Oppression is not gender-based or race-based…

I’ve been reading, Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World, by Bill Plotkin. This very well could be a handbook for the future of community growth models and life stages of transformation… so appropriate for our time. Plotkin’s premise focuses on stages of development that are uniquely tied to our relationship with all things on this Earth. He sees our culture as very much stuck in a “path-adolescence,” mainly because we have not figured out yet how to appropriately deal with adolescence itself… which he says is the most important period in current humanity’s life cycle.

I greatly appreciate what Plotkin writes in regards to the gender-neutrality of the life stages of community. The starkest differences

between masculine and feminine are greatest in early adolescence (stage 3 [of 8!]). Because this is the stage in which Western societies have stalled, and because our societies are not informed by the deep structure of human development, gender differences have seemed bigger and more definitive to us than they really are.

With the social advances brought by feminism in the late twentieth century, some have contended that healthy female development differs from that of male development, and that the imposition of male patterns on women continues the centuries-old oppression by the patriarchy. While I agree, my perspective is somewhat different. There is no question that women have been economically, educationally, and politically oppressed in patriarchal societies (as have most minority and lower-class men), but both men and women have been cut off from soul and nature, and both have consequently faced great difficulties in maturing. Although healthy female development is different from patho-adolescent masculine development, this is equally true for healthy male development.

The essential issue concerning oppression is not gender-based or race-based but ego-centric versus soulcentric. In my view, the core problem with patriarchal (and matriarchal) societies is their patho-adolescent egocentrism, which generates economic-class oppression, not their conspicuous suppression of the feminine or glorification of the (immature) masculine. Men have no monopoly on egocentrism. Men and masculinity are no more the problem than are women and femininity. I believe that most people would agree that we will not create a healthier society by affording women the equal right to be as pathologically egocentric as a large proportion of men have been for millennia, to acquire the equal opportunity to excel in the patho-adolescent, class-dividing world of prestige, position, and wealth, academic and corporate ladder-climbing, and power broking. Rather, mature men and women must join together to foster soulcentric development for both genders and for all races and cultures. (25) (Italics mine)

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