Dear Patriarchy

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margins_800

Dear Patriarchy,*

You’re larger than I imagined you to be. Sitting here, sensing your hold, your spirit wide and so far-reaching, I am sad we’ve given you this much power.

I’m sad humanity has fed you, as we ate from your hand and your tightly binding words, demeaning and hurting women.

Put women in their place, you say.

I was just 12 when I heard your name and then instinctively shouted it. My fist was raised next to the kitchen table–so angry, but really it was because I felt powerless.

You looked like control. You sounded like superiority. You were so very different from Love. Even then, I sensed I was fighting against you. I just didn’t know who you were. I felt you everywhere, but I couldn’t pin you down. You were there, breathing down our necks and I wanted to reach out and grab you. You were elusive, like a vapor and yet thick, like fog on the Berg River.

You were always a coward, hiding.

You were visible only in how you played out through powermongers.

What is it about women that you hate so much?
Why keep women on the margins?
What would you gain by keeping women on the sidelines?

I think I understand more now. O, the power of women if we were fully unleashed. We would be women, with our same hearts, still serving, loving, nurturing, leading, teaching, but not from the sidelines. We would stand right in the center. This picture: male and female, working side by side.

It must be scary for you.

It seems like you are tightening the grip. There where you are welcomed, you have your fingers around the throat of every woman and you are squeezing all your hate and fear out. You laugh!

Keep women small, you say.

Tight. Small. Bound.

She doesn’t need school. What a waste!

Keep her uneducated.
Dismissed.

This is how it should be, you say.

How it’s always been.

You even use the Bible–this liturgy of Love poured out—to twist and turn it into hierarchies, forever-and-ever-amen.

But, darling, I see a new day coming.

Be quiet, you say. You have nothing of worth to offer.

As if my light came from another.

This is good–to sit here and see your evil tactics.

Today I am examining your every manoeuvre to keep us down, small, silent. To hurt, in the name of authority.

Your world may still be large, but it’s also small and tight. And it’s shrinking.

You must be getting nervous, flapping your tail like that.

I see a world where women are equal, fully engaged, crucial to the conversation. I see a world where women lead from their strengths and listen with receptive hearts. I see a serving of each other. I see a serving this world together.

I see girls running, free and loved.
I see women, their full size. Not shrinking, not over-compensating. Not hiding.
Not cowering. Not covering.
I see women taking our place where we belong. Owning our power.

Not power at the cost of another. Not your kind of power.
Not your kind that takes, starves, cuts, diminishes, demeans, hates, wars, orders, chokes, enslaves.

I see a power that brings, enlarges, serves, sees and loves.

And the way I see it: Your days are counted.
Just you wait, Patriarchy. Just you wait.

Revolutions start in the margins.

And Love wins.

With Love, from a different world,
Idelette

*Patriarchy:
– literally means “the rule of the father”
– a social system in which males are the primary authority figures central to social organization, occupying roles of political leadership, moral authority, and control of property
– it says fathers hold authority over women and children
– it implies the institutions of male rule and privilege and entails female subordination.
– it’s an unjust social system that is oppressive to women

_____________________

Hi SheLovelys,

I was rather nervous to launch our month with this post, because it’s not my usual sweet, loving, nurturing self. It’s a Mama Bear post and poured out of frustration. I wanted to clearly name some of what we are dealing with. I wanted to stand, unafraid. Not cocky, but strong. When we are part of repair work in our world, like rallying for girls’ education, I want to be mindful of the undercurrents that keep women globally from the centre of the conversation. These words flowed out of that place.

Our theme for November is MARGINS. We want to explore the edges and borders together. It’s a conversation that will take us many places—from standing and becoming more aware of who are in the margins, to living with more margin in our personal lives.

There is so much here, right?

Personally, we can think about our own margins, or boundaries. How do we create space for ourselves, and others, by setting margins?

How do we interact with edges and borders? (I sense our Myers-Briggs J’s might pipe up here!) : )

Do you live with margin in your life? Is it enough? I could certainly use more.

But then we are also aware of how society moves people to the margins. Together we want to think about those who live from the margins and how Jesus spent most of his time in the margins, de-centralizing power.

With this theme, I find I have more questions than answers: How do you relate to those who have been marginalized? Where you find yourself? Where are you in the picture?

As a woman, do you find yourself in the margins or in the center?

And: Do you have a story about meeting God in the margins?

This month, I will keep Rick McKinley’s book Jesus in the Margins: Finding God in the Places We Ignore (an oldie, but a goodie) close, as well as this lovely find, Soul Sisters: Women in Scripture Speak to Women Today that arrived in the mail just yesterday. I’d LOVE to hear which books you are reading that speak to you about margins.

However you participate in our month, we’d love to journey together, hear your comments and see how you process. Come link up with us to share your thoughts and perspective.

May Love meet us here,

xoxo

Image Credit: flickr | Design: Tina Francis

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Idelette McVicker
I like soggy cereal and I would like to go to every spot on the map of the earth to meet our world’s women. I dream of a world where no women or girls are for sale. I dream of a world where women and men are partners in doing the work that brings down a new Heaven on earth. My word last year was “roar” and I learned it’s not about my voice rising as much as it is about our collective voices rising in unison to bring down walls of injustice. This year, my own word is “soar.” I have three children and this place–right here, called shelovesmagazine.com–is my fourth baby. I am African, although my skin colour doesn’t tell you that story. I am also a little bit Chinese, because my heart lives there amongst the tall skyscrapers of Taipei and the mountains of Chiufen. Give me sweet chai and I think I’m in heaven. I live in Vancouver, Canada and I pledged my heart to Scott 11 years ago. I believe in kindness and calling out the song in each other’s hearts. I also believe that Love covers–my gaps, my mistakes and the distances between us. I blog at idelette.com and tweet @idelette.
Idelette McVicker

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Idelette McVicker
  • Saskia Wishart

    Idelette, you strong, powerful, revolutionary woman who loves.

    I am so grateful for you and for your voice.

    I read this post through once and the hair on my arms stood up. I read it again and tears flowed down my cheeks.

    I don’t know sometimes if I have the energy to keep fighting. And then you write something like this and I think “Yes! Okay! That’s why.”

    • Thank you, Saskia! Your words this morning … the very first comment I read when I woke up before running the kids to school, well, that just made my morning. Thank you so much. I was pretty nervous about running with it, but it came from a deep, clear place. Like you, this is why we do what we do. Holding hands today, Love.

  • Amy Hunt

    There’s so much here. Truly, so very much.

    I’m thinking about how I have tried to live in the margins. And I have this mind-picture of how I take notes . . . completely filling the margins and how they bleed into the center. This is the life He’s called me to live. And for me to accept it is my worship, indeed. To bring others along, too, fulfills His purpose, I see.

    Yes to all of this! (And I think of how “the ball” will be passed among this community through all of our stories . . . true beauty . . . such true grace.)

    • Thank you, Amy! I’m imagining your notebooks now … : ) From the margins, bleeding into the center. That is a beautiful picture.

      xoxo

  • jodylouise

    Love. What a great topic!

  • Monica

    Idelette;
    Love this post of empowerment! It encourages and inspires me to stand in God and move forward believing I am who He says I am and that I can do what He says I can do.

    Throughout my life I have lived in the margins, always feeling like an outsider, but I know this was God’s purpose. My feeling that I never seemed to fit in has helped me discern the same feeling in other women. I am moved to help women feel welcome, accepted and good enough. I know this is my calling – to educate, edify, encourage and empower women to be who God created them to be. Having been in retail and the fashion and beauty industries for years, I have seen women struggle with their value, worth and purpose. It breaks my heart. But God is faithful and He continues to reinforce the truth that my value and worth is in Him, and that I and His daughters are more than enough. This is what I am to live and teach.

    I encourage you and the She Loves mag writers to be bold and courageous in writing about margin. As you wrote, we are either in it or need more of it. Two books that have helped me are “Margin” by Richard Swenson and “Invitation to Solitude and Silence” by Ruth Haley Barton.

    Keep writing, encouraging and loving. I love this place!

    Monica

    • Anna

      Monica, this is beautifully written! I’ve always felt like an outsider as well, but I’ve come to realize that perhaps this is exactly where God wants me to be.

      THIS: “It encourages and inspires me to stand in God and move forward believing I am who He says I am and that I can do what He says I can do.”

      Thank you for your encouraging words and the reminder to Whom we belong and to live out our calling. Thanks for the book recommendations, as well. Will definitely check these out!

      • Monica

        Anna;
        My pleasure. May you be bold and courageous in Him.

