Inoculation

atrotlFlinders (author of At The Root Of This Longing) writes, ‘The calculating gaze that a marketing consultant casts upon a young girl isn’t really even sexist or misogynist. Nothing that specific. Rivers, forests, fields, children, animals–for the mind that has no category “sacred,” let alone “sacred feminine,” everything looks about the same.’ (305) To the marketing consultant, they all look like money, and laws that stand in the way of making a profit must be changed for they are a nuisance.

‘ “Greed kills law,” Draupadi teaches us. But she teaches us also that our protection from lawlessness and greed doesn’t come from outside anyway…. If a woman knows who she is, she cannot be drawn into an abusive relationship or manipulated by corporate media or prevented from playing the active role in politics…. She is quite simply immune to exploitation,’ writes Flinders. (Or is she? She is not immune to patriarchal violence.) ‘Further, if a whole generation of girls could grow up knowing who they are, inoculated against sexism, their very presence would bring into question everything that has kept women at the margins of life.’ (305) image from wikipedia.

‘The world girls are growing up now, though, is enormously complex. Traditional nurturant skills aren’t enough…. Perhaps the most exciting thing women can do for girls is demonstrate the new forms it can take and the skills in which it is deployed…. We speak so much about “needs” when we think about young people, but the mystics never tire of reminding us that the human being’s deepest need is to give.’ (314-315)

To reconnect women ‘with the sacred so fully that they are then able to recharge Western culture itself’ (320), Flinders recommends that: (image from wikimedia)

  1. ‘women must be connected, or reconnected, with one another
    1. intergenerationally (323-324)
      1. ‘grown women must find ways to be there for young girls, available and encouraging and inspiring…. When a girl begins to menstruate, for example, she is entering a mystery…. We must help our girls feel initiated–proud and joyful instead of stricken and vulnerable. Part of the grand community of women.’
      2. speak fearlessly and listen attentively–share
    2. cross-culturally, particularly ‘between women in the developed and developing nations.’ (322-323) Flinders (1998) gives some examples:
      1. ‘examine ourselves closely and regularly’
      2. read a few books, like:
        1. I, Rigoberta Menchu (image from wikipedia)
        2. The Voice Of Hope, collected interviews with Aung San Suu Kyi
        3. anything by Vandana Shiva
      3. contribute to organizations like MADRE
      4. join the Women’s International League For Peace And Freedom
      5. learn about the Beijing Conference and emulate its spirit
      6. use your untapped knowledge and power
      7. vote conscientiously
      8. shop conscientiously
  2. ‘we must be capable of speaking from real depths … [, from] a genuine, active interior life … and convey to young girls the sanctity of both the interior and the exterior life–spirit, mind and body.’ (324-327)
    1. ‘The capacity to feel another’s pain as you own, the nucleus of reform politics, is a spiritual quality. The capacity to endure … arises out of the depths that Simone Weil reached in prayer, and Gandhi in meditation. Feminism must find its way into those depths.’ image of addams from wikipedia.
    2. For centuries feminism has been aligned with genuine spirituality, not with organized religion–‘read Jane Addams or Olive Schreiner or Lucretia Mott [pictured]. Read about contemporary Italian feminists,… whose patron saint is Teresa of Ávila expressly because she was a teacher of meditation.’
    3. ‘When individuals are drawn to a selfless cause … energy and creativity come into play…. The Chipko movement, the Catholic Worker movement, the United Farm Workers (whose leader, Cesar Chavez, was ‘a man, like Gandhi, of prayer and fasting’), the liberation theology activists in Latin America, Vinobha Bhave‘s land reform movement’, the American civil rights movement rooted in southern churches and more deeply in African spirituality, etc., were sustained by the feeling of being ‘part of something larger’.
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