2/15 – (Re)Joining the Conversation: Commenting on Integral Voices on Sex, Gender, and Sexuality: Critical Inquiries

January-February 2015 / Book Reviews

Diana Claire Douglas

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Diana Claire Douglas

Diana Claire Douglas

Sarah Nicholson and Vanessa Fisher were inspired to start a conversation within the Integral Community about sex, gender and sexuality. Their edited book Integral Voices is the result, and for many of their authors, just the beginning of that conversation.

Invited to review Integral Voices, I was aware that I was dropping into many conversations that already had a history, some of which I knew something about, and some I didn’t. I found myself needing to locate myself first ― where was I in the conversations about sex, gender and sexuality? And then I needed to locate this book (that I was reading in the Fall of 2014) in the larger collective conversation. In this way, I could (re)join the conversation!

Who is the “I” that is (re)joining this conversation? I am a white woman in her mid-60s, lesbian, artist, mother, grandmother, non-denominational minister and facilitator/educator. Although I locate myself (now) as a second wave feminist, at the time I was living it, participating in my own consciousness raising process and then creating change out of my experience. I came to know that part of my reason for being here (this time) is to fully experience being a woman ― in her many aspects. In the 90s, as third wave feminism was developing, I was involved with creativity and with spiritual studies in a non-dual tradition with a woman teacher named Leslie Temple-Thurston[i] ― which some would now call fourth wave feminism.[ii] In reading Integral Voices, I feel as if I am re-engaging in discussions, reflecting on issues, doing a life review, and preparing for something that is coming. I appreciate the movement that has been sparked in me.

During this time of refection, I became more aware of and sensitized to the conversations on sex, gender and sexuality happening in the larger world ― especially Canada, but also internationally. They were (and are) happening on radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, and social media, within organizations, and amongst friends.

  • Women are speaking out publicly about violence against women, which we have done for decades, but now it is being done together and en masse.[iii]
  • At the same time, women who do speak up, using social media and blogging, are still targeted with threats of rape and death.[iv]
  • There is a shift happening in the media ― sort of! Members of the press and the organizations themselves are becoming self-reflective.[v],[vi] And yet, Time Magazine had to apologize for putting the word “feminism” on the list for words that should be banned in 2015![vii]
  • High-status men are “falling” through public perception and pressure that their behaviour will no longer be tolerated.[viii] Organizations and institutions are having to respond ― and are responding.[ix],[x],[xi]
  • New campaigns have begun and are having a big impact through quick-spreading social media.[xii]
  • Men (and women) are discussing the ‘lost generation’ of men and beginning to seek remedies.[xiii] Men have been invited to join the movement[xiv] and even male politicians are speaking out on behalf of women.[xv]

Clearly an emergence of the feminine force is happening on a global scale. The changes are not just about trying to stop the violence but about women and men participating in the emerging future. A new wave of young teen feminists are taking on social stereotypes and the sex-saturated culture.[xvi] Two large-scale social events ― One Billion Rising[xvii] and WE Day[xviii] are examples for how creativity and collaboration are moving us collectively. Barbara Marx Hubbard and her Foundation for Conscious Evolution also exemplify this emergence. Now in her mid-80s, long known as a futurist, Barbara has been showing the way for the next step in human evolution ― the birth of the new human, called by Barbara “the universal human.” Through the on-line Shift Network, during the Fall of 2014, Barbara offered a course on “Co-creators Arising: Evolving a New You, A New We, and a New World.”[xix] She interviewed women and men who have moved into the new archetype of the co-creator. I appreciate her brilliant synthesis of women’s evolutionary journey: from Feminism through Feminine Empowerment to the Feminine Co-Creator.

The conversations around sex, sexuality and gender are intense and fiery! It is an excellent time to rejoin the conversation!

Overview of Integral Voices on Sex, Gender, and Sexuality: Critical Inquiries

Sarah E Nicholson and Vanessa Fisher had many purposes in bringing together the authors of the 11 chapters in Integral Voices. “As the first volume working to apply the Integral lens in this context,” they were ambitious in their approach. I gathered into a list their purposes found in the Introductory chapter (pp 1-12):

To further the conversation on “What does it mean to be gendered?” A question asked by what is now known as first wave feminists and continues to present time with contemporary gender and feminist theory.

To provide a diverse range of historical, feminist, psychological, sociological viewpoints.

To include the insights from traditional academic and applied domains of inquiry into a “more complex developmental vision of sex, gender, and sexuality through the use of the integral framework.” (p. 2)

To deepen and broaden the conceptual containers “that currently hold our understanding of sex, love and intimacy. This means widening our perspective to include the biological, psychological, sociological, and spiritual dimensions that inform our sexuality.” (p.2)

To situate current views about sex within the larger context of human evolutionary and developmental history.

To engage with (or perhaps evolve?)) some of the core questions posed by Ken Wilber in his books Sex ,Ecology and Spirituality (1995) and The Eye of the Spirit (1997).

To pioneer a new enquiry into sex and gender issues, “one that could really begin to reflect a radical liberational approach to knowledge.”(p.5) And, to contribute to “Developing a Critical Integral Praxis for Sex, Gender, and Sexuality”, as the title of the introductory chapter tells us.

To bring together Integral academics, educators and practitioners in one space, allowing for a broad range of views (including conflicting views and ones with which the editors did not agree) on what an integral approach to gender and sexuality is in theory and practice.

Chapter by Chapter:

Chapter 1: A history of the idea of Woman and of feminism in “Defining Woman: From First Wave to Integral Feminism,” by Sarah Nicholson.

Before starting Integral Voices, I had read Nicholson’s book The Evolutionary Journey of Woman: from the Goddess to Integral Feminism from which the ideas of the chapter in Integral Voices were taken. As a resource for further study of many of the issues brought forward in Integral Voices, The Evolutionary Journey is invaluable. The bibliography alone is 35 pages long. In fact the book had the feel to me that it was an extended annotated bibliography. I was happy to see mentioned many authors I knew, it was like a visit with old friends from my days involved with the women’s movement in the 80s. I found myself looking for Nicholson’s own voice and actually marked the places in my book where I could see it. Much later I realized that her voice came through in how she structured the large amount of information she had gathered and organized. I found it curious that the question about defining Woman was the central question ― until I realized that this was an instance of me dropping into a conversation that had an ongoing history in the academy. (And the question is still relevant. One of my friends is presently doing an informal survey of a large network of women friends and asking the same question. She has asked many women now and they all answer: “Oh, what a good question. I haven’t thought of that. It seems so simple, but it’s not. I don’t know!”)

In her chapter in Integral Voices, “Defining Woman,” Nicholson stated that in order to understand who we are and what it means to be human, we need to understand what it is to be a woman. She shifts the question from what it means to be “a woman” to “Woman,”(without explanation) and explores the question through the history of feminist thought as articulated in the first, second and third waves of feminism.

First wave was about woman being recognized as human beings with rights to education, the vote, property and marriage rights. Women were part of a shared humanity.

There are many branches within second wave feminism ― Marxist/Socialist, Eco feminists and cultural feminists, radical feminists, lesbian feminists, etc. There was the development of three principle schools of thought. The first was essentialist espousing the positive connection between woman, body and earth; the second was constructionist feminist thought espousing the social construction of gender, through for instance the socialization of children; and the third came from psychoanalytic premises and post-structuralism, especially through French feminists, looking at how women are positioned and defined by the symbolic relationship between psyche and language in development. (p. 21)

Third wave feminism reacted against what they saw as second wave’s “unitary notions of woman and feminine gender identity” and began to include in social identity development not only gender, but race, class, ethnicity, age and sexual orientation and how these intersected with each other. Like second wave, there are several versions: post-modern constructionist, extreme post-modernism, Corporeal Feminism, Process Philosophy and Nomadic Feminism.

What happens when the Western dichotomies of Man and Woman, self and other, collapse, and how then can the female subject be reassembled? Sex and gender were not seen as binary but moving along continuums. “They emphasized that sex, or the gendered body, was not an ahistorical biological given, but a lived and culturally constructed form.” (p. 22) In this perspective, Woman was either without form or is identified as a specific type of form “that arises as a reiterated relational pattern located in a larger whole.” (p. 25)

Nicholson also included nondual philosophy (which some are naming fourth wave feminism).[xx] Nondualism poses non-oppositional difference. “The idea of ‘not two’ posits a dynamic interplay and balance between different manifestations of one related phenomena, as an interconnected spectrum of difference.” The true nature of being is beyond gender. Woman then resides both in the relative sphere and Absolute realm.

Nicholson outlined the value of Integral theory generally ― analyzing, mapping and incorporating multiple perspectives and their stages of development in order to come to a more holistic, informed understanding of the subject. (p. 29) She showed the potential for the application of Integral theory to the subject of Woman and concluded: “Wilberian Integral Theory, in not engaging with the full complexity of gender theories … has thus far failed to offer a genuinely Integral approach to sex and gender.” (p. 33)

Nicholson ended with the view that in order for there to be gender liberation, there is need for a robust Integral feminism and a robust Integral masculinism so that men and women can come to dance in conversation and come to know themselves and each other more fully. And in order to have this conversation “a truly integral definition of Woman is an absolute necessity.” (p. 33)

I ask: after all you have read and thought about this topic, what is your best guess for a definition now?

Sparked by both this chapter in Integral Voices and The Evolutionary Journey, I read up on the history of feminism and the evolution of the movement. I found myself reviewing my own experiences in my journey as a woman and the descriptions of the waves of feminism. I have been particularly interested, as a second waver, to see if second wave has been portrayed as it really happened. In my additional reading, I was looking for story and experience rather than theory. I have been looking for patterns, inside myself and outside. I want to know what is happening now and what is emerging.

What happened for me? I became even more aware that it is in the context of the waves of feminism (it is because of women continually initiating the ongoing questioning of sex, sex roles, gendered violence, equality, liberation) that we can and do have these multi-perspective, engaging, conflictual, exciting conversations about sex, gender and sexuality.

Chapter 2: A personal and intimate look at where men are in their evolution and a call for the transformation and liberation of men in Michael Fisher’s “(Are) Men Tragically Hopeless (?)”

In form and content, this chapter is one of my favorites. The author posed questions to himself and answered them ― a very creative approach to sharing his personal history in men’s groups, living in conscious community with feminists, and the Integral community.

He asked: “Why has Men-ness been constructed so positively through time to then suddenly ― and relative to our species’ evolution ― end up so negative and tragic?” (p.41) He made suggestions about what men are to do with their fall into “hopelessness” and how they can be liberate themselves.

Fisher suggested that men and women could come together (or not) in a conversation that includes acknowledgement of trauma, the ‘Matrix of Domination’ (Patricia Hill Collins) and its role in development/evolution (p.51), the Matrix of Fear , and the necessary and messy work of liberating ourselves personally and collectively from all the oppressions (“sexism, genderism, heterosexism, classism, ethnocentricism, racism, religiousism, ageism, adultism, colonialism, Americanism and so forth…”) (p. 55)

He recommended the work of Raûl Quiňones Rosado? (Consciousness-in-Action: Toward an Integral Psychology of Liberation and Transformation, 2007) as providing an integral map for how to shift from first tier to second tier (Spiral Dynamics) which suggests including a new line of development to AQAL, “Social Identity Development.” These stages of development, based on Hardiman & Jackman’s model are: naive (no social consciousness), acceptance (or absorption into the norms), resistance (awakening to the assumptions of the norms), redefinition (integrating diverse social identities); internalization of the new social identity. (pp. 57-58)

In his community leadership role, Fisher has said to men: ‘Get down off your high horse, on your knees in front of the women you respect, and tell them that they can take over now, and you will be their allies to assist them in any way they need to become liberation leaders.” (p. 50) He challenged women to “Stop letting men control them and dis-empower their emancipator leadership.” (p. 49)

Fisher was clear about how much work men have to do (including men in the Integral community) to be living in second-tier consciousness. As a woman, I appreciate his direct, no blame-no shame stance, and his direct speak to men. I appreciate his ability to empathize with women. For example, in response to the question of whether women and the feminist movement overplayed victimhood, he states: “The feminist discourse arose with a lot less victimization emphasis in the beginning stages of the rebellion. Only after they were attacked systematically by the status quo did they get hurt ― and terrorized ― even more deeply than when they kept their mouths shut all those centuries.” (p. 45)

My only suggestion: Fisher states that he is an “integral feminist.” I can imagine what that means by his discourse as outlined in this chapter, and yet I wish he had defined this directly.

Chapter 3: In “A Deep Integral View on the Future of Gender,” Elizabeth DeBold puts the dramas of gender in the context of evolution and what the future may look like when gender is seen as obsolete.

In “A Deep Integral View on the Future of Gender,” Elizabeth DeBold put the dramas of gender in the context of evolution: from energy, to matter, to life, to consciousness, to culture… Quoting Cohen, (2011) she adds, “once life becomes conscious, a drive towards greater consciousness, freedom of choice or agency become apparent.” (p 72) The prime directive and most essential value is a movement forward towards higher and deeper integration. DeBold told the story of the evolution of culture through Eros, or the impulse of evolution, emphasizing that “it is critical not to identify this force of consciousness that creates the new as masculine or inherently related to men and their values;” (p. 73) or to continue with survival based on dominance and submission. She stated that gender is “obsolete as a central organizing principle for our deepest sense of self or for our culture.” (p. 86) A new organizing principle is beginning to emerge, no longer driven by the need to procreate or die out, rather, by the need for co-creation which includes men and women actually meeting in partnership.

DeBold’s writing is accessible, readable, thought-provoking and helpful. I appreciate her brief outline of the evolution (I might say devolution) of Wilber’s thinking on sex and gender, giving a context for the book. As her “take” on history coincides with my reading of history, I found it affirming. (Although later in the book, Joseph Gelfer comments on DeBold’s trio of articles called “Where Are the Women?” “On first glance these articles look like an impassioned plea to include women’s voices in the integral movement. But these articles soon turn on a Wilberian take on feminism…” (p. 203, FN 20). I find myself re-reading her statement: “My intent is not to investigate what happened within the integral community or with Ken Wilber…”(p. 65) and wish that Integral Voices included more stories about how Integral gender theory is really practiced (or not) in the Integral community.

Chapter 4: Gilles Herrada explored the world of homophobia from an evolutionary perspective in “The Mysterious Fate of Homosexuality.” He named some of the forces that have determined the fate of homosexuality in order to free homosexuals from victimhood.

As a lesbian, I was happy to see that the topic of sexual orientation was included in Integral Voices. Using the lens of Integral theory to understand homophobia, Gilles Herrada gives the cross-cultural historical roots of homophobia at the turn of the Common Era.

The author did not give us his definition of the word “homosexual” and for me it is an old-fashioned word for gay identity. The word itself carries its own historical baggage, and it would have been helpful to have that included in the article.

