Thought Leader, Executive coach and facilitator, Karen Downes explains the new paradigm of ‘Feminine Intelligence’ emerging as an active response to our turbulent times.
The world over women and men are acknowledging that the system we were born into is no longer serving us. The current governing system of patriarchy has determined our way of thinking and acting for over 5,000 years. Those of us working in the corporate environments with even the most competent business leaders can see the cracks occurring. The way we work isn’t working!
People are waking up, conscious of the costs to our planet, aware of the sacrifice in their personal lives, and starting to notice how they have adapted to currents systems without realising the cost. A new paradigm is needed to enable a more positive future. However even if we had a description of the new paradigm the question would remain….’What will it take to shift from the old to the new?’
Experience and research tell us that paradigm shifts require a higher level of consciousness than the one we currently operate from. First we must examine the ontology that sustains the current paradigm: the predominance of ‘masculine’ values and strengths – for example the sanction of physical strength in service of competing to win. The next step is to establish the new principles needed. What we see as essential in areas of both personal and leadership development is a restoration of what are seen as the ‘Deep Feminine’ values and wisdom that have been subordinated and marginalised for centuries. Dominant masculine strengths must be rebalanced with the feminine to restore wholeness and integrity to our internal and external systems. Such strengths include compassion, listening, equanimity and the ability to develop deep emotional bonds.
The starting point is with ourselves. We must recognise the part each of us has played in sustaining the current system and acknowledge the shift we need to make in thinking and acting to dismantle the out-dated patriarchal system. This is no mean feat! As we begin to regard, respect and develop in ourselves the ‘deep feminine’ qualities that exist in both men and women we can begin to restore balance.
We know that change is difficult and most commonly triggered by threat or crisis. And there are plenty of catalysts today to alert and alarm us! But rather than react in fear, and attempt to restore ‘business as usual’, evolutionary consciousness demands instead that we use our higher intelligence – our capacities of intuition, imagination and vision – to create change.
To demonstrate and affirm this idea, I spoke recently at a women’s leadership forum and posed this question ‘Has there ever been something that happened to you which caused an immