From the love of power to the power of love. Equality between women and men can save the world

Did you know that Adam’s first wife wasn’t Eve?
Did you know that before praying to God, we prayed to a Goddess?

In order to understand the issue of equality of the sexes (which we now call gender equality because fortunately we are no longer limited to the purely biological but also open to social and cultural identity) it is essential to know the history between women and men.

I have been a social entrepreneur for 30 years. I created and organised many events and publications in the fields of education, employment and economics. Through my education and professional achievements I was not aware that there could be limits associated with my female gender.

It is this certain lack of awareness that is shared by the majority of women. We benefit from the apparent victory of the feminists who preceded us. Their struggles appear to be consigned to the past and we think that this label no longer serves our capacity of seduction.

We cannot deny that in our part of the world, women have acquired the same rights as men, and that all discrimination on the basis of sex is forbidden. But does this mean that we are truly equal to men?

Every woman bears the scars from the long history of women. Knowledge of this history is essential in understanding our fears and difficulties with other women and with men.

Our freedom can only be achieved once we realise that our values, behaviour and beliefs are the result of the history of humanity. It is only then that we can challenge them and forge our own opinions. But a large part of the history of humanity has been cut out.  Only history of patriarchy will be presented to all as the only official history.

God was a woman

It wasn’t long ago that archaeologists discovered that prehistoric statues dating back 20 000 years weren’t used for fertility rituals but to represent the Goddess Mother, who was considered the creator of all humanity.

Our knowledge of the past had us believe that there were goddesses as well as gods but not one single Mother Goddess without God. Despite the discoveries of James Mellaart in Anatolia, Turkey, which explained the continuity between the Palaeolithic and the Neolithic periods, ritual practices around a goddess are still all too often referred to as a cult and not as a religion. The Goddess herself is often written with a small “g” although God always starts with a capital “G”.

These interpretations reflect the conditioning in which we live which is a world dominated by men and by God the Father for 2 000 years.

The more we study it the more we realise that this religion covered a long and complex period of time of a type of civilisation that was very different from ours.

It is estimated that the cult of the Mother Goddess reigned between 25 000 BC and 7 000 BC. Then came a period of many goddesses alongside many gods. It was the Roman Empire that closed the doors of the last temples around 500 BC.

The civilisation of the Goddess Mother enjoyed a strong division of tasks between women and men but not the superiority of one gender above the other. Their system of values were based on art, cooperation and spirituality not on war and domination.

But why did we worship a woman at the beginning of time?

It seems that at that time they didn’t understand the link between the sexual act and fertility. There was no direct line of descent by the father. Children took the name of the clan of the mother. It’s what we call a “matrilineal society” and not a matriarchal one, which implies a form of domination.

Women were revered for their ability to produce life. Sexuality was seen as sacred and not exclusive. The religions that followed cut sex from spirituality.

From the moment men understood their role in procreation, the concept of virginity and fidelity was born. And so they created their legitimacy: Marriage! Men therefore appropriated the wombs of women and consequently the children, to whom they transferred their land and property. Behind the moral and religious facade, they played an economic game that gave them power.

Gradually the goddesses had to take husbands. At first, smaller in size and importance, these men soon took first place. From the idea of one all-powerful God placed above all other gods, we arrive at the idea of one unique God – the father of all creation. The arrival of a unique and male God goes hand in hand with the creation of a woman as a secondary creature there to serve the superior man.  From then on there were no more priestesses only priests.

Because we cannot remove the power of procreation from a woman, it was considered a curse, “you will give birth in pain”. The all-powerful paternity then forbade any feminine pleasures that jeopardised fidelity.

The woman from the era of the Goddess Mother was honoured by men and considered herself as a complete being who had no reason to envy men. This environment promoted self-confidence enabling women to flourish. Women are still far from having regained such feelings despite our equal rights.

But was Eve really Adam’s first wife in the scriptures?

Here is what is written in the Zohar (the foundational work in the literature of Jewish mystical thought): “When Jehovah created Adam, at the same time he created a woman, Lilith, who came from the same earth as Adam. She was given to Adam as a wife. But a quarrel broke out in the household concerning an issue that the courts considered a matter to be kept behind closed doors.” The dispute was of a sexual nature. Lilith refused to be constantly under Adam during the sexual act. Lilith had laid claim to equality. Adam denied her that. So she decided to leave. The threat of killing a hundred of their children per day didn’t bring her back. From then on, Lilith became symbolic of the evil powers of the female, a demon with long hair and wings, with a snake-like body and claws. It was necessary to associate a woman’s freedom with a terrifying image so that men and women would push it away forever.

Another important representation in creating the identity of women is the Virgin Mary. The Virgin is the servant and mother of God. In her we have created a totally inaccessible model of submission and procreation without sex.

Men were served by the cause of God to carry out some of their most heinous crimes. For centuries, women were considered potential witches. They could be condemned and tortured to get a confession. They were pierced with needles at different points on their bodies to be sure that they were not possessed by the devil. And anyway it always ended by being burnt at the stake.

Collective history has profoundly marked our individual destinies.

Whoever holds financial power also holds the power to freedom. These last 5 000 years have been thousands of years of suffering for women because they were always part of the property of their fathers and then their husbands. Property that could be sold or exchanged. It’s still like that in most parts of the world.

The fear of women sparked a terrifying femicide which causes still even today rape and domestic violence. But the fight probably dates back much further. It is the struggle against the Goddess Mother to take power.