There was also an awkwardness in how he dealt with lesbianism ― is it included in homophobia or not? The author left it out in naming the three key dynamics that are the “necessary and sufficient to make sense of the history of homosexuality.” (p.101) These are “(1) The pre-historic logic of male ranking, (2) the social urge to channel male homosexual behavior into stable ritualistic forms in all human cultures, and (3) homosexuality’s representation in the mythos, including homosexuality’s consistency with the symbolic worldview.” (p. 115-6) Only later in the article did he say that in pre-Axial societies, lesbianism was invisible and therefore not a threat to male-dominated societies (and was this his reasoning for not including lesbianism n the dynamics?) He explained that homophobia began to include lesbianism with Paul for whom lesbianism was “unnatural” and incompatible with the Judeo-Christian cosmic order. There was no discussion as to why lesbians were invisible (lower in the ranking than even homosexual men perhaps?) and the impact on women’s lives. I wondered about the increase in violence against women and effeminate men and how Herrera could talk about homophobia without talking about hatred.

Herrada’s call for homosexuals to reclaim authorship of their own history is important (and yet he again does not include lesbians).[xxi] However, to use, as he suggest “ the Integral conceptual framework to reassemble homosexual reality into a comprehensive all-encompassing model” (p. 117) seems backwards to me…I believe there are gay and lesbian realities that may or may not fit into the Integral model.

Chapter 5: Terry Hildebrandt in “An Integral Map of Sexual Identity” gives us a complex map which includes biological sex, gender identity, gender role and sexual orientation in how we construct sexual identity through pre-modern to postmodern times.

I appreciate that Terry Hildebrandt, in “An Integral Map of Sexual Identity,” defined the terms sex, gender and gender role (p. 130) ― and I wonder whether his chapter might have been useful if it had been an earlier chapter. His complex AQAL maps of how we construct sexual identity, which includes biological sex, gender identity, gender role and sexual orientation, is particularly useful. He discussed the theories of sexuality through pre-modern (Indigenous knowledge, two-spirited), Modern (Essentialism and Social Construction) to postmodern times (Queer theory and heteronormativity). He found the Integral perspective, especially the perspective of each of the quadrants, to be valuable as a way for deeper insight. In order to complete an Integral model, he notes that there is still more work to be done, and levels, lines and states need to be added to the quadrants and types.

Through Hildebrandt’s discussion it is easy to realize how complex and multidimensional sex, gender identity and role, and sexual orientation are.

Chapter 6: In “Gender Issues without Men: an Oxymoron,” responding to questions from the editors this is a transcribed dialogue between Ken Wilber and Warren Farrell (“pioneer in women’s, men’s and father’s movements”). We are given a recent version of both of their thoughts on women, men, feminism, responsibility, requirements to be truly integral and the case for an alternative to the theory of patriarchy.

As I responded and reacted to the dialogue between Ken Wilber and Warren Farrell in “Gender Issues without Men: an Oxymoron,” rather intensely, my feelings stirred in ways that reminded me of how I felt thirty years ago when I first woke up to women’s lack of rightful place in history, in society, in culture, in ourselves, I will give a more lengthy comment to this article here.

It has been difficult for me to get around Wilber and Farrell’s whining about what feminism did not do for men in order to appreciate some of their points of discussion. Examples: “So any woman who is in women’s studies should be a pioneer in helping men to question their roles because men and women are in the same boat together.” (p. 145) And, “feminism was only a really good description of the female experience of powerlessness and the female experience of male power, but it didn’t even address the male experience of female beauty, power and sexual power, and it didn’t address the male experience of powerlessness.” (p.145) I ask, why should women describe the male experience ― surely that is men’s responsibility?

At times I felt there was an underlying (unconscious?) tone of “Where’s my mommy and why isn’t she making life better for me?”

Reactively, I also felt that the two men were in a race for who is the most victimized ― and it seems to them that men are. I question the use of the numbers game around who is abused more by whom (a game used by both women and men), as numbers do not deal with context nor severity. It is, however, a bit odd that both authors talk about society developing in certain ways due to men’s upper body strength and this is not taken into account in their playing the numbers game. They also agreed that in the last forty years, everything that women desired or needed or wanted has been given to them, as we’ve encouraged women to speak up…” (p. 159) This seems to conveniently forget that the ERA[xxii] did not pass (as only one of many examples) and they must be only referring to the (imagined?) US as there is no mention of the low status of women across many cultures.

As Naomi Wolf so eloquently discusses in Fire with Fire,[xxiii] there has always been two approaches within feminism. One ― “victim feminism” (as Wolf defines it) ― casts women as sexually pure, universally good and powerless, and men evil. “Power feminism sees women as human beings ― sexual, individual, no better or worse than their male counterparts ― and lays claim to equality simply because women are entitled to it.” (p. xvii)

We usually think of victims and perpetrators as separate entities. However, when we look at the underlying pattern in consciousness, victims and perpetrators are actually deeply connected with each other. They need each other to exist. A victim is not a victim without a perpetrator and a perpetrator is not a perpetrator without a victim. So when we as women place a greater emphasis or value on the victim stance (“victim feminism”), we should not be surprised that this stance calls out either the tyrant or victim in men ― and ourselves. Perhaps it is this stance to which Wilber and Farrell are responding.

Given that both authors criticize feminism, I was really surprised to read near the end of the article that they both consider themselves feminists! I wonder what they meant by being a male feminist. (I am guessing this is one place where I am dropping into the middle of the conversation!) They blame feminists for not doing enough to see the man’s side ― does that mean they are blaming themselves? It doesn’t sound like it in the article! (Although I like Farrell’s description of what he does when he speaks at universities: he sets up two podiums, one for his feminist-self and one for his masculinist-self and runs back and forth having a dialogue.)

I agree there is a need for men’s studies, as both Wilber and Farrell claim. My adult son describes this as “how men can be in their heart and keep their balls!” I remember the excitement, actually thrill, I experienced in my Masters courses in the 1980s. It was the early days of Women’s Studies and feminist professors, and we had the opportunity to use our life experiences as women as the material for academic study. Many of us took the knowledge we gained and did something with it ― started Rape Crisis Centres, Women’s and Children’s Presses, Women’s Studies Departments or as in my case, counselling services for adult women survivors of childhood trauma. And I wish for men the joy and life energy that comes from naming and claiming the impact of the patriarchal system (both benefits and costs) on them and creating something new and, I can hope, life sustaining and heart-centered.

And perhaps there needs to be Men’s Studies developed before Gender Studies can really work! (After a decade or two of success in developing Women’s Studies programs in most universities, sometime in the 1990s the name of these programs was changed to Women and Gender Studies, and the content changed also. I asked myself why? From a quick look at the discussion among women when this change was happening, the university reasons given included more alumni (or male?) funding, and somehow a shift was needed just when the programs had developed enough so PhDs could be granted. I am reminded of my becoming aware of the integration of men’s and women’s wards in psychiatric hospitals in the 1980s. It was well known that separate floors served women’s healing more, and integrated floors served men’s healing (or at least men were less volatile on mixed floors.)

Although both Wilber and Farrell admitted that feminists have lead the way ― “One of the things that feminism did that was so good, and the way that it helped men just as much as women, was understanding that sex roles aren’t just an immediate product of biology: that biology is not destiny.” (p.158 ) ― I am not sure why, rather than blaming feminism for all it has not done for men, Wilber and Farrell don’t give examples of how men are using the questions women have asked and the map(s) that women created, developed, and practiced as inspiration for doing their own work as men to make necessary systemic changes. This would be a much more appealing invitation into a conversation between men and women.

Chapter 8: Joseph Gelfer in “Integral Spirituality or Masculine Spirituality?” argues that Wilber’s claims to an Integral spirituality are really a Masculine Spirituality valuing itself more than a Feminine Spirituality.

(I am reviewing this chapter out of order because my discussion of it belongs next to Wilber and Farrell’s chapter.) I was greatly relieved to read Joseph Gelfer’s “Integral Spirituality or Masculine Spirituality?” He put into words some of the feelings I had that something was off for me with Wilber’s views (as articulated in the dialogue with Farrell).

