Closing the Gender Gap: An Inside Perspective

eyes-141363_1280-1024x655The slow, but real global progress in the numbers of women attaining positions of economic and political power and responsibility, could tempt us to conclude that the gender gap is closing. And yet, I would contend that if we focus only on the external — on gender equality as a measure of the numbers of women having reached positions long dominated by men — we are missing the point.

Let me explain. More than 60 years ago, Indian yogi Sri Aurobindo declared that, “If there is to be a future, it will wear the crown of feminine design.” This emphasis on feminine design, offers us an interesting insight. It invites us to shift our focus from women to the feminine, from the external, to the internal. From seeing gender equality as a measure of the opportunities given to women respective to men, to understanding it as the balance in the masculine and feminine energies at play within ourselves.

This shift in perspective is critical and enlightening. It suggests that the prevalent subjugation of women in many parts of the world is only possible because of our internal imbalance when it comes to the feminine. It is a symptom, which indicates the extent to which most of us have been conditioned to view everything female and feminine as being worth less than their male or masculine counterparts.

This applies not only to the fact of being a woman, but also to the feminine qualities within us: our intuition, our capacity to feel, connect, collaborate and empathize, all of which are deemed less valuable than our masculine qualities of rational thinking, analysis, action and control.

Instead of embracing these as complementary aspects of our being, we have raised one half on a pedestal and built our societies on top of it. The resulting dismissal of the feminine is alive and well. It is the subconscious voice that classifies as not quite good enough whatever a woman does, and any feminine behaviors and attitudes, which deviate from the blueprint of what is considered worthwhile on the road to success and recognition.

This internalized gender hierarchy is so subtle and so pervasive that most of us don’t even know how strongly we subscribe to it. And when we open our eyes to it, we prefer to deny it, rather than have the courage to consciously reclaim our whole selves, by cleaning out our inner structures and core beliefs from centuries of conditioning.

There is more: this subdual of and disconnection from the inner feminine, has lead not only to the pervasive abuse and domination of women’s bodies, but also to the abuse and domination of our planet, the source of life par excellence.

How could it otherwise be possible for us to participate in a system built on infinite growth and consumption, whereby it is justifiable to plunder the resources of the Earth, without giving our planet sufficient time to restore the soil, replenish the aquifers, and regrow the forests, all of which constitute our most basic life-support system?

There is no doubt — as long as we are able to extricate ourselves from the grip of denial – that we are at a point in history, where the future will be very different from what we have known. And for many living beings, there will be no future at all. In this age of accelerating environmental destruction and economic collapse, we are called to re-think, re-feel, and re-design our connection and relationship with all of life.

And I would contend that all of it hinges on a critical aspect: our capacity to reclaim the Feminine — from within. To close the inner gender gap and bring ourselves and the world back into balance, by embracing and equally valuing all aspects of our innermost selves.

This is the challenge for all of us — whether we happen to walk the Earth in the body of a woman or that of a man.

This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

  1 comment for “Closing the Gender Gap: An Inside Perspective

  1. November 12, 2014 at 23:19

    I commend Nicole Schwab on her patience, eloquence and well delivered insights relative to the complex issue of gender inequality. In my opinion she has done well to challenge all to look much deeper into the issue and it’s far reaching implications.

    In my assessment, gender inequality is a symptom. It is not unlike racism, greed, or the desire to control, dominate, or manipulate others. Regretfully, it also all too often tends to fall directly in line with a mentality that is able and willing to rationalize extreme injustices such as trading long-term environmental destruction for short-term economic gains or greater control.

    In the simplest of terms, gender inequality is a symptom of ignorance and complacency.

    When the effects of our policies and actions become so blatantly obvious as to revel the degree of social and environmental dis-ease and imbalances as we are experiencing all over the planet at this time it should be obvious that the way we have been thinking and acting as a societal whole is maladaptive, short-sighted, unhealthy, unsustainable, and most definitely not in the collective highest good.

    It is our foundational, subconscious thought processes which drive our actions and which therefore must come under review in order to create comprehensive solutions. This is to say that the intellect alone will not provide the most complete answers to our problems or the alleviation of dis-ease.

    To imagine that by simply replacing a male body type with that of a female body type in a position of economic and political power and responsibility would bring about positive, proactive change is incredibly naive. The reason being that the imbalances we are experiencing go far and beyond a simple matter physiology. Further, they tend also to go beyond the constraints of so-called mainstream philosophy and psychology both of which fall short in their explanations of the human mind and the nature of personal reality.

    Just as advancements in science have confirmed a far more complex, interconnected world than the one the majority of us studied within the standard educational systems, what we now know about the human mind and its relationship to our reality suggests it is time we literally re-think what it means to be human, regardless of gender.

    It must be fundamentally understood that there are masculine and feminine aspects of mind within both genders and while the mind can be trained or educated to emphasize certain traits or characteristics that the potential to expand one’s mind beyond its current operating system is innate and limitless.

    For the record, an optimally balanced, healthy, highly adaptive individual is one who tends to have awareness of, and who is able to actively integrate both masculine and feminine aspects of mind in a complimentary fashion and who utilizes this awareness as a key tool in their decision making processes.

    I firmly believe that the day will come when it is these individuals who are regarded as the most valuable and who represent the “norm” within our society. It shall be they who are seen as deserving of, and who are awarded the most important positions within our most respected organizations.

    Until such a time comes the challenge to us all remains the same as it has been since the days of the philosophers, statesmen and law-givers of ancient Greece. For it is they, the seven sages who are said to have laid the foundation for western culture, and who gathered in Delphi to inscribe in stone at the entry to its sacred oracle what might be regarded as the two most important words of all time: “KNOW THYSELF”.

    Jay Schumacher, CHt

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