Every woman bears the scars of such enslavement. Whether they realise it or not, women are consumed with the feeling of inferiority, dependence and submission that they have all internalised it even if they can defend themselves and rebel against it. We disregard our own gender. We are often unrelenting judges of ourselves and other women.

Women still often see men as the oppressor of which she is the victim because she forces herself to satisfy the man, because she revolves around his needs, because she wants to make herself indispensible in order to be loved. The man is just as much the victim in this degrading situation as the woman.

How do we explain why women have not formed a coalition to regain their liberty? For a long time women have not even tried to free themselves. It is all too easy to let someone else take responsibility. There is a sort of comfort in submission, enjoyment and even strength but this can often turn into a sense of hopelessness. Women love above all to love men. The revolt of women is thus superficial and prevents solidarity with other women to win their freedom.

Women want to love. Men want to conquer.

Here’s what the neuropsychologist David Servan-Schreiber wrote in his book “We Can Say Goodbye Several Times”: An area where I have not really succeeded, I have to admit, is love. For some strange reason, I didn’t know how to love women as I would have liked to have loved them. A love story, is one of conquest first of all and then occupation. A pure balance of power in which the man has the interest in being the dominant party, to keep the woman under his grasp so as to avoid that she rebels. Impossible to imagine a harmonious relationship, a connection based on exchange, or equal partnership. … Fortunately, I was able to shake off such grotesque ideas. I was finally able to enjoy real love stories with women who were humanly and intellectually my equals. I could abandon the role of tutor. I learnt that there was more pleasure in giving and receiving rather than dominating.

The “strange reason” to which David Servan-Schreiber refers is that of centuries of patriarchy based on the domination of women by men. It’s not 70 years of women’s rights that will succeed in changing our culture, relations and conditioning. We continue to live while ignoring the traces left behind by millions of years of conflictual relations between women and men.

The majority of men and women are still at war with each other. Women often adopt the role of the victim and men remain the oppressor. A dominant man lives by contradiction: he says he wants Eve at home but dreams of Lilith. He is often tempted to find another woman other than the one he has.

The right to vote, the right to do what they want with their own bodies and use contraception are essential for the independence of every woman. The equation woman = mother disappears. Men can then no longer control female sexuality. The woman takes control of procreation. These are the conditions a woman needs in order to flourish.

Since the 80s, more and more women have fought like men to regain their self-esteem while maintaining their femininity. They have become professionally active but at the same time they still do the lion’s share of domestic and family chores, literally exhausting them. Women have less free time than men as well as less sleep.

Many women expend a lot of energy trying to correspond to an ideal of what beauty is, in order to seduce. They chase after physical perfection while also wanting to be perfect in all the various roles that they assume, both “naturally” as well as those of their choosing. But this search for balance in perfection and seduction requires an enormous amount of time and energy. Women are then too few to have enough momentum and audacity to create large projects or to innovate. This lack of strength further adds to the stereotypes that women have to overcome. Society is always asking women to prove themselves much more than men. Their legitimacy is not automatic.

So they are constantly trying to persuade and convince those around them of their added value both at work and at home.

The woman who has achieved a certain level of inner peace and self-awareness feels compelled to participate actively in the collective development of others. It is probably because I embarked on this journey that I wanted to create JUMP, which promotes equality at work, while working together with women but also with companies.

Women have more to gain than just their rights – it’s about their pride and dignity as well. They must reclaim their inner strength, what I call power. The revolt is still only an expression of power relations. Every woman must find her own way to create inner peace and carve out her own identity. Our true freedom comes in the realisation that our values, our attitudes and beliefs are the result of the history of mankind. It is only then that we can challenge and forge our own opinions, creating our own lives. For a relationship, both people must have their freedom in order for genuine love to last.

Women have not yet revived their inner strength, their power. To find self-love, women should stop feeling that other women are their rivals when it comes to seducing men. We should be creating a sisterhood with other women.

At JUMP we have created a “sorority bead” made by Tibetans living in exile in India. Give this bead to a woman that you believe in and who you will support through life’s projects. By putting it in her purse or hanging it on her bag, whenever she sees it she will remember that someone believes in her and it will give her the strength to carry on.

A new way of thinking is essential for humanity.

One consequence of male domination is the loss or devaluation of feminine values. War, power, money and sex have ruled the world. Men also suffer. They suffer from the damage that such actions generate and they suffer because they are cut off from their inner femininity. The evolution of men comes through the evolution of women and vice versa.

Fortunately, in our countries, we have entered the twilight of this patriarchal dominance. Finally, if a woman is to be equal to a man, it is imperative that “so called” feminine values (emotion, vulnerability, communication,…) have as much importance as “so called” male values (intellect, strength, competition, ..).

It is not just that we need more women in the higher echelons of politics and our economies, we also need to strengthen the feminine values of the men and women who understand the deeper meaning of life and who will lead the world in a more fair, just, inclusive and sustainable way.

This change is our opportunity and our responsibility.

Reconciling our masculine and feminine dimensions will result in more power and success both collectively and as individuals.

Moving from domination and competition to cooperation between men and women is the next jump for civilisation.

“It is time to move from the love of power to the power of love.” (Paule Salomon in her book “La femme solaire”)

 

 

Isabella Lenarduzzi
Founder of JUMP “Empowering Women, advancing the Economy”

Our videos