“In an ideal world, expressions of masculine spirituality would complement feminine spirituality resulting in a holism that bears witness to the beauty and variety of human experiences. However, the unfortunate reality is that masculine spirituality more often than not perpetuates a thinly veiled patriarchal spirituality…” (p.187) For Gelfer this is happening not only in Christian men’s movements but in Wilber’s model of integral spirituality. Gelfer then went on to criticize Wilber’s understanding of masculine and feminine types (“more accurately called stereotypes” [p189]) and how this influenced his view of patriarchy ― Wilber “seeks to redefine or deny patriarchy” [p 194] by denying that patriarchy operated as a dominating force within history and suggesting that men and women co-created their lives based on what was needed to survive. He questioned Wilber’s version of masculine/feminine as integrated into AQAL so that states, levels and lines have a masculine or feminine type. Gelfer is not the only author[xxiv] who states that Wilber misread Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice. He quotes from personal communication with Gilligan: “I would not label ‘agency’ masculine and communion ‘feminine.’” (p. 191) As well, “Wilber follows the traditional spiritual formula that equates the masculine with transcendence and the feminine with immanence, and then bases his whole developmental schema on transcending and including, relegating feminine immanence to archaic consciousness, thus privileging and securing the dominance of the masculine principle. (p 201) He then addressed the implications of this as Wilber’s influence spreads.

It seems to me that Gelfer’s criticisms show how very hard it is to leave the patriarchal system, (even for Ken Wilber and colleagues?) especially when we have benefitted from the system. Anne Wilson Schaef first called it “the white male system,” and later “the addictive system”[xxv] ― a more inclusive term and less gendered. Recently “check your privilege” has become a common slogan, especially amongst the university crowd. It is easier for all of us, men and women, to let go of a victim position (although even that is remarkably difficult!) than to take responsibility for being a tyrant, whether overt or covert, conscious or unconscious.

Wilber contended that survival was the necessary condition for how society developed and men did not dominate women, rather, both co-created their world. I agree that survival has been the driver, I don’t agree with Wilber that men did not dominate women. Somewhere in our collective distant past there was a great cataclysm (various causes have been given) and the terrors and pain of this cataclysm live on in generation after generation of traumatic history. In order to survive this, consciousness was shattered into victim/tyrant/rebel/rescuer/survivor. Men have tended to be the tyrants and women have tended to be the victims. However, we now live at a time when we realize each of us has all those parts within us, and, if we wish to shift systems and live in a new paradigm, it is necessary to take responsibility for each of these aspects of ourselves. What keeps us locked in this “prison” of polarized consciousness is both desire and fear. For instance, each of us holds the polarities within of dominance/submission, good/ bad, beneficial/unbeneficial, love/hate, etc. It has been part of my spiritual practice for the last 20 years to use Leslie Temple-Thurston’s Marriage of Spirit process to clear these polarized states in order to move into a heart-centered consciousness and beyond ― which includes beyond gender.

Chapter 7: In “Feminine, Masculine, Female and Male in the Integral Space” Rebecca A. Bailin shares her criticisms of Integral theory and terminology and invites a deeper (and more integral) view of the workings of sex and gender.

There is so much to consider and digest in Rebecca A. Bailin’s article “Feminine, Masculine, Female and Male in the Integral Space” ― it is a must-read for understanding what Integral Voices is about. The author explored the limitations of the use of masculine and feminine terminology and the conflation of sex and gender in Integral Theory and practice (how applications of gender are actually applied). Rebecca described how gender and sex are understood and lived at first-tier, and the pre-trans fallacy that seems to be occurring in the Integral community. She asked, “How does one achieve authentic second-tier gender awareness?” (p 179) And answered that we are feeling our way…and we know through understanding evolution, that gender will also evolve. How? “We learn to question assumptions about how gender applies to sex, we investigate and master the traditional expertises of the opposite sex, we do our shadow work, and we engage in those practices that help us transcend egoic identification.” (p.179) She also asks how an Integral feminist (who addresses the needs and evolution of women) should treat the masculine/feminine typology and the coupling of gender and sex. And she shares her vision of coming into the non-dual state, “which is our true essence, and as we deepen into it, all traits, types and personalities are obliterated in the truly radiant light.” (p.181)

Chapter 9: Barbara Bickel brings a spiritual feminist and artist’s perspective to the Integral conversation about sex, gender and sexuality.

Barbara Bickel’s article “Led by the Spirit of Art: A Spiritual Feminist Arts-Based Inquiry” was a refreshing addition to this collection. Through Bickel’s article I came to understand Integral theory/practice more fully. Bickel is clear about how her art-making is integral in several ways:

  • Drawing from Wilber’s value spheres, “my practice follows the lines of these three realms of human experience and attempts to convey the action of the instrumental injunction, the cognition of the intuitive apprehension, and the relational feedback loop of the communal confirmation.” (p.210)
  • Valuing the spiritual process of art making alongside the scientific and aesthetic dimensions.
  • Breaking down and transforming the compartmentalization of life (sacred and profane, public and private) through her identification with and practice of spiritual feminism, described by Bickel quoting John Rowan as “political feminism that uses the construction of cultural symbols, images, rituals and archetypes of power useful to women opposing social oppression.” (p. 212)
  • “It is simply not satisfying for me or the co-researchers to locate subjectivities of their being into only racial, gender or sexual categories because when taken alone they restrict us within ethnocentric or egocentric perspectives. A spiritual feminist arts-based that uses Integral theory and practice can include those various roles and containers for our subjectivity, but more importantly also offers us a vehicle through which to transcend these roles and recognize our shared identity as Spirit in flesh.” (p. 226)

Bickel describes how she has followed spirit in her art making, starting with her final-year art project called “Men as Birthers, Not Destroyers.” Long interested in the human body, on reflection she could see how she used this project to become conscious of her place (or not) in the male art world. It was also the way that she used to accept masculine energy in herself and others. In 1992 she was asking: Are we ready to accept men as nurturers, loving birthers, and creators of Life? (p. 214) A question we still need to ask and answer!

“She Knows” was also a collaborative co-researched project, inviting the exploration of women’s body memory, experience, and knowing in order to contradict the shaming of women’s bodies and through the final performance ritual, the reunion and reintegration of women’s knowing.

I appreciate that the description of the works that Bickell shared were about the body (our bodies) and embodiment. It seems clear that all genders need to be embodied in order to be present in an integral world. Bickell brought into Integral Voices several valuable perspectives ― art-making, spirit, collaboration, her inner journey ― that were a welcome addition to the conversation.

Chapter 10: “Evolving Our Approach to Sexual Harassment: A New Role for Women” with Vanessa Fisher and Diane Musho Hamilton puts sexual harassment policy and law in historical context. It then invites women to engage and gives some suggestions about what the necessary ingredients are in order to develop the conversation further.

The dialogue between Vanessa Fisher and Diane Musho Hamilton in “Evolving Our Approach to Sexual Harassment: A New Role for Women” is lively, articulate and informative. Both felt there is a call right now for men and women to evolve the conversation to a new level of awareness and compassion. And they carefully explained why they have chosen to “focus on one dimension of the sexual harassment debate ― the role of (heterosexual) women in moving this conversation forward.” (p.232). Hamilton described this conversation as an Integral challenge, to acknowledge the development of the sexual harassment debate and the new position of female empowerment without falling back into blame the victim (if women have power, men must become victims.) She describes the work as mapping a developmental direction in which both men and women may participate fully in owning their power and responsibility. (p. 233)

They briefly shared the history of sexual harassment law, from when women had no protection at work under the law to the 1960s when harassment was first seen as a large social pattern and form of discrimination, to Catherine MacKinnon’s contribution to 1980s policy making with naming quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile environment harassment, which later became law. The rise to power of the “sexual harassment industry” has had benefits and negative consequences, such as heterophobia.