        Monica

    • Dear Monica,

      Thank you so much for sharing from this very honest place: “My feeling that I never seemed to fit in has helped me discern the same feeling in other women.” I was sitting with my 9-year-old two nights ago when she’d been excluded by some of her friends. I asked her to remember how she feels, so next time she sees someone who feels left out, she can remember it and empathize. Like you have learned and how you are living it out …

      Thank you for your encouragement and I am certainly checking out your book recommendations! Thank you!

      xo

  • Anna

    Idelette, what an empowering post! Thank you for your strength and voice, yet still writing from a place of love. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for this month’s theme here at SheLoves:)

  • I love this, Mama Bear! Beautiful words, fantastic imagery of patriarchy twitching its tail so nervously. Thank you for this. And some thought-provoking questions at the end. I’m going to have to spend some time on those.

    • Thank you, Bekka! So appreciate your encouragement. Whew. xox

  • CG

    This isn’t merely a coincidence that I revisit SheLoves when YOU write about the core of my what’s been wrecking me for a long, long time. This must be God’s doing – only He knows what my truth is.

    • O, CG. I love seeing you here. Let’s draw this ugliness into the light and name it for what it is. And then, we stand in our beautiful, Divinely-ordained place. Where we were always intended to stand. YOUR voice is treasured here. Love xoxo

  • Sarah Richardson

    Roar, Mama Bear, roar. I didn’t think I could love you any more than I already do. I was wrong. Read this aloud to my sister this morning and we cried. THIS. This is why I LOVE this place. Why I love the support of this SISTERHOOD. Why I love you, fearless leader. xoxo

    • O, Sarah … You and your sister were reading it together? O, how I love YOU. Thank you … I know I am roaring, because we draw strength and courage from each other. Ask Tina, I was pretty nervous about today. Just because we’d had a big week and I didn’t know if we could go *here.* But we can and we need to and I am so thankful.

  • cjdeboer

    Oh wow. I had a very physical reaction to this – anxious at first, angry. Then hopeful, because I feel there is a shift – spaces like the one we have here are encouraging women to rise up. And I see women rising up all over the world. You have clearly stated what we’re dealing with in a strong and passionate voice — we need to hear it. Thank you friend. xo

    • So thankful to hear that, my friend. So appreciate you standing here with me and cheering me on and being such strength. Here we go! #roar

  • HOT DAMN, THIS IS GOOD.

    • Thank you and thank you and thank you. Thank you for cheering me on. xo

  • Megan Westra

    i LOVE this! my inner “J” is cheering, inspired and praying for a long nap time so i have time to externally process with keyboard and paper.

    thank you. excited for what november holds in store!

    • I love the J’s in my world. I am learning from them and embracing the goodness. I have an 8-year-old who’s definitely a J and it’s fabulous. I’d love to see what your process brings, Megan … xo

  • Esther

    I am so glad I happened upon you all! What amazing core strong woman! The more I read, the more I am intrigued. Wom(b)an all through history know deep hard and sometimes barren, although that is also where love can become rich and fertile! The margins is where the rejected King and the Kingdom was born! Your article, encouraged me to imagine how the margins of global wom(b)an can create a circle of love encompassing and nurturing the whole world. You are so right, when women who are on the margins begin to join hands to form a global circle of unity, universally we will be deeply and magnificently affected! Let healthy, strong love be the contagious virus that summons all to be included in the heart to heart song of life! One heart beat at a time until the rhythms of the earth become peace! This is our heritage as servants of the Lord! Let love Reign! xox,

    • Dear Esther

      Whew! I’ll need to chew on your comment … !

      I love this: The margins is where the rejected King and the Kingdom was born!

      So much to think about: “how the margins of global wom(b)an can create a circle of love encompassing and nurturing the whole world.” Out of the margins, creating this circle of Love and compassion. Beautiful!

      Thank you so much for visiting and depositing some of your heart.

      Love,
      xo

  • Bev Murrill

    Idelette, this could be the finest post you’ve ever written, and one of the finest and most empowering, brave and honourable posts I have ever read. It could be read to women and men’s groups in every nation and in every little dark corner where patriarchy wants to masquerade as concern, comfort, compassion… I will print it out and keep it where I can see it. Wow.. imagine learning it off by heart! Maybe I’ll have a go at that.

