Pour La Dignité de la Femme

Pour La Dignité de la Femme

Feminine qualities of leadership by Mrs. Ingrid Lindemann, president WFWP Germany

Feminine qualities of leadership

 

Feminine Qualities of Leadership

 

In Germany at present the discussion is about the topic 'women in leading positions', especially since the possibility of a woman candidate for the position of chancellor exists. The question is: 'What do we expect from a woman as chancellor?' And further'What do the people wish for from a woman in a leading position?'

 

Historical perspective

I first would like us to look at history.

Generally speaking history is mostly viewed from an andocentric perspective. In science and archeology, which is dealing with the beginnings of mankind, art of the ancient Stone Age is interpreted as a male hunting scenery. Symbols of masculinity were grouped in peripheral positions. This shows that women had an honored and significant role to fulfill.  Wall paintings and archeological finds from Siberia to Central Europe lead us to conclude that the concept of a higher femine deity existed. According to Riane Eisler (author of 'Kelch and Schwert') the predominant ideology of the earlier Stone Age was goniometric; the woman, represented by a deity in female form, took the central position. The decline of these ancient societies began with the invasions of the Indo-European nomadic peoples. They brought with them their war gods. The central concept of their system was their understanding that the power to take life was valued more than the power to give life. Consequently women were deprived of their decision-making authority and their spiritual authority. The new ruling elite was seeking to consolidate its power.

At the time of Jesus, inspired by the teachings of Jesus a movement started which included the beginnings for equal rights of women.. Jesus demonstrated through his example that women were to be respected; he treated them with equal value. This was scandalous for that time. In early Christendom women were given leading positions. Meetings took place in the homes of his female disciples. Jesus realization that a spiritual evolution could lead to fundamental changes of society through a new value system of female virtues (sympathy, caring, non-violence, altruistic etc love) was not be acceptable to the establishment.

In the following centuries androgenic systems and systems of partnership interchanged. Viewed from this historical perspective historians acknowledge that the present time is again an opportunity for social transformation as it was 2000yd ago. It astonishes how certain time periods seem to be repeating.

Everywhere throughout the world awareness of global responsibility for the creation is growing, everywhere activities for the promotion of peace are increasing. Obvious is people are seeking for the ideals of female virtues.

A wish from the viewpoint of a man

At the founding ceremony of WFWP in Germany Frankfurt, 24th March 1992, Dr Heiner Weber expressed:'When I heard of the initiative of the WFWP for the first time I was very pleased and hopeful. Whether we admit it or not, we men very often suffer in and because of our rather male dominated society. A positive and successful change can only come from the feminine side'.

With the beginning of the women movements at the end of the 18th century in Europe the male dominating thinking and practice of life have moved more to equality.

The endeavors of various women movements indicate that a more fundamental common value system is missing, values that can lead to a better acceptance and cooperation by men.

Dr Weber is referring to this when he stated: 'When I look at the aims of your WFWP according to the literature I have, then I can only congratulate you and conclude: this movement also needs men!'

But changes will only happen when we women take the 'feminine' into all walks of life. Women who only follow the old ways as men have will not change anything for the better.

Definition of feminine 

Before we go further with our topic I would like us to think little about the definition 'feminine'

Generally feminine is everything relating to the woman. In biology and medicine female is describing the gender. But in philosophy and ethics 'feminine' is also referred to as describing certain virtues, which are ascribed as characterizing women, e.g. the female gender. But they are not limited to this definition.

In Unification thought the difference is clearly defined: 'two human characteristics exist, male and female. Both have inner and outer, positivity and negativity, which are characteristics of their common origins. The difference between man and women is, man has additional masculine elements, which are missing in woman, and woman has additional unique feminine elements that are not present in man. The other positive and negative aspects of inner and outer are the same for both genders. Equally the inner nature of the human being is masculine and feminine'

This indicates that when we speak about the feminine characteristics in us, we do not only speak about something uniquely relating to us women but it is also present in all human beings, man and woman alike.

It seems that some cultures before us were much more aware about this.  If we study deeply the words of the stories in the Old Testament we discover some interesting and until now hidden aspects.

Friedrich Weinreb, author and professor of national economy and statistics, studied the sources of the old Jewish knowledge as he felt a personal connection because of his Chassidic origin.

In his book " God mother, the feminine side of God" ('Gott Mutter, die weibliche Seite Gottes' ) Weinreb associates female characteristics with our origin. He states 'God Lord' the translation of  'Lord' (German 'Herrgott') in Hebraic is female. Thus when I express 'Lord', I know simultaneously, the language, the word puts it into my mouth female God!'

 

A number of Gnostic writings refer to God as a dual entity, which unites masculine and feminine elements. Members of these Gnostic groups are praying to God the father and God the mother: 'From you, Father and through you, Mother, the two immortal names of the World Parents'.

Jesus describes God the Father primarily as one who cares for his children and fulfils their needs. In the old scriptures he addresses God with Abba, a childlike form of speech expressing childlike trust in his parents, God who one day will wipe away all their tears

 

Looking after children and taking care of their needs is an expression of the feminine, motherly aspect (of God).