Hamilton acknowledged one of Wilber’s and Farrell’s criticisms of women ― that we don’t own the power we have through our sexuality ― and the need to be conscious of our impact, and in this way be consciously empowered. (p. 241) Women, in particular, also need to take responsibility for externalizing our power (giving it to men, policy, lawyers, others views), and thus we are giving away our internal sense of self-determination. (p.244)

They asked and discussed whether the increased protection for women increases the empowerment of women and equality between the sexes. “There is a powerful difference between the need to be respected and regarded and the need to be protected” ― if protection means the belief that women are victims. “The problem with victimization as a position is that power is actually derived indirectly by experiencing yourself as not having it.” (p.243) Another way of saying this (from the teachings I practice) show that victim/tyrant are opposites and dependent on each other in order to exist, and victims can easily become tyrants and tyrants victims.

The authors discussed how the development of sexual policy and law and the issues of power, protection and responsibility have affected women’s consciousness to the present and they especially look at the impact on younger women. Fisher, as a self-declared Gen-Y, said that there is a convergence of “two strong and conflicting cultural forces” ― the inheritance from feminist consciousness (both its positive and limiting aspects) and “raunch culture” (to be sexually out there in how women dress and act). (pp.246-247) I believe this confusion is also a societal confusion, expressed across generations and sexes.

Hamilton shared her wisdom as an elder and spiritual teacher. She stated, “As we register the changes in the power dynamic between the sexes, we can actually begin to take an interest in the deeper patterns within us…This is a very conscious step that has to be taken by a large collective of women to start to really take responsibility for our part in the situation.” (p. 249) She also suggested “it is important to learn how to reduce the anxiety of encountering erotic energy, have confidence in saying no, pace our interactions and learn to redirect unwanted sexual energy in a straightforward way. This includes kindness and humor. This is not about protecting men’s feelings; it is about creating a trusting relationship with yourself and increasing confidence in navigating relationship challenges.’ (p 251) We can do this, both authors say, by supporting each other as women in developing the necessary skills and boundaries, by including the developmental range found in women’s different life experiences and therefore needs, and to make what has been unconscious conscious.

All I can say is “Yes!”

Chapter 11: What would Integral sexuality education look like? In “An Integral Approach to Sexuality Education” by Michele J. Eliason and John P. Elia share their ideas of what is needed.

The authors are both university-level educators who have found that their students do not have “a standard language to describe sex or to communicate with their partners,” and they believe that “an Integral framework is an ideal place to start thinking about a more comprehensive sexuality education for the twenty-first century.” (p. 257) They gave a history of Sexuality Education in the US, critiquing the models for not adequately preparing the youth for sexually fulfilling relationships.

Eliason and Elia generously outline the content for a Four-Quadrant model of sexuality education. They gave eight recommendations for sexuality education: (1) That it is integrated throughout the curriculum. (2) It is addressed in the formal curriculum and informal social structures. (3) Developmental stages: they discuss as the levels of development (what should be taught when, not as a way to control and regulate sexuality, but matching pedagogical strategies with learners’ developmental capabilities). (4) It integrates the 4 quadrants (and the chapter includes what needs to be covered in each quadrant. (5) It is democratic (debate, conflict, dissent, equality) in order to foster human potential. (6) It is anti-oppressive ― investigating the influences that sustain racism, sexism, heterosexism and gender normativity. (7) It recognizes students as sexual agents rather than asexual entities, and includes their voice in the design of the programs. (8) It will balance discussions of danger and pleasure. (pp 274-277)

Recently I heard a portion of a CBC “Radio Noon” call-in show about Sex Ed in the province of Quebec. Evidently a few years ago Quebec introduced Sex Ed that was integrated across the curriculum. Interviewing teachers, it has been discovered that most teachers are not addressing any of the issues, nor including Sex Ed in their course content. Not discussed in the article, but very clearly to me, for this kind of Integral program to work there would need to be programs educating the teachers first.

****

Postscript Comments

Integral Voices ends for me abruptly. I was very surprised that the editors did not write a post-script. After all, they tell us in the Introduction that the journey to publication was difficult and took eight years. What happened to each of them during that time? How did the journey affect them and their understanding of the issues? Did they evolve? Did they see the conversation between men and women evolving? What about “fourth wave” feminism?

They did represent a balance of women and men in their authors ― I counted!

There are 11 conversations initiated in Integral Voices. Interesting conversations. Provocative conversations. I made a list for myself of the ones that stand out for me: What is Woman? How can men liberate themselves? Why homophobia? Will gender survive the next stage in evolution? What are the elements in constructing social identity? How vigilant do we need to be about slipping into patriarchal perspective (where men privilege? themselves and what and how men think and act are valued more than women)? What do men in leadership roles have to say? How useful are masculine and feminine categories? What happens when we include art making, and even collaborative art making, in the Integral dialogue? Power and responsibility: does anyone need protection? How do we share the Integral vision with the younger generation?

As someone who is a guest in the Integral conversations in this book, I have asked myself, did the use of the Integral map engage me more or less in these conversations? Recognizing that Integral Voices was meant to initiate an integral inquiry ― which it did successfully ― this is just a beginning. In the small and handy book, The Integral Vision, Wilber writes that the AQAL framework is not a “’mere abstraction’ but a living, luminous, experiential reality…once you download IOS into your biocomputer, then it acts as an internal checklist, automatically alerting you to areas in your own capacities that you might not be using as fully as you could. It imposes nothing from the outside, but lights up the insides of your own possibilities…It helps make sense of everything.”[xxvi] (pp.180-181) Engaging with Integral Voices, the Integral map remains an elegant map, and a mental check list for me. But it is not a living, experiential reality.

However, I see it as a useful map. Several of the chapters articulate how confusing sex, gender and sexuality is in today’s world. We are still asking What is Woman? What is Man? What is Sex? Integral Voices shows us the complexity of trying to understand and articulate what has happened historically up to the present day in these areas. There is a sense of a movement towards an Integral vision in the future. The multi-perspective view just might open new doorways to that vision.

I have asked myself who is the audience for Integral Voices? Is it just a conversation for those inside the Integral community? Is it accessible? What I missed most in Integral Voices is personal story, although I am aware that Michael Fisher and Barbara Bickell do use story. Story brings messages alive and accessible. (I am sure I am dating myself here for after all I came of age with “the personal is political!”). I realize that there are limitations put on authors when writing for an academic audience ― which I assume is the audience for these books (Integral Voices and The Evolutionary Journey). I say this with a kind of longing for change in the academy rather than a criticism of The Evolutionary Journey of Women or Integral Voices. (I see them to be excellent additions to the academic library).

Also, the tone (in the academy) is so very serious at a time when there is a consciousness shift to using humour and celebration even in the face of terror and all-that-is-wrong-in-the-world. This shift in tone is expressed in my favourite recent book A Little Bit F’D UP: Why Feminism is Not a Dirty Word by Julie Zeilinger (2012), (age 19 when she wrote it!), which articulates very complex notions in easily accessible language. The author is funny, outrageous, delightful. I burst out laughing several times. And at the same time she gave one of the clearest descriptions of the feminist movement through all its waves that I have read.

