge repercussions on our entire society.
If you accept the whole notion of role models, isn’t it common sense that it would be difficult for women to operate in a culture that places a “He” as the ultimate role model?
The other thing I want to address is that if we neglect to acknowledge the Feminine Divine in our mainstream language (i.e. One nation under God), every time a woman reaches a leadership position, she will still be operating under a masculine dominant paradigm, which ultimately will rob her from utilizing her innate feminine powers to help solve the world’s ills. In this format, women will never truly be at peace, and neither will men. Our world will remain broken.
Without women claiming their natural spiritual authority, how can we expect women to lead?
So Joe, this is my letter to you to fill in the gap of what you may have been questioning. I’d love to hear your thoughts, as well as anyone else’s. It’s time to bring this conversation to the forefront.
This post was first published on The Huffington Post.
Tabby Biddle is a women’s leadership expert and writer covering women’s rights and the empowerment of women and girls. Learn more at tabbybiddle.com.