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One of the most satisfying rewards of being a life coach is helping girls and women see how skilled, resourceful, fair, and creative they are. In our culture, and in most cultures around the world, girls and women internalize the message of inferiority from the patriarchal systems that conflate authority with maleness. One look at a list of presidents, CEOs, religious leaders, and judges proves this. In the west, we have done great work in dismantling the beliefs that women and girls are less than, but as current “run like a girl” campaigns show, this work is generational and ongoing. I created this blog to explore how energy psychology, more specifically Emotional Freedom Techniques or tapping, enriches and empowers its users. One of the side effects of a year-and-a-half of diverse explorations is a growing sense of my own resourcefulness, flexibility, and commitment to social justice issues. When I look around at my age cohorts – the vanguard of the Baby Boomers – and at our spiritual mothers, I see Maya Angelou, Vandana Shiva, Frida Kahlo, Margaret Mead, Oprah Winfrey, Mary Oliver, Alice Walker, Mary Wollstonecraft, Toni Morrison, Madeleine Kunin, Rosa Parks, Virginia Woolf, Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, and countless others who continue to create the remarkable tapestry that is our collective feminist heritage. These are the women, alive and dead, who fuel the remarkable work of creating a world hospitable to diversity, intelligence, creativity, and fairness. It is a world I give thanks for every day.
This post is personal and celebratory. If every girl and woman in the world participated in celebrating girls and women, we would create an ever expanding spiral of acknowledgement, from the earliest times to those seeds, bursting with purpose and love, waiting to be birthed into a world where all girls and women live in joy, freedom, purpose, and power. To participate in this International Women’s Day, I offer the following personal celebration of but a few of the girls and women who have deepened my understanding of just how resourceful, intelligent, and empowering our global tribe of women and girls is.
I want to begin my celebration with my daughter, Katharine Buchan, and all the dedicated young women I’ve met in my classes and practice. Committed to social justice in all its forms, the young women in my life give me great hope for our collective future. Next I want to honour two young women I don’t know personally, but who have impacted all our lives. Malala Yousafzai and Emma Watson have publicly engaged in the positive work of empowering girls and women through education. My personal educational inspiration, Ann Pullen, was a young high school English teacher who saw something in me I could not yet see in myself and whose naming of my hunger for knowledge and social justice has made all the difference in my life. And so, for girls and women everywhere doing the formal and informal work of educating themselves and their communities, I tap a joyful round of gratitude for all the hungry minds activating, the discerning hearts engaging, and the widening roads leading to social justice.
I move now to celebrate the feminist who most influenced my early adult years. Because I was an English major at the time, reading Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch galvanized my awareness of injustice in the academy. A male bastion if ever there was one, I encountered the literary equivalent of female genocide in all my courses. As a young woman in my twenties, I found Mary Wollstonecraft, Virginia Woolf, and Greer on my own. We were served liberal doses of Jane Austen, because her works were and are a cash cow for male academicians who disseminate academic theory rather than create worlds as Austen herself did. Virginia Woolf’s magnificent A Room of One’s Own and Three Guineas were conspicuously absent from my first year Philosophy seminar, as was Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women. I wondered about this at the time, but it wasn’t until I read Eunuch that I understood women had been scrupulously edited out of academic philosophical, literary, and historical discussion.
Greer, to this day, is a highly controversial figure. Many fourth wave feminists dismiss Greer outright because of her nineteen seventies perspective on many issues. For a glimpse at the controversies around her work, visit http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jan/26/germaine-greer-female-eunuch-feminists-influence
What younger feminists miss in their critique of Greer’s work is the context of the late sixties and early seventies. As a discontented married undergraduate experiencing sexism at home and at university, I needed Greer’s knowledge and perspective to understand my experience. I had my very own version of a Raging Grandma in the person of my maternal grandmother, Ann Woodall Durst. who believed passionately in women’s rights, but who, like me, lacked the historic arc in which to fit current injustice as well as the vocabulary to name these injustices. Recently, on the magnificent PBS six-part series Makers: Women Who Make America, I heard Oprah Winfrey describe how, in 1976, she earned $22,000 while her male co-host earned $50,000 for doing exactly the same job. Women in every profession were discriminated against because we were not white men with wives and children to support. Many of us were infantalized by male bosses . . . “you are soooo cute when you’re mad” . . . and many of us were the targets of unrelenting sexual harassment which, at the time, was not illegal. We had the vote, but we had not yet deconstructed the systemic sexism we lived with on a daily basis that made that vote irrelevant.
Reading Greer’s energetic and unapologetic indictment of sexism was like suddenly discovering my membership in a family I didn’t know I had. Unlike many women, I lived in an all female household and so hadn’t suffered the indignities of sexual predation or male privilege at home, for me epitomized by the phrase . . .”Don’t sit in your father’s chair.” My childhood was free of female belittlement; when I finally met it, it enraged me, and yet I had know idea how to address it. Greer, in broad brush strokes, helped me to find my way. As I read her irreverent polemic – my copy had a female torso hanging from something like a clothes line that demanded the reader try Greer’s version of femaleness on – I laughed, shrieked, and wept, and ever so slowly, learned to parse the double-speak that is systemic sexism. When I had finished reading her wild view on “the woman situation” I knew I’d jumped off a very high board and had better start looking for the water below. I found it, mostly in literature and close female friendships.
In the years following my initiation by Greer’s special fire, I continued to read and grow in my understanding of feminism and patriarchy – what Riane Eisler calls dominator cultures. I did my best to define myself, eschew others’ ideas of the ideal Jane, and set off for parts unknown. Mine has been an exciting journey, sometimes painful, sometimes exhilarating, always in the company of my actual and spiritual grandmothers, mothers, sisters, daughters, and granddaughters, company that makes the journey deeply fulfilling. In this spirit of self determination, I am discontinuing my weekly blog posts to devote time to another writing project but will, from time to time, dip into this tapping world to post something I hope will empower readers as they evolve into more authentic versions of themselves.
On this International Women’s Day, I cannot stress enough the importance of empowerment. Tapping more than any other modality helps us to deconstruct the intellectual and emotional prisons that patriarchy needs to thrive; Tapping then supports us in releasing all the negative beliefs we’ve absorbed from this system during our lives. The most exciting result of a fairly regular tapping practice is the empowerment that insists we define ourselves, live life on our own terms, and become involved in the exciting work of creating positive change for everyone.
Until the next time . . .
Jane Buchan, MA, AAMET Advanced Practitioner, firstname.lastname@example.org, 802-533-9277
Jane is a Life Coach specializing in neutralizing trauma and cultural constructs to support positive life choices and activism at every age. To engage her coaching services, please contact Jane by phone or email.