    I love: ‘You must be getting nervous, flapping your tail like that’!!!!

    You are such an empowerer of people who just want to be free! I haven’t met you in person but I love you for all you stand for and for the way you refuse to be cowed. My sort of person! You go girl! I’m with you!

    Honestly, I wish I could write more fullsomely of how much I admire what you are doing! You are one hell of a woman… I echo Sarah Bessey’s HOT DAMN! THIS IS GOODDDD!!!

    • Bev, I’m still processing your words … but let’s start with, THANK YOU! I’m feeling pretty grateful that we get to meet here and journey together, even though we haven’t met in person. I could say this right back: I love what you stand for and how you show up.

      much LOVE,
      xoxo

  • I got chills reading this, Idelette! You are teaching me so much about loving. Thank you!

    • Thank you, Christiana! So happy and thankful to see you here! Yay. And for your words. It means a lot. xo

  • “I see women taking our place where we belong. Owning our power.

    Not [power] that takes, starves, cuts, diminishes, demeans, hates, wars, orders, chokes, enslaves.

    I see a power that brings, enlarges, serves, sees and loves.”

    THIS right here is the IRONY of patriarchy! We want to: bring + enlarge + serve + love in ALL THE COLOURS of the rainbow, sing ALL THE notes.

    And patriarchy reduces women to sing one note, paint one shade, manifest one expression that is acceptable.

    And that’s just sad. Don’tcha think?

    // This post is gritty + gracious + generous. All things that you are too.

    Love you,
    Teen

    • Thank you for staying up and creating such a beautiful graphic. How far we’ve come from the girls at that table … !

      Yes, any construct that diminishes is sad.

      Thank you for all of this and standing with me on this.

      Love you right back.
      xo

  • Aaron

    Hi Idelette,

    I’m new hear, and came by from a tweet. Wow, thanks for that. I haven’t seen any guys posting here yet, but I wanted to give you a vote from our side, too. When I was in college, I thought the idea of The Patriarchy was a useless abstraction – there wasn’t an Office of the Patriarchy to go protest. Thankfully I’ve come a long way since then.Against people who are actually arguing for a patriarchy, both in the West and worldwide. Heroes like Malala Yousafzai show just how impoverished the male dominated view is, and how in the face of the worst oppression “This picture: male and female, working side by side” is going to win.

    • Hi Aaron! So appreciate you commenting here. We do have some wonderful men who write here + many who cheer us on. Always grateful to find more, like you, who share the vision for a different world.

  • Megan Gahan

    You know, after last month, most people would kick their feet up and take a breath. But YOU, you glorious woman, YOU bust out THIS. Absolutely stunning.

    “I see woman, their full size.”

    I just stared at this line. So powerful my friend. Ash may have dressed up as a lion last night, but you’ve definitely got him beat on the roar. Love you. Proud of you. With you.

    • Megs, I was ready to lie down, believe me.

      Thank you for your “with.” That’s the only way we can and (I want to) do this … xoxo

  • I can feel the earth shaking from this roar, my friend. Because it is gathering with it the collective roar from women everywhere.

    Thank you for this…

    • Thank you for this, Alece: “it is gathering with it the collective roar from women everywhere.” That would be my heart … O, yes, please.

  • pastordt

    Oh, yeah. Preach it! Beautifully done, Idelette. So grateful you’re out here, speaking truth to power. In a way, every one of us who is female – no matter our race, no matter our economic status – is on the margin somewhere. In the western world, this is more subtle, but it’s still here. It’s good to name it. Thank you for doing that.

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  • HBurns

    I am giving you a STANDING OVATION as tears pool in my eyes as I just finished reading this. Your roar is igniting freedom and giving voice to those who haven’t found theirs yet. I salute you Mama bear and I am honoured to stand with you.

    ‘I see a world where women are equal, fully engaged, crucial to the conversation. I see a world where women lead from their strengths and listen with receptive hearts. I see a serving of each other. I see a serving this world together.’

    Yes! Yes! Yes!

    I love you and honour you!

    Helen xoxoxo

  • KDunc

    Wow! Love it!

  • Idelette, this is amazing. It’s roar. And also it is so beautiful. Thank you, lion lady.

    • Thank you, Esther! This roar is rising from within all of us … that gives me such hope. It’s a new day dawning, like you said. Thank you for reading! xo

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  • I’m late to this party, but I just have to say: thank you Idelette. Thank you for believing in me, in us. I can’t wait to see what happens.

