Category: Women’s liberation


Time to Be Human: Gender Liberation and the Creation of a New Culture

28th April

The United Nations declared 1976-1985 the Decade of Women, which created an international consensus on the importance of women’s political and social equality. The African Women’s Decade began in 2010. And in the United States, analysts have called 1992, 2012, and 2013 the Year of the Woman. For the last forty-plus years, since the student revolts of the ‘68 generation, media pundits, activists, and cultural savants have repeatedly announced that women have toppled male hegemony. Recent books, even those written by men such as The Athena Doctrine, explain that women’s ways of thinking or leading will lead to greater success in our highly interdependent, networked world.

It’s now women’s time. Finally. After many, many millennia of male domination, patriarchy is dying and women are stepping forward. Let’s heave a big sigh of relief and embrace the new era of women….

Well, I … Read More »


Happiness and Having It All

13th August

Anne-Marie Slaughter‘s recent article in the Atlantic,“Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” has once again raised in public a question that has been privately vexing women for the past several decades (…or longer): How can we pursue our talents and contribute to culture significantly and be the devoted mothers that so many educated women want to be?

How do we slay this dragon? Slaughter, who should get many kudos for her frank presentation of the whole megillah of this dilemma for women at the highest echelons, falters here. Sure, I agree when she says that we need new values to make this work. But which values? The tricky thing is that there are two competing value sets from the two spheres of modern life: public (business and politics) for men and private (children and home) for women. The private sphere’s system … Read More »


Women’s History Month? What about “Women Making History Month”?

13th March

March is Women’s History Month. Doesn’t that sound dreadfully boring, like some required course from college? These thirty-one days actually commemorate women’s courageous struggles for self-determination and justice but with that almost academic label on it, it all seems rather, well, passé. History, obviously, is all in the past. So, what if we re-named March “Women Making History Month”? Because this month in 2012, we certainly have some history-making to do.

These placid and well-intentioned commemorations blunt the restless spirit that we are supposed to be celebrating. It’s the same with International Women’s Day, March 8. We note this day in history because of a series of revolts in the first decade of the 20th century by women garment workers who went on strike against brutal working conditions. In the former Soviet bloc countries, this day morphed from being a rallying … Read More »



The Ultimate Spiritual Practice for Women

Posted by Elizabeth Debold in Blog, Uncategorized, Women's liberation. 27 comments

6th December

When you think about women and spiritual practice, what pops into your mind? Leggy ladies in tights doing a downward dog? Wafty women in white flowing robes dancing among flickering candles? Pop cultural images of women interested in spirituality often imply that the goal of spiritual practice for women is to become hyperfeminine. (Click for a send up of the “Yoga Girl” image.) Yoga or sacred dance are beautiful, and we certainly need more beauty in the world. And yoga can lead to significant transformation—the inspiring story of Ana Forrest is just one testament to that—but too few of us set our sights on real, tangible, spiritual evolution as the goal of our practice. Becoming more fit and calm and lovely is fine. But becoming more femme is hardly a transformation that’s going to rock the world. As Ken Wilber … Read More »



SlutWalks: Feeling Free vs. Being Free

Posted by Elizabeth Debold in Blog, Culture, Feminism, Women's liberation. 20 comments

15th October

In January, Toronto police constable Michael Sanguinetti made a gaffe that has sparked a worldwide protest among young women and their supporters. Sanguinetti was speaking about women’s safety at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School when he suggested that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” There you have it: that old canard that women provoke rape and sexual assault. (A colleague told me that overalls happen to be the garment that attracts rapists most often–I don’t know if it’s true or where she heard that but apparently it’s because they are easy to get off quickly. Not because they are so alluring…) Two women in Toronto responded immediately–calling for a “SlutWalk” to protest the prevalence of blame-the-victim attitudes that make women’s sexuality such an area of inner and outer conflict. The idea has caught … Read More »



For the 100th Anniversary of Int’l Women’s Day

Posted by Elizabeth Debold in Blog, Culture, Feminism, Uncategorized, women, Women's liberation. 1 Comment

8th March

As our sisters in Egypt risked their lives by marching in Tahrir Square today, it made me think about those of us in the West who have already won the right to walk where we please, say what we want, and pretty much do want we want with our lives. Even so, the changes here have been relatively recent, and the patterns in our psyches to take the subordinate position and to hold onto our sense of having been wronged, victimized, are still so strong. Somehow I can’t help but think that our sisters in Egypt would want us to step beyond these patterns and take up the responsibility that comes with opportunity. We are very much missing at the top.

So, while I find the video below very powerful–and realize that many women even in the West are struggling for … Read More »


A Feminist who has a Male Spiritual Teacher?

25th March

Fourteen years ago, I was forty years old, had recently received my doctorate from Harvard where I’d worked with Carol Gilligan in a small research collective that was charting new developmental pathways for girls and women, and had co-authored a bestselling book about how to transform the mother-daughter relationship in the hopes that the next generations of women could grow into fullness and power. While I couldn’t say that it was consciously intentional, my life was an almost systematic search for the keys that would unleash new potentials in women, and between women and men, that would transform our culture. I started with feminist activism and consciousness raising, moved to psychotherapy, tried assertiveness and other forms of skill-building training, and then to the dynamics of human development. Where was the lynchpin? I asked. How could true partnership and equality between the sexes become a living reality? … Read More »


In Honor of the Extraordinary, Courageous, and Obstreperous Mary Daly

Posted by Elizabeth Debold in Blog, Culture, Feminism, women, Women's liberation. 1 Comment

14th February

I’ve been very remiss in not noting Mary Daly’s passing on January 6, 2009. The New York Times did a very respectful obituary, noting the significance of her contribution to feminist and religious thought. Daly, in case you don’t know her, was a powerful theologian. One of the first women to study theology and, from the inside of a Roman Catholic institution, to take apart the dominant idea of God as male. Her 1973 classic, “Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation,” blew the Church doors off and sent a fresh wind through the old sacraments. I was actually surprised at the respect that the Times showed to her–because Daly, a radical lesbian feminist, pushed her points so far that she made it easy to be dismissed by the status quo. But that would be a mistake–anyone … Read More »


The Eros (Wo)manifesto

9th July

This is a manifesto, or you could call it a manifesta, or, better yet, a (wo)manifesto for all women who want to shoulder the responsibility to evolve culture and consciousness. Who sense the possibility of a new way of living, free of the roles and limitations that have held us in ways of being that stretch back to the beginning of time. Who have a growing hunger for something far deeper, freer, more dignified than anything that our culture has offered in the last many millennia. This is a (wo)manifesto for the future that is ours to create.

Creation is the realm of Eros. No, I don’t mean eros as in erotic. That is nothing new for women–being erotified, objectified, by men and, increasingly, by ourselves. Using our bodies as our selves, too much the measure of who we think we … Read More »





MOST RECENT POSTS

From pop culture to politics, sexuality to spirituality, whatever and what-have-you, I'm commenting on it, hashing out my own thinking on the upward trends and troubles of our times. Please join in with a comment!

Beyond Polarity: A New Encounter between Women and Men

The day after my very first appearance on New York cable TV—it was the 80s, so cable was new and small—I got...

What Makes a Truly Global Education?

In the middle of nothing—that is, nothing but sand stretching in every direction—there is a peculiar oasis. It has huge palm trees with thick...

Time to Be Human: Gender Liberation and the Creation of a New Culture

The United Nations declared 1976-1985 the Decade of Women, which created an international consensus on the importance of women’s political and social equality. The...