I feel a cacophony of voices not included in Integral Voices. I am aware, as editors, Fisher and Nicholson had to make choices for what could be included and what not. Here are some suggestions for future gatherings (books) of voices on sex, gender, and sexuality:

I believe that none of the authors is a person of color or at least the intersection of race, sex, and gender is not included as a chapter topic. This is one of the main criticisms of second wave feminists by third wave feminists, creating a myth that second wave was solely a white, middle class movement rather than a spontaneous eruption of all sorts of feminist groups ― Chicana, Asian, Black and White.[xxvii] Not really knowing the Integral community, I would guess from the authors included that it is mostly a white middle class community and so those were the available voices to choose from.

Although “sex” and “sexuality” are in the title, I have no sense of the reality of sexual intimacy and love and how the Integral map might be useful for bringing this conversation alive.

The mother/Mother needs to be included. This is not just a suggestion![xxviii] The force that is pushing us forward includes (called by many names) the return of the Great Mother, the return of the sacred feminine to her rightful place in the flow of life.[xxix] I wonder if the editors felt that “motherhood” is a second-wave feminist issue and does not need to be discussed at this time? There are so many gender issues relating to mother and mothering alive today: How the shift to women earning more than men and men becoming the one who stays at home is changing attitudes to sex, sexuality and gender roles.[xxx] How women, in some countries, have the “right” to choose abortion, and how that right is disappearing in practice. How abortions, miscarriages, and stillbirths have a systemic impact on future generations. How the longing to be a mother is thwarted for many women as infertility is on the rise. How transgender is changing the face of motherhood (literally) as several men who have transitioned but still have their ovaries and uterus have given birth in the US, UK, and Israel.[xxxi]

In closing I wish to share a sacred co-creative experience that has given me a taste of what is emerging now. In the summer of 2014 I attended “The Friends for Global Co-operation” retreat at Villa Unspunnen in the mountains of Switzerland. We were 35 invited participants, representing a balance of men and women (the first time I have seen that at a spiritual retreat!), age-range 23 to 80. Over the week the sexual energy rose (how could it not when we were being so creative!) and was not talked about inside the circle, but many (intergenerational) conversations were happening outside the circle! On the second last day one of the women participants called a woman’s circle together because women were feeling not heard and acknowledged by the men. First women needed to hear each other. We all agreed that there is a woman’s way that is very different from a man’s way in timing, in the need for silence, the need to tend to life not just to push through. Annette (the spiritual teacher who is the steward of the Villa) said that perhaps we had something to offer to the group ― to the Whole. So we women co-created a ritual and it became part of the final morning’s closing ritual. Unaware of what was to happen, the men were inside (in the meeting space) waiting. We women walked in silence into the space, holding a flower. Each of us paired with one man. Each of us said, in our own words some version of the following: The Sacred loves the masculine in me and the feminine in me. The Sacred loves the masculine in you and the feminine in you. Will you receive this flower as an acknowledgement of this sacredness? From the deepest place within, this place where there are not two, where the masculine and feminine dance together, let us dance. Then we danced. And then all the men placed their flowers in a vase in the center of the circle as we stood, hands joined, as Wholeness.

****

Nicholson and Fisher, by being the ones initiating this conversation in the Integral community, are honouring and aligning with all the waves of feminism ― each wave having its own version of what was needed for women to be valued and given space for their authentic expression. Sex, gender and sexuality have always been at the core. Clearly, Nicholson and Fisher are on to something that is timely. We need these discussions and we need both women and men to be involved.

References

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Anonymous Woman. (Nov 17, 2014) “Women Like Me.” MacLean’s Magazine.

Armstrong, Sally. (Oct 25, 2014). “Women as Weapons of War,” Ottawa Citizen, C1-3.

Boulding, Elise. (1976). The Underside of History: A View of Women through Time. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Barrell, Ryan. (Nov 20, 2014). “Meet Breastfeeding Dad Trevor MacDonald,” The Huffington Post UK. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/11/20/breastfeeding-transgender-dad_n_6192960.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular Accessed Nov 20, 2014

Buckland, Clare and Douglas, Diana C. (1999). Always Becoming – Forever! A Journal of Conscious Living/ Conscious Dying. Vancouver, BC: Becoming Books.

www.care2.com (Sept 29, 2014). “How Sweden’s Feminist Party is Changing European Politics and Possibly the World.” http://www.care2.com/causes/how-swedens-feminist-party-is-changing-european-politics-and-possibly-the-world.html#ixzz3EcPAtwsj Accessed Sept 29, 2014.

www.care2.com (Dec 5, 2014). http://www.thepetitionsite.com/464/515/780/tell-time-magazine-no-we-shouldnt-ban-the-word-feminist/?z00m=22378524&redirectID=1532172329

Kristina C., Care2 Action Alerts [actionalerts@care2.com] Accessed Dec. 5, 2014

Calvi, Liz “Photographs of America’s Generation of ‘Lost Boys’” http://lizcalvi.com/lost-boys/

Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters & Transition Houses (October 2013). The Case for a National Action Plan on Violence Against Women.http://ywcacanada.ca/data/research_docs/00000307.pdf   accessed Nov 26, 2014

Carr, David. (Nov 24, 2014). “Calling Out Bill Cosby’s Media Enablers, Including Myself.” http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/25/business/media/calling-out-bill-cosbys-media-enablers-including-myself.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0 accessed Dec 1, 2014.

CBC. (Nov 21, 2014). “Bill Cosby Scandal Erupts.” The Current.

http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2014/11/21/bill-cosby-scandal-erupts-years-after-first-accusations-made-public/ accessed Nov 21, 2014.

CBC. (Nov28. 2014). “The Unmaking of Jian Ghomeshi.” The Fifth Estate. http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/ accessed Nov 28, 2014.

Douglas, Diana (2001). The Imagination Project: What is the Imagination? Unpublished thesis.

Evans, Sara M. (2003). Tidal Wave: How Women Changed America at Century’s End. NY: The Free Press.

Frost. (July 4, 2011). “A Generation of Lost Men.” http://www.freedomtwentyfive.com/2011/07/a-generation-of-lost-men/ accessed July 2011.

Hess, Amanda, “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet.”

http://www.psmag.com/navigation/health-and-behavior/women-arent-welcome-internet-72170/

Hubbard, Barbara Marx. (Fall 2014). “Co-creators Arising: Evolving a New You, A New We, and a New World.” The Shift Network. http://cocreatorcourse.com/course/CoCreators

Hubbard, Barbara Marx. The Foundation for Conscious Evolution. www.barbaramarxhubbard.com

Kingston, Anne. (Oct 6, 2014). “Revenge of the Teenage Girl.” MacLean’s Magazine.

McInturff, Kate. (2013). The Gap in the Gender Gap: Violence Against Women in Canada. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National%20Office/2013/07/Gap_in_Gender_Gap_VAW.pdf   accessed Nov 26, 2014

Mundy, Liza. (2012). The Richer Sex: How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners is Transforming Sex, Love, Family. NY: Simon & Schuster.

Nicholson, Sarah. (2013). The Evolutionary Journey of Woman: From the Goddess to Integral Feminism. Tucson, AZ: Integral Publishers.

One Billion Rising Campaign. http://www.onebillionrising.org/ accessed Nov 15, 2014.

Peay, Pythia (Mar-Apr, 2005). “Feminism’s Fourth Wave: A New Activist Movement is Gathering Women Across Faiths.” Utne Reader.

President Obama, (Fall, 2014.) “It’s on Us” Campaign PSA. www.itsonus.org

Rich, Adrienne. (1980). “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence” first appeared in the United Kingdom as a pamphlet pub1ished by Onlywomen Press.

Roth, Benita (2004). Separate Roads to Feminism: Black, Chicana, and White Feminist Movements in America’s Second Wave; Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. http://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=lYR0eE8hmN8C&oi=fnd&pg=PR10&dq=fourth+wave+feminism&ots=KlDkvTX6Np&sig=jmAOOTG3CcvQsMiMeFlnQWjqiF4#v=onepage&q=fourth%20wave%20feminism&f=false Accessed on Nov 2, 2014

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Ryan, M.J. ed. (1998). The Fabric of the Future: Women Visionaries Illuminate the Path to Tomorrow. Berkeley, CA: Conari Press.