 

Other religions also show that there are both aspects present in the source origin, in the source of all existence. For example in Taoism we see the principle of Ying and Yang.

 

The Christian cultural group refers to a statement made in the  Old Testament that God created Man in His own image, a man and a woman. There is no Patriarchy or Matriarchy ruling with  God but instead the Lord, our God, is One. He created Mankind which is essentially male and female.

 

So what are the feminine qualities and powers which lie within us?

 

On the 3rd March this year there was headline seen in the largest newspaper in Germany "The Times" which asked the question: What is feminine?" The editorial department covered this topic in four different articles and two full pages of pictures.

 

      Gertrude Lbbe-Wolff, Professor and since 2002 a judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court, said: "Every society profits if its citizens are capable of placing themselves in a position with perspectives which are not immediately related to their own. Many people see this quality as feminine.

      Ulrike Brandi, an artist, was of the opinion that the feminine view always includes all senses, and always one which listens.

      Barbara Unmig, a political scientist, refers one to the stamp feminine aspects can make on management style. Instead of being caught up in inefficient internal power clashes women promote co-operation, team work and networking. She also observes a different feminine reaction in situations where there is conflict.

 

      Margot Kmann, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran  national church in Hanover, said during this interview: "One special feminine point of view is clearly the way women perceive other people. Women much more often keep the overall living situation of their opposite number in mind. Women often need harmony around them more then men. I myself... would rather seek to achieve common perspectives,... because a position taken as the result of consensus often lasts very much longer than decisions taken by a single person on their own".

 

People often seek to solve conflicts through force since they simply do not have the capabilities to achieve a constructive solution to a conflict. These abilities have, in turn, their bases in experiencing a feeling of security, respect and love.

A non-violent conflict strategy as a means to achieve social  change is surely a feminine quality. This type of conflict resolution generates positive, transformative energy.  Gandhi called this "the power of truth".  Perhaps some of you know the appeal Pope Paul VI one time made to women in which he called upon them to: "Hold back the hand of man, you women, who might attempt to destroy human civilization!"

 

      A typical feminine way of experiencing things is a deep  emotional desire to satisfy the needs of another and to make other people happy. This attitude is an expression  of a mature, grown up, love which acts for the wellbeing of others.

This form of love can be observed most regularly in the history of mankind in the love of a mother for her child. In this temporarily symbiotic relationship the needs of the child awaken in the mother the desire to satisfy these needs.

 

Erich Fromm said: "The principle of motherhood is that of unconditional love. The mother does not love her children because they make her happy but because they are her children (or those of another woman).  Thus the love of a mother can also not be gained through "good behaviour" or lost through "bad behaviour".  A mother's love is grace and mercifulness. A father's love, on the other hand, is associated with fulfilment of various conditions; it depends on the performance and good behaviour of the child; the father most loves the child who is most similar to him, that is the one to whom he wishes to leave his possessions. A father's love is justness."

 

Men have been raised more to devalue the ability to react positively to the needs of another rather to have it confirmed. This patriarchal system of education and thinking has given rise to the wrong belief that "feminine" qualities can only be found in women.

 

According to these patriarchal ideas a man is devalued when he behaves thoughtfully. On the other hand Jesus promoted just such behaviour amongst men as was found with the merciful Samaritan or Pharisee and toll keeper in the temple and as he demonstrated this himself in an exemplary fashion by washing of the feet.

 

      Jesus promoted feminine values and virtues such as loving one's neighbour and even one's enemy, compassion, taking responsibility for each other, treating others as we would like to be treated, as the central point of his teachings. He preached based on the clear knowledge that spiritual evolution coming from this new values system will lead to a fundamental change in society.

Dr. Christa Mulak  said in this connection: "Something which appears to me much more important with Jesus than the fact that he was a man was his clearly verifiable appreciation of feminine qualities. This attitude can be taken as exemplary by both women and men in equal measure. Just as human beings can only come into being through man and woman together then also the godly or the divine can only come about through the polar unity of things masculine and things feminine."

Whatever we may think about Jesus, whether we see him as a prophet, philosopher, Messiah, preacher of his day or, as the Jews believe, as a rabbi, his view and vision is still valid to this very day and must be realised.

 

One further feminine quality has been described so beautifully by Weinreb in his book that I do not want to keep it from you: "God created from His being, that is from His femininity, since His being is, according to the language used, also his femininity. He gives and ladles out, just as one would pull a bucket out of a well, into a trough, a container, a beaker. Thus it is a present. The Creator gives from His being, He gives time from His femininity."

 

Weinreb experienced and defined the "feminine" in God as the "being", the source of the Creation and connects this with images from the Old Testament, the stories where women like Rebecca, Rahel and Zipporah stood at the well and scooped up water. Creation is the gift which we receive without any condition or foundation to do so. That is like giving birth and the care a mother gives to her child, unconditional, given as a gift, without any preconditions.

