Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Connections between feminism, spirituality, the environment & social justice

An excerpt from my interview with Wiser.org as their featured "Woman of the Week".

The themes discussed in The Girl God also stemmed from Trista’s own spiritual journey, which has led her to identify as a Muslim-Christian feminist. Accordingly, she has given a lot of thought to what it means to be a feminist of faith.

People are often puzzled about my Muslim faith, especially now that I am working with the divine feminine. I don’t relate as strongly to Christianity anymore, but it did encapsulate the first 20 years of my life, so I don’t want to leave it out either. 

I think within feminism there is a feeling that faith doesn’t belong there. Patriarchal faith has often been oppressive to women. That said, the majority of people around the world identify with a faith tradition and most of them will never leave that faith.

I believe we have to accept people where they are. When you start putting down certain faith traditions, you are essentially ostracizing and isolating other women.

I happen to be someone who believes in one God, who is female. I’m a very hard person to put into one box, but I have a feeling many of us are like this when we refuse to stay in our “place.” Respect of all women and faith traditions is very important to me and is why I made The Girl God a multi-faith book.

I would like to see more connections made between women of faith and feminists. We cannot afford to be at odds with each other.

When asked why she thought the idea of a female deity is not accepted in mainstream society, she remarked that it might be because society does not value women, even in the most literal sense. 

Women still own only 1% of the world’s wealth. That is staggering.

Our ideas around money and worth are very important because they often trap women and girls into horrendous abuse. When females feel dependent and act on the submissive role that they have been raised with, the result is women who do not act in their own best interest. Women and girls have to be empowered before they can become equal, financially or otherwise.

Once they are empowered, they will not be abused as they are now. There are obvious power structures in place that are preventing this. I believe the “fear” of the divine feminine is a way to hold women back.

Trista stressed that in order to create a society where women are empowered, they first need to be respected and honored instead of devalued.

I have been a feminist for 20 years. It is a bit depressing to realize how many things are still the same. You can literally read poems and essays from the 70s and 80s and they seem just as relevant today.

One pertinent example is June Jordan’s “A Poem About My Rights.” In order to change the world, we have to go back to our roots.

There was a time when women were sacred. We have lost that on a collective level. You don’t rape the sacred. You don’t abuse the sacred. You honor Her.

When you honor something or someone, you don’t take more than you need or more than your fair share. Women have been giving more than their fair share in almost every aspect of life for at least 2,000 years.

She also extended this idea to humanity’s relationship with the earth, and sees respect for women and for our planet as intertwined issues.

Humanity on the whole has been taking without giving back. We can’t continue along that path without destroying ourselves and the earth. I see many connections between women and the earth. I don’t think we can honor and respect one without the other. When I started to honor myself, I began acting on my environmental ideals. 

One example I use is hair dye. I stopped dying my hair last year because I realized I was poisoning the earth. I was also poisoning the people who made this toxic product. I was also poisoning myself every time I colored my hair. And the crazy thing is that silver hair is actually a sign of wisdom. Why are most women so eager to hide a symbol of their intelligence at such a high all-around cost?

Sometimes I think people like the idea of environmentalism or feminism, but they don’t want to go all the way with either concept. The way I see it, we are at a tipping point with both. Either we make radical changes or we will see even more violence against women and girls. We will see the earth destroyed. And with environmental destruction, it is often poor women and children of color who pay the highest price. 

Read the full interview at wiser.org.

Special thanks to Amy Logan for nominating me to Wiser's Woman of the Week. 

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