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U.S. 2018: For Women who are Feeling like Livestock

Posted Sept. 26, 2018

Per Gillian Flynn: “They don’t care about us enough to hate us. We are simply a form of livestock.”’
Tweeted by Sarah Kendzior re “endless wave of revelations about sexual assault”

In Time magazine, December 2017:
Gillian Flynn: A Howl 

Sarah Kendzior is an expert on Central Asian autocracies and has been warning us about Trump, Russia, the media, kleptocracies, etc., for at least two years. She has been tireless in that endeavor, sharing many other experts’ clear-eyed takes on our current American path. Sometimes she re-tweets things multiple times (her own Tweets or others) because they are so pithy, accurate, evergreen, and sometimes it takes us a few repetitions to get it.

Yesterday she retweeted the quote by Gillian Flynn, which she’d already retweeted at least two times, commenting (again) “I’ll never get this Gillian Flynn quote out of my mind, because it’s true.” For some reason the word “never” sent me back to the original column, which was very painful, as were many of the replies on Twitter to Sarah’s re-tweet. For Sarah, the new awareness just seemed to be a new truth that she was examining over and over in order to decide where it should be filed in  her woman’s toolbox of knowledge and wisdom. Painful, perhaps, but not soul-destroying.

For Gillian Flynn this new awareness (shared publicly in December 2017)  seemed to indicate a deeper pain, a pain that other women shared (based on the Twitter replies) and that I also shared at one time—the pain of feeling, as a woman, existentially trapped by nature.

Flynn may have, by now, moved beyond the initial feeling. I can confirm that getting past that trapped feeling can be done, although it took me many years. For me, with no internet at the time, it was done through solitary study of all kinds–mostly books and articles.

In the interest of helping women who are still feeling or newly feeling existentially trapped–as if it is nature’s design to make women feel shamed, second-class, like livestock—here are some of the resources that helped me, as well as a few more recent ones that only confirm women’s existential value. All of these have helped me to understand how it isn’t nature’s design for women to feel like livestock. Many of these resources make clear that in fact nature’s design is just the opposite. See list below.


The next question is, then what do we do about it? Some of these resources have answers. All of them do what Kim Chernin asked for years ago: “I needed someone who’d been sticking up for the female side from the beginning.” (Reinventing Eve: Modern Woman in Search of Herself, 1987)

At the age of 67 I don’t pretend to understand everything about life, about so much unnecessary suffering, or about men. But I do understand myself (more or less) and women’s central role to the species. As Kay Cordell Whitaker’s teacher told her: “Women are the center.” Period. Healthy cultures get built on that foundation—or they don’t get built.

I now put much of my own energy into promoting “women’s public authority”. While American women have been working on equality with men, they forgot to promote important differences that would actually make a difference between a peaceful, healthy society and a nasty, destructive one.

Mostly I share information about the Iroquois League—which was the precursor to the U.S. Constitution—and which codified women’s public authority almost 900 years ago, in ways many American women haven’t yet imagined. This seems to be especially true for women trained in the Abrahamic religions (Judeo-Christian-Islamic). There are other versions of human culture than this nasty, Puritanical, patriarchal one.

I might also suggest that, as we try to imagine a different world than the one we’re living in right now, American women should consider that the isolated nuclear family is really an aberration in human culture. For the most part, it seems to be a negative aberration. Women benefit from living more communally. There is not just one model.

PS re: Education of males in American culture (of particular interest today, Sept. 26, 2018, in the midst of the hearings on Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court justice):

Gillian Flynn’s article ends with her suggestion for ending the treatment of women as livestock: educate our boys. I don’t disagree with the general idea, although I believe it was Adrienne Rich (many years ago) who gave the lie to that method in terms of a one-on-one project—one mother, one son. But current discussions about boys’ high schools, sports teams, etc., are certainly pointing to a collective discussion about how we educate boys. I support such discussions—at every level of our government and educational systems. And I support similar discussions on how we educate girls, how we see ourselves as women, and—most importantly—women’s public authority.


RESOURCES: “Sticking up for the Female Side from the Beginning”
Here are my suggestions for counteracting attacks on women’s personal authority and for promoting women’s public authority. (Most of these resources are non-denominational, earth-based, and plain spoken.)

A. Indigenous Wisdom from the Americas

BOOK:  Make a Beautiful Way: The Wisdom of Native American Women
ed. by Barbara Alice Mann (Prof. Humanities – Univ. of Toledo)
4 essays 2008

BOOK:  Daughters of Copper Woman
Northwest Coast Native myths & stories
by Anne Cameron  1981

Story of an American trained by S. American shamans
BOOK:  Reluctant Shaman, by Kay Cordell Whitaker (first book)  1991
BOOK:  Sacred Link, by Kay Cordell Whitaker (second book)  2005
Chapter 8: The Power of the Forbidden Fruit is all about women’s medicines (women’s powers)

VIDEO:  Listen to your Mother   11 minutes
by Barbara Alice Mann
A (M)otherworld is Possible: Two Feminist Visions: Matriarchal Studies and the Gift Paradigm
May 2012

SPEECH:  Rematriation of the Truth
by Barbara Alice Mann (Bear clan, Ohio Seneca)  2011
“‘Rematriation’” retools culture in terms of matriarchal giving. Regarding speech, it means that the Gift of Breath replicates reality; it does not invent some myth convenient to bullies.”

ARTICLE:  I Stand with you against the Disorder
by Jeanette Armstrong
YES Magazine, 2005

BLOG:  In Case of Constitutional Crisis….Start Here: Great Law of Peace
by Debbie Hillman  2018
Details and Native resources about the Iroquois Constitution


B. Black Women in the U.S.
BOOK:  I know why the Caged Bird Sings
by Maya Angelou  1969
Spoiler alert:  The punchline is: “Because it must.”

BOOK:  How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective
ed., Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor  2017


C. Women’s Spiritual Stories and Groups
BOOK:  Feminine Face of God: the unfolding of the sacred in women
by Sherry Ruth Anderson and Patricia Hopkins 1991
interviews and narrative

BOOK:  Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Wisdom: The Feminine Face of Awakening
interviews of women spiritual teachers
by Rita Marie Robinson  2007

BOOK:  Face to Face: Women Writers on Faith, Mysticism, and Awakening
ed. by Linda Hogan & Brenda Peterson  2004

ONLINE COMMUNITY:  Net of Light: Grandmothers Speak
Started by a therapist who started channeling a council of grandmothers in 1997.
Three books filled with the grandmothers’ visitations.
International organization that is appealing to all sorts of women (and men).
Sign up for occasional newsletter with positive messages.
Occasional gatherings in US and worldwide.

Sept. 2018 Newsletter from Net of Light
The Great Mother is back….


D. Scholars of Matriarchies and Elderwomen
CONFERENCE VIDEOS:  The Maternal Roots of the Gift Economy Conference
2015 (some are more scholarly than others, international)

ARTICLE:  Wisdom Woman, Elderwoman, Crone: Custodian of Female Power
by Roslyne Sophia Breillat  2018
Part One
Part Two
Featured in Wise Woman Herbal E-zine with Susun Weed
Wise Woman Center, NY