Today is Martin Luther King Day. An auspicious day before Obama’s inauguration. Hope is the magical word in the air.
I spent most of this morning reading part of the book The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd (who also wrote The Secret Life of Bees which just came out as a movie this past fall). The book is about the author’s journey to find and embrace the Sacred Feminine in her life as a wife, mother, Christian writer and member of a Baptist Church in Georgia. She’s a brilliant writer and thoroughly researched feminist theory and some of the major feminist writers. I wanted to read this book to better understand her journey to see how it might have paralleled part of my journey leaving the Catholic Church and eventually finding a Cherokee Medicine Woman as a teacher.
Sue Monk Kidd sums up her journey as one that moved through fear, anger, healing, and transformation of her awakening.
I’m only half way through the book now and am really wondering if she will leave her Baptist Church and whether her marriage will survive her awakening and commitment to her authentic feminine soul. We’ll see….
Sue Monk Kidd writes in several sections about the subordination of women in society and the Christian Church. She brings up the various ways that women are abused, encouraged to be silent, supposed to only play a support role to the man in their life, etc.
She also tells the story of the Greek Myth of Philomela and how a woman is raped by her brother-in-law, and then is silenced by the man as he cuts her tongue out and places her in a castle tower. Philomela eventually is able to weave her story into a tapestry and communicate to her sister what happened.
Kidd writes “the myth is about the loss of women’s voices. It suggests that the source of female silence is the rape of the feminine–the devaluation and violation of femaleness. It suggests that when women protest this violation, their voices are frequently squelched through ridicule, sanction, and fear of reprisal. In the public arena, at church, work and home, women’s tongues are often silenced when we dare to speak our anger, truths, and visions.” (p. 58, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter)
I read this section in Kidd’s book and needed to take a break from the book. It is MLK Day and I wanted to do something to celebrate it. So I went to a Jazz concert at a Baptist Church near my neighborhood. I knew one of the performers, Lorraine Whittlesey who was performing with a well-known bead artist in Baltimore named Joyce Scott http://www.mobilia-gallery.com/artists/jscott/
One never knows what adventures may be found around the corner. In this case, I ended up not hearing my friend perform with Joyce Scott, but talking a little with Joyce Scott and perusing a gallery booklet of a current show that she has up in Baltimore at the Goya Gallery. Joyce is brilliant with her bead work and is known for creating pieces that really provoke. She’s not afraid to push us on politics, race, any sensitive issue that she is inspired by.
Well, in that gallery booklet was a photograph of a figure made of dark beads, a woman figure lying back on her arms with her legs outstretched and open. There is a gush of red beads coming out of her vagina that create a pool between the legs. The woman has just been raped. The piece refers to Darfur.
I was stunned seeing that photo of the piece. I need to go to the Goya Gallery and see the whole show. But what really struck me was Scott’s directness and creativity. I can read about the rapes in a newspaper article and it all seems so distant and unconnected to my life (much as it is not, in truth). But to see it graphically portrayed in her clever beadwork hit me deeply, so much so that I could not put it out of my head the whole way home and now I’m blogging about it.
That woman is me. That woman is all of us. That woman who lies there on the ground in Darfur is me and all of my sisters–whether blood sisters or not–being violated again and again. Except what has raped me and all the other women in our culture is more subtle. As Sue Monk Kidd wrote about our being silenced and subordinated over the ages in our patriarchal society. Our souls being drained from us through ongoing disempowerment. The list goes on. In Darfur it is very extreme and physical. And awful, awful.
Yet, we as women all can and need to find the courage of Sue Monk Kidd and Joyce Scott to awaken ourselves and those around us, so we can regain our voice and protect ourselves physically and emotionally. And learn to embrace our deepest feminine soul space. For I know the Earth, Earth Mother, is calling us to do this. For the healing. Our healing. Healing the planet. Yes, even healing the men who are the perpetrators. It is time to bring balance back. To bring the Divine Feminine back into our lives and our culture.
It is time. And as Obama said during his campaign, “Yes, We Can.”