Utne Reader, August 1998

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Creedon, Jeremiah. (1998, August 1998). The Feminine Mystic. UTNE Reader, pg. 49.

The article Feminine Mystic discusses feminist writer, Carol Lee Flinders book, entitled At the Root of Longing: Reconciling a Spiritual Hunger and a Feminist Thirst. Flinders contends that feminism and spirituality, although beliefs that can be at odds with one another, should go hand in hand. The problem lies in peoples expectations. Spiritual seekers must learn to be silent and restrain the ego, resist desire and remove themselves from the world. But the feminine credo is opposite. Find your voice, know who you are, reclaim your body and its desires, and move in the world freely, without fear. Flinders believes that in identifying the paradox, she was able to come to the conclusion that both beliefs can and should be accommodated. Both originate in the same deep desire for self-knowledge and meaning. If feminism is to survive, then women need to accept that they are free to pursue both paths without criticism.

I agreed with the author, Carol Flinders about the need for both beliefs in ones life. Women can be self-assured and have a voice but do not have to give up spiritual values, and their inner voice, for the sake of feminism. I have never questioned the need to choose between the two, but I suppose it depends upon what kind of an environment one is raised in. I have always been offended by the militant feminism I have observed at times in the media. The women leaders come across as very harsh and defensive; their mission fueled by anger. However, as I read more and more about what it was like to be a woman in the past or how women are currently treated in some foreign countries, I can understand the fear of oppression and the desire to be treated with fairness and respect. I can imagine Carol Flinders vision of a feminist movement that walks alongside individual spiritual values. I believe it would come across as a movement with integrity as well as strength and would be more appealing to women.

This article appealed to me professionally because as a teacher, I am also a role model for young girls. It is important for me to understand womens issues and be aware of how to encourage girls to reach their full potential, without sexist stereotypes. In discussing this article with my colleagues, they too feel that feminism is a strong word, often carrying a negative image of women who think men are oppressors. They, too, like the idea of redefining the term feminism to take on a meaning that implies inner strength, freedom, and integrity for women. Would this be effective in the journey to reach complete equality between the sexes? My colleagues are women and they seem to think its a better way. They already practice it within their own lives and it seems to work.

-- Anonymous, January 10, 1999

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