Saturday, 15 March 2008

An Inner Patriarch

In Her book “The Shadow King: The Invisible Force That Holds Women Back”, Dr Sidra Stone writes about a self she calls the Inner Patriarch that exists often unconsciously in women.

‘What does the Inner Patriarch expect of women? The Inner Patriarch thinks that a good woman should be supportive, receptive, loving, giving, compassionate, understanding and nurturing. She should not be too powerful, and she should not take up too much space. He likes his women submissive and tame. He fears what will happen to the world – and to the women themselves – if women were to stand up and take power either in the outer world or in the more personal world of relationship.’

I heard an example of the Inner Patriarch’s voice on BBC radio 4 the other day. A second generation British Sikh man was talking about the time when at the age of 30, and after many attempts by his parents to arrange a suitable wife for him, he finally told his mother that he wanted to marry a woman of his choice. His mother held very traditional values about the kind of woman that would be suitable for him – values that had clearly been passed to her from her mother. She told her son that he should choose a woman that was shorter than him, faired skinned, good at house work, a good cook and obedient!

The Inner Patriarch exists in both men and women. Once we can hear its voice and separate from it, this self need no longer insidiously pass on the values of a patriarchal society from generation to generation. All of us - whether male or female - will gain more conscious choice about how we handle our social and personal relationships.

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