Sax, Leonard. (2007). Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men. NY: Perseus Books.

Schaef, Anne Wilson. (1981). Women’s Reality: The White Male System and the Emerging Female System. NY: Harper & Row.

Schaef, Anne Wilson. (1987). When Society Becomes an Addict. San Francisco: Harper & Row.

Sinha, Maire. ed: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, (Release d on February 25, 2013). Measuring violence against women: Statistical trends. Component of Statistics Canada catalogue no. 85-002-X Juristat. ISSN 1209-6393 http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2013001/article/11766-eng.pdf   accessed Nov 25, 2014.

Solnit, Rebecca. (November 2, 2014). “Feminism: The Men Arrive! (Hooray! Uh! Oh!)” http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175917/tomgram%3A_rebecca_solnit%2C_the_war_is_over_%28if_you_want_it%29%2C_feminism_and_men/#more   accessed Nov 2, 2014

Spretnak, Charlene. (1982). The Politics of Women’s Spirituality: Essays on the Rise of Spiritual Power within the Feminist Movement. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books/Doubleday.

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Sturz, Rachel. (Nov, 2014). “Unprotected.” Outside Magazine. http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/water-activities/swimming/The-Sex-Abuse-Scandal-Plaguing-USA-Swimming.html Accessed Nov 20, 2014.

Temple-Thurston, Leslie and Laughlin, Brad. (2000). Marriage of Spirit: Enlightened Living in Today’s World. Santa Fe, NM: CoreLight Publishing.

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Wilber, Ken. (2007). The Integral Vision: A Very Short Introduction to the Revolutionary Integral Approach to Life, God, the Universe, and Everything. Boston, MA: Shambhala Books.

Wilber, Ken. (2007). The Integral Vision: A Very Short Introduction to the Revolutionary Integral Approach to Life, God, the Universe, and Everything. Boston, MA: Shambhala Books.

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Endnotes

[i] Leslie Temple-Thurston, www.corelight.org

[ii] See Peay (2005).

[iii] Sparked by women’s public allegations of abuse against CBC’s radio host Jian Ghomeshi, Sue Montgomery of the Montreal Star tweeted #BeenRapedNeverReported, supported by former Toronto Star writer Antonia Zerbisias. This has now gone global and viral, giving victims the space to come out of silence and speak their experience. There are ongoing discussions about why women do not report sexual assault, and the role allegations plays in disrupting the lives of those who have been accused of sexual assault or harassment, what it means to be a man and a woman. Women are using the public space of the internet to speak up and speak out. And women are beginning to be believed in a new way.

[iv] See Hess (2014) and Solnit (2014) for discussions on how young feminists (who are creatively using blogging as their way of consciousness-raising) are harassed and threatened with rape and even death ― their abusers doing so anonymously.

[v] CBC. (Nov28. 2014) allowed its own program Fifth Estate to investigate its role in the Jian Ghomeshi scandal.

[vi] David Carr (Nov 24, 2014) wrote about his (and the media’s) role in enabling a popular star like Bill Cosby ― alleged by many women to have assaulted them.

[vii] As reported on petition website www.care2.com (Dec 5, 2014)

[viii] Jian Ghomeshi and Bill Cosby just two examples being followed in the media in the Fall of 2014.

[ix]Large corporations are withdrawing their money and endorsement support. This happened for the NFL (Crest, Palmolive cancelled providing support for the NFL’s Breast Cancer month-long campaign.) CBC fired Jian Ghomeshi before criminal charges were laid. NBC has cancelled a planned TV show with Bill Cosby.

[x] See Witner (Sept 20, 2014) about the NFL’s response to the video of Ray Rice assaulting his then-fiancée.

Also see Sturz, (Nov 2014). As only one example of the epidemic of sexual abuse in youth sports, over 100 coaches in USA Swimming have been banned for life, “making this one of the worst sexual abuse scandals in the U.S Olympics sports world.”

[xi] Discussions of “rape culture” are happening on university campuses and the “No means No” campaign has shifted to “Yes means yes!” campaign (overt consent is needed.)

[xii] President Obama gave a PSA for the It’s on us Campaign to stop rape on university campuses: “It’s on us to stop sexual assault. It’s on us to get in the way before it happens. Get a friend home safe. To not blame the victim. To look out for each other. To not look the other way. It’s on us to stand up. To step in. To take responsibility. It’s on us, all of us to stop sexual assault.” www.itsonus.org

[xiii] Frost (July 4, 2011) quotes: “Sometimes I want to end it all, because no matter what I do, I’m fucked. Either I’m an impoverished slob for whom society has no use, or I’m an enslaved cog with no choice in the direction my life takes.”

[xiv] See Emily Watson (Sept 24, 2014), from Harry Potter fame, in her role as woman goodwill ambassador, spoke at the UN in order to launch the HeForShe campaign. It was a formal invitation to men to help end gender inequality ― as their issue too. “We are struggling for a uniting word but the good news is we have a uniting movement. It is called HeForShe. I am inviting you to step forward, to be seen speaking up, to be the he-for-she.”

[xv] See Solnit, (November, 2014) For example on Independence Day 2014 the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi , spoke about the horrendous rape problem India has. Speaking to parents he asked whether the parents of sons ask where they are going and what they are doing. “After all, a rapist is also somebody’s son. He also has parents.”

[xvi] Kingston (Oct 6, 2014). Although acknowledging the rising tide of new feminists, there is a double message in the title, “Revenge of the Teenage Girl” and the comment “underestimate them at their peril.” Why is it still seen as necessary to frame girls and women speaking out as so dangerous!

[xvii] “One Billion Rising Campaign.” Started in 2012, the campaign developed from Eve Ensler’s V-Day movement, and is a unity movement of both men and women. Knowing that song and dance can be forces of transformation, One Billion Rising uses a stirring song (“Breaking the Chains”) that has been choreographed for dance, as a call to rise up against violence against women and bring the world together. The record of these global events is very moving to watch. http://www.onebillionrising.org/

[xviii] See www.weday.com which describes “We Day is the movement of our times, empowering a generation of young global citizens through an inspirational event and a year-long educational initiative.” In Oct 2014, in 14 cities across Canada, the US and Britain, 200,000 youth were brought together to celebrate their ability to create local and global change. Called the “Me to We generation” these are people under 18 who are already creating the change they wish to see in the world

[xix] See the Barbara Marx Hubbard and the Shift Network (Fall 2014) and Barbara’s website www.barbaramarxhubbard.com

[xx] Peay (2005).

[xxi] Editor’s Note: Herrada is more explicit about the boundaries of his inquiry in his book, published subsequent to this Chapter. Herrada, G. (2013). The Missing Myth; A new vision of same-sex love. New York: SelectBooks Inc.

[xxii] ERA is the Equal Rights Amendment Act, a proposed amendment to the US constitution to guarantee equal rights for women. It first entered US Congress in 1923. In 1972 it finally was passed by both houses and went to the States for ratification. By the deadline of 1982, not enough States had ratified it for the constitution to be changed.

[xxiii] See the “Introduction” to Wolf (1993).

[xxiv] See Bailin’s chapter in Integral Voices, pp 168-169.

[xxv] See Schaef, Women’s Reality and When Society Becomes an Addict. Women’s Reality was my entry into waking up to women’s reality and the potential for change. What Schaef said in 1981 is still useful now.

[xxvi] Wilber, Ken (2007).