  • sandyhay

    Idelette, I have read and reread and reread this post. Patriarchy is the world I was born into, that I married into, the world of too many churches, a world I struggle with regularly. Like Bev, I will print this out and keep it close. I do have a voice now in my world, a small one but still a voice. You “lovelys” at sheloves have given me courage . and I am so grateful 🙂

  • UnitasAmor

    UnitasAmor

    Dear Idelette and bloggers, probably did not think a man would read and respond in your blog.
    Well where should I start; how I got onto you page, the patriarch within me not only as a father, husband, community leader, maybe at the essence of my soul.

    This morning singing in the shower, usually my own (or is it) compositions, I called it “One Word”. For a moment imagine, close you eyes and see how he gently, softly whispers “One Word” in your ear. You feel it, softly, commanding, a fragrance exploding within you, it becomes more and more, intoxicating, intense, yet fearlessly submit yourself to it, possessing you while birthing fresh and powerful visions and images, your heart pounding away as yesterday, tomorrow fades, no more pain, memory, inhibitions, fears, only the now, surreal, no spectators, becoming part of the One, the “One Word”. Now sing it.
    Words vanish, images and feelings that just cannot be expressed by words become the encompassing force, inspiring and possessing your soul and spirit as you become one, as you become so much more than two, two become ONE. No masks, ego, expectation, just the now, no tomorrow, no yesterday, no father, mother, child, no system, no patriarch… just ONE.

    One word, seeded, bears fruit, your very essence… the real reality. Just imagine what would manifest in this world. This world is a consequence of our realities, out thoughts, feelings, fears, egos, unless we change ourselves the world will never change and our perceptions of it will control us manifesting in us what it wants to manifest, we just become a consequence.

    Reading “Dear Patriarch”, I wept. I wept for a world lost in consequence, lost to itself, disillusioned, angry and selfishly clothed in its own selfish desires. Our world is controlled by our (or is it) desires, our intentions and reality is based upon what we want, expect and how the world should conform to that. So wrong.
    This world is perfect, its our playground. The first man did not need faith, hope and love, he was like a protected fetus that had to be “born” into this world, a world of time, measurement, introspection, evaluation, a world where the value of love had to be purchased through the pain of our own desires and expectations. Once that is found time vanishes, this world passes, there is no more yesterday or tomorrow, we become love, we become one.
    The world is so perfect, so to the patriarchal system, we created it for ourselves in our desires and fears, believing we can control, create or buy love. We believe we need it to protect ourselves, we rebel, fight, create political groups to empower ourselves, yet in all of this through our pain we all strive for the same and it becomes the process of our very education, the destruction of our egos which has always separated us from one another.

    I too a patriarch, controlling and managing, why? Driven by “unselfish” intentions, to love, provide and protect, but also subjected to the same playground and rules of consequence. Time and time alone is our teacher, not knowledge. Gradually we learn that in diversity is unity and the essence of all the parts make the One, much the same as our bodies. We may not like the brain sometimes, we may not like the heart, but somehow we will, whether we like it or not eventually learn to work together and that is not love, it becomes love.
    The heart can never become the brain as male never female, however together, we become complete and can never be without the other, we become so much more.

    Let as learn to accept one another in all our faults. Let us learn to love unconditionally and hence become and be love, let us learn that right and wrong is not the issue, it is not what we do, but how we do it. Let us realize that we did not have any choice in being born, who our parents will be and the circumstances we were born into, rather embrace it knowing that all works together for good.
    Let our words become us, not a consequence of society, lets create change by becoming it and above all, accept one another for what we are, LOVE!
    Lets learn to feel one another, each ones intention rather than his actions, not blinded by our egos and judging based on our own limited perceptions, be love, bare yourself, allow your word and soul to touch another, become one, The One, beyond time and space and not divided by our egos. Lets love and embrace the patriarchs like me, I need you so that I can become you.

    Love you all.

  • This is such a fantastic post. I appreciate the poetic strength. Simply beautiful. Also, “you are larger than I imagined you to be” perfectly sums up my experience over the last twelve months. It was unsettling at first, but now that I feel I have taken stock of my surroundings, I’m figuring out how to step into my own. Thank you for this encouragement!

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