The following is a chapter from Money, Sex, Power & Faith.
“Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.”
– Oscar Wilde
There are some who say there is a battle between the sexes, and judging from the way our civilization has been developed, it does appear that men have had the upper hand for quite a long time. Nevertheless, although they have been largely considered somewhat of a second class citizen throughout our known human history, women are nowhere near finished fighting. Yet the battle in our society isn’t merely between the sexes, but largely about sex in general.
Although Sigmund Freud has often been considered to be obsessed with sex, as many of us are, albeit not always as vocal about it, as the father of human psychology, it was his contention that “The behavior of a human being in sexual matters is often a prototype for the whole of his other modes of reaction in life.” Because we seem to be preternaturally imbalanced in regards to sexuality, our relationship to sex has had some incontrovertible effects on the way society has been established. If we truly seek to develop a more balanced and sustainable system in which humans can coexist, we’re going to have to look at our relationship with sex and the limitations which have caused us so much consternation over these last several thousand years.
As Dan Brown wrote in his novel The Da Vinci Code, “The ancients envisioned their world in two halves – masculine and feminine. Their gods and goddesses worked to keep a balance of power. Yin and Yang. When male and female were balanced, there was harmony in the world. When they were unbalanced there was chaos.”
Unfortunately, for the entirety of our known civilization, we have been incredibly imbalanced. For millennia, men have dominated over women, in many cultures not even granting them the right to speak in public, and to this day, there are places in the world where women are still forbidden to even learn to read. It’s astonishing to consider, of the roughly 5,000 years of recorded human history, women have only had a voice in the public discourse for about 2% of it.
While there have been queens, empresses, and ladies of exception, by and large, women have been relegated to keeping quiet and making babies while men have made decisions and money. As Riane Eisler writes in The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics, “Many cultural stories worldwide present the domination system as the only human alternative. Fairy tales romanticize the rule of kings and queens over ‘common people.’ Classics such as Homer’s Illiad and Shakespeare’s kings trilogy romanticize ‘heroic violence.’ Many religious stories present man’s control, even ownership, of women as normal and moral.”
Due to this imbalance, we have missed out on a lot of input that could have possibly decreased much of the human suffering we have developed through our masculine myopia over the years. Fortunately, slowly but surely, we as a people are starting to wake up to the virtues the sacred feminine has to offer, and perhaps by offering more respect than has been shown to the fairer sex throughout our history, we will be able to find a more comfortable relationship with sex at large.
Sex, although it was largely branded as taboo early on in the Judeo/Christian/Islamic tradition, has become one of the most popular, yet misunderstood, subjects in our culture. Our inability to come to healthy terms with this aspect of our being based on these impositions of thought has resulted in a plethora of symptoms indicative of our unhealthy relationship with sex and sexuality. Throughout the world, we are still finding ways to deal with the blow-back from its condemnation as we struggle to find solutions to these problems of prostitution, abortion, genital manipulation, sex-trafficking, rape, sexually transmitted diseases, pornography, equality, and other effects of our misunderstanding.
Fortunately, humanity is still a work in progress, and our culture has every opportunity to reach for greater understanding. Should we be able to end this battle between these two parts of our being and find the balance we seek, perhaps we can gain a greater sense of power over our lives again, and live in the harmony of which we all dream.