[xxvii] See Evans (2003) and Roth (2004). They both show that there were multiple feminisms that arose simultaneously ― Chicana, Black and White. Each group stayed in their own (what we would now call) silos.

[xxviii] We are impacted by our relationship with her/Her in all our relationships with the form world ― our bodies, our relationships, money, work, sex, and more. In my own experience, and in co-creating and co-facilitating the retreat experience called The Heart of the Mother ― healing and growing our relationship with 7 aspects of the mother/Mother (birth mothers, ourselves as mothers, mothering ourselves, Gaia, the Divine Mother, the Cosmic Mother, the Mystery) ― I have seen that we create who we think we are (our survival selves) in the gap (caused by any number of traumas) in our connection with our mothers (and also our fathers). Often, whether we respect and value our mothers, spills over in how we (mis)treat the earth and each other. For me, healing this gap is of vital importance for humanity ― men and women ― to move into the future we are imagining. www.theheartofthemother.com

[xxix] Using a phenomenological approach, Bert Hellinger, the founder of Systemic Constellation Work, along with hundreds of facilitators, have seen that there are natural orders that allow for the flow of life, the force of evolution, to move forward. Systemic Constellation Work (SCW) is an experiential, embodied systemic and dynamic process that works with the forces of life, allowing change and transformation to happen. It is used at multiple scales ― individually, family, larger collectives such as organizations, cities, countries and for large collective issues. It is a philosophy and a body of teachings, and it is a world-wide community of practitioners.

[xxx] Mundy (2012).

[xxxi] Barrell (Nov 20, 2012).

About the Author

Diana Claire Douglas, M.Ed. At her core, Diana is an artist allowing the creative force to move her and through her into expression. Presently, she is a Systemic Constellation Work (SCW) facilitator/trainer (both family and organizational), in the process of founding the Centre for Systemic Design, Internationally certified coach/facilitator of Organizational Dynamics. She is a core-team member of both Integral Cities and The Hague Center for Governance, Innovation and Emergence, co- evolving the SCW process on behalf of the collective. Her woman’s transformational journey is expressed in offering the retreat: The Heart of the Mother Experience. She has said YES! to participating in evolving and emerging into a new world. Diana is also a long-time student in consciousness and a visual artist, pioneering entrepreneur (services for adult survivors of trauma, and services for self-publishers), non-denominational minister, contemplative researcher (The Imagination Project) and published author (Always Becoming-Forever! A Journal of Conscious Living/Conscious Dying).

Contact: inspiritworks@sympatico.ca           www.theheartofthemother.com.

 

 

 

 

One thought on “2/15 – (Re)Joining the Conversation: Commenting on Integral Voices on Sex, Gender, and Sexuality: Critical Inquiries

  1. R. Michael Fisher

    “In form and content, this chapter [2, by R. Michael Fisher] is one of my favorites… a very creative approach…. Fisher was clear about how much work men have to do (including men in the Integral community)….I appreciate his ability to empathize with women…. My only suggestion: Fisher states that he is an ‘integral feminist,’ I can imagine what that means by his discourse… in this chapter, and yet I wish he had defined this directly.” – Diana Claire Douglas (2015)

    I appreciate the thorough embrace and critiques offered by Douglas (2015) on this book (Nicholson and Fisher) of which I have a chapter and in which I constructed the Index. I wish to respond to Douglas’s question above that zooms-in on what one always has so little space to discuss in a chapter of limited size when so many other points command attention. She’s wanting more juicy definitional and meaningful nuance in how I locate myself in my chapter. Rightfully so; her call is one for not just me to answer, but I think for all who call or are thinking of calling themselves an “integral feminist.” With the short space of this comment box, I’ll make a brief outline of how I conceptualize this for myself as an identity within the feminist discourse(s) and beyond.

    To state the practical first, then the theoretical framework second, I have to say that my desire to be an integral feminist, is one of longing for a ‘better’ and ‘better’ discourse on feminism and a lived sense of my relationship to that discourse—and I mean discourse in the full Foucauldian sense, not just some abstraction. A discourse of feminist persuasion is embodied in how I relate/empathize(?) to my cells, senses, perceptions and obviously my sexuality in all its dimensions from values, thinking, feelings, emotions, and how I go about having sex with whomever I choose, including myself. It is felt female/feminine even in a male body. There’s still lots to learn about that (including full-body nurturing collaborative ‘m/otherly’ (matrixial) orgasm transcending human-centric imaginaries), and yes, all those words are troubling on their own–but my experience is not troubling so much as I know it as so different than being raised in a male sexual body/dominant discourse. In my chapter I mention that I have gone through several internal subjective “trans” experiences to become a 60:40 male, meaning 60% female and 40% male, even if that may not be seen in stereotypical or biological change, it is there! It’s a huge commitment, at times near sadistic as oppression is more deeply understood within the pathological patriarchy. I feel unraveled in a good way, sometimes a terrifying way, but a desirous way to embody herstory as well as history. I ‘get into the skin’ of femaleness, you may want to say it in those terms. It means, to a large degree getting out of male privilege as much as that is possible in embodied ways. Being a full-blooded artist helps me in this “trans” journey (but that’s a larger topic).

    Theoretically: integral consciousness (as many have labeled), as something I experience and live into continually, not straightforwardly, invites me to critique and understand everything (both in my agency and communal modes), especially when it seems to be a construction of feminine, female, woman, feminist that is perhaps stuck in its own viewpoint and becomes an ideology (ism disease). I really prefer “critical differential integral feminist” (fifth-wave?) to nuance my identity, subjectivity, and place I write from most always. The critical keeps my sensitivity to my need to educate myself on oppression and liberation all the time, in the classical sense and postmodern sense—that’s good feminism in general. And the more newly discovered “differential feminism” and “differential consciousness” I take more or less from Sandoval (2000), where a feminist standpoint is shown to operate in very unique situated environments primarily (more typical, agues Sandoval of third-wave feminism). I won’t go on and on. I think a fourth-wave feminism is contested still, secular and spiritual (e.g., transpersonal and/or nondual) versions… no consensus. To say it bluntly, a critical differential integral feminist is operating on a theory of fearlessness and fearless standpoint theory (another long story of exploring the value of “2nd-tier” conceptualizations), because that is why and how “feminism” means anything really important to me. I agree with some of the most staunch feminists (e.g., Andrea Dworkin) who continually named the pathological patriarchy as “glued together by fear” (fearism)—that insight too often is still forgotten—and men and those who perceive and think and act like “men” too often remain blind to. Integral consciousness (e.g., Wilber’s version) clearly shows a developmental journey from fear to fearlessness, to fearless… a long road in terms of stages of growth, and an exciting road, in terms of state experiences (another topic). For more recent embodiments and theorizing of my interests in differential-integral consciousness in anti-oppression work and the issue of fear and females (see Fisher 2014, 2015).

    References

    Douglas, Diana C. (2015). (Re)joining the conversation: Commenting on Integral Voices on Sex,
    Gender, and Sexuality: Critical Inquiries. Integral Review, 2/15.

    Fisher, R. M. (2015). Females and fear: Contributions and challenges. Technical Paper No. 49. Carbondale,
    IL: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute. [I am giving talks on this topic as well to Women,
    Gender and Sexuality departments, when invited] [available http://csiie.org/mod/page/view.php?id=3%5D

    Fisher, R. M., and Massey, J. M. (2014). Decolonizing: What makes for a (r)evolution today?: Oppressor
    and oppressed in critical integral praxis. CSIIE Yellow Paper DIFS-12. Carbondale, IL: Center for
    Spiritual Inquiry & Integral Education. [available http://csiie.org/mod/page/view.php?id=3%5D

    Sandoval, Chela (2000). Methodology of the oppressed. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

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