A Girl`s Voice: a BRIDGE to Women

Posted by on 18 Jul, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

This is a wonderful article written by Trista Hendred, author of the Girl God, a book for young and old children celebrating the Divine Feminine. Enjoy!

 

A Girl’s Voice: a BRIDGE to Women

There is a wound in the world that is specific to women and girls. Many of us take a lifetime to figure out what it is. In my case, giving birth to a daughter was a bridge to my own healing and prompted me to find a new path for both of us.

I did not realize how deeply my upbringing in the Church had tainted and still suppressed my core being until I read Patricia Lynn Reilly’s book,  A God Who Looks Like Me.

Everyone is born of a woman, but somehow the patriarchal creation myth reversed this. Women are secondary, if not cursed, via this tradition.

The textbooks that our children read are still almost entirely male-dominated filled with male-accomplishments. Our spiritual communities are still mostly male-led and refer to God as “He.”

Religious thought seeps in early and is very damaging to girls. If God is a man, and “He” is everything that is good and superior, it is easy to conclude that we as women are, in fact, beneath men. Whether you practice a religion or not, this still has a profound effect on our collective thinking.

Despite 15 years as a feminist, it never dawned on me to question my family and religious upbringing.  We were, by all accounts, “normal”. Compared to many other people, I really didn’t have much to complain about. So while I learned about and rallied against the systematic oppression of women, I did not correlate my family and faith to the roots of my own.

I now believe that it is these much engrained patriarchal systems that continue to keep women as a whole down. This is a very hard thing to face. It is painful to think that your own family was complicit in holding you back.  

I thought I was ‘over’ my conditioning to be quiet, submissive and subservient. Giving birth to my own daughter made me realize that was not the case. I have raised my daughter the opposite way of my patriarchal upbringing. It is often she who reminds me of my true essence. In her, I get a glimpse of what was squelched during my own childhood.

As I recognize the Goddess in both of us, it is at once heartbreaking, healing and delightful. I often mourn for the girl that I was; I wish I could remember who she was before she was kidnapped and replaced with someone more amenable. 

My sort of upbringing is not a thing of the past. I would argue, to some degree, this is still how we are raising most girls the world over.

After my daughter was born, I began studying women’s history and the suppression of the Divine Feminine in all faith traditions. I wrote a children’s book called The Girl God which describes some of that journey with my daughter.

I think as young girls, we begin to talk ourselves into a male image of God, when in reality it is completely unnatural to us. As Judy Chicago reminds us, “In the beginning, the feminine principle was seen as the fundamental cosmic force.  All ancient peoples believed that the world was created by a female Deity.”

I saw this very clearly one day in talking with my daughter. She could not relate to a male image of God. But when I asked her about a “Girl God,” she lit up!

When we recognize, both individually and collectively, our value as women, the world will change. The image of a masculine God is built on patriarchy, which is a vision of control through violence, whether actual or implied. When we honor the divine feminine, beating a woman becomes as unacceptable as burning down a church or a mosque. When we return to the divine feminine, rape will become inconceivable.

How can you pillage what is sacred?

When we return to the divine feminine, we will stop trying to “save” women in other countries and realize that we have problems of our own to conquer. We will realize that each of us is capable of becoming our own savior. We will re-discover our rich herstory. We will come together as equals and change the world together.

Our collective spirituality has largely been tainted to fit the needs of men and those in power. This has had a profound effect on the self-esteem of girls and the women they become. This negative influence can be seen in their life choices, partners and whether or not they will have financial security for the rest of their lives.

It need not be this way.

Imagine you have to cross an old, crumbling bridge every day to get to the market for food.  Every time you cross the bridge, you lose a part of yourself, but if you want to eat, you still have to do it on a regular basis to obtain food. Over time, you may become more efficient, making the journey once a week and making the most of what you have. It still bothers you that it is necessary, but you feel you have no other choice. When you finally open up about your struggle, you realize that most of the others are doing the same thing, and are equally frustrated. One day, an old crone shows you a beautiful new path that is quicker and more scenic. You no longer have to worry about the bridge collapsing under your feet as you walk across. While you’re thrilled to learn this, you wonder why someone didn’t tell you about it earlier.

My hope is that my daughter, and future generations, will not have to cross the same rickety bridge as many times as I did.

We must radically change how girls are raised from birth. It’s so much easier than this never-ending un-doing many women seem to be stuck in. We don’t need more “self-help”; we need to come back to who we were.

May all women on the journey to cronehood stand at the entrance of the broken bridges and shout, “No more.”

May we break down the bridges that lead to pain and suffering; rebuilding new ones that inspire joy and community.

May each of us reclaim the Goddess within.

 

Trista Hendren is the author of The Girl God series. You can read more about her projects at www.thegirlgod.com.

 

Paintings by Elisabeth Slettnes, illustrator of The Girl God series.

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