 

      The fascinating thing for me was the connection of the Creation with time. Time is a valuable commodity and also, according to Weinreb, grows out of the being, out of femininity. I would like to offer you a few further examples  from the New Testament.

Jesus spoke about the mustard seed which grows into a tree and then offers protection to birds.

 

In Matthew and Luke Jesus likened God's Kingdom to leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal until the whole was leavened. In the fermentation process of the leaven, just as in the case of the growth process of the mustard seed, Jesus was demonstrating the nature of God's Kingdom. It consisted, in both cases, of completely natural processes which occur when they are protected from external influences and are patiently left alone to develop.

 

      Not activity at any price as the patriarchal model, in particular, demands of men, but rather patient waiting, that "leaving the thing to evolve as it will", the all lively immanence, is of much greater importance here. This is only possible through the elementary connection between people, also known as agape.  According to Riane Eisler its symbol, since the beginning of time, has been the circle or ellipse, not the sharp cornered lines of the pyramids, which symbolise the strictly hierarchical dominance of men, whether as gods, political leaders or the head of a family. Feminine patience, the understanding of the nature of growth processes and the wisdom, are given the highest acclaim by Jesus.

 

I am always happy, in this connection, to mention a quote from Chris Griscom, a (lady) American author and healer:

      "The feminine strives in all ideas, with creative efforts, to find that which is common and to unite, in that it, in the face of resistance, discovers openings and solutions and finds that which binds people together in all ideologies and philosophies. Which perspective would be better suited to research, fashion and realise the opportunity to achieve peace? Who is most suited to achieve peace and to educate the next generation to pursue peace?"

 

      The power of women is a fascinating thing. In a UN report from the 80's one could read:

 

"Women make up half of the world's population,

they work two-thirds of the total hours worked throughout the world, they receive one tenth of the world's income and are in possession of less than one percent of the wealth of the world."

I have difficulties in believing that this situation has changed very much in the new millennium. The injustice practised against women is clearly apparent. However, it is particularly the strength of women, the strength of the feminine which comes out in this report.

 

      Astrid Lindgren's literary girl and women characters often  demonstrate courage, independence and tenacity. Astrid Lindgren describes women who are free from a rigid socially dictated assignment of functions; it does not matter what task they take on, the most valuable things are always their capacity to love independently of external measures of value and the significance of feminine self-confidence.

 

Let us summarise what we have defined as feminine qualities in these sections:

      the deep emotional desire to satisfy other peoples' needs, to make other people happy,

      love of one's neighbour and even one's enemy,

      compassion,

      responsibility to one another,

      treating others as we would like ourselves to be treated,

      the ability to create,

      a connection with the origin of all being,

      creativity in all aspects of life,

      patience,

      an understanding of growth processes

      to find common ground and to unite on that basis

      to discover that which binds us together in all ideologies and philosophies

      endurance

      courage, independence and tenacity

      a capacity to love independently of external measures of value

 

We can add to this the points which we could glean from the interviews:

      the ability to place themselves in a position to understand other perspectives,

      keeping the overall living situation of a person in mind.,

      a view which always includes all senses,

      avoidance of power clashes,

      a desire to achieve more efficient co-operation,

      harmony, equalising,

      achieving positions which are based on consensus.

We are surely not yet finished in our definition of the word "feminine". There are still many more qualities which could be defined as "feminine". However, it is not my intention to make an exhaustive list. I am much more interested in leaving space for reflection, deepening of understanding and very personal  realisations.

 

However, even if we just took these previously mentioned aspects and gave them leading roles then we could certainly achieve certain basic changes.

 

Basic prerequisites for including feminine values

 

      Education

 

If it is our desire to bring these feminine capabilities into society then it is surely essential for us to qulaify ourselves and to continuously further our education concerning all that which is to do with the area in which we wish to make a contribution.  Professionalism is most certainly not just a male domain. Here I would like to draw your attention to something which we often forget:  Seneca said: "We do not dare to do something because it is difficult; it becomes difficult because we do not dare to do it."

 

Thanks to the various tasks which I have taken on in the Women's Federation I have been able to realise how multi-faceted the expression of truth is and how fascinating the search to discover its different aspects.

Further education is a gift from Heaven. I am also not just referring here to the accumulation of external knowledge.

 

A further horizon, to feel joy from recognising connections, deepening of our understanding of that which philosophers, sages and prophets have bequeathed to us, help us to recognise our original essence and nature as a woman and to achieve this once again. Our search will mean that we can fulfil our inheritance from the past and fill it with new life.

 

 

 

      The dignity of woman

We who are living in Europe are very fortunate to be in a culture in which we can easily be conscious of this (important point) and we can be very thankful for this. However there are still so many women throughout the world who simply have no chance at all to find their true identity.

It is therefore essential to restore the original value of woman, her dignity, in the consciousness of the society through

      self affirmation of being a person with a unique and valuable personality,

      as a being in whom divinity resides, 

      consciousness that we possess special values, capabilities and talents which our society needs,

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21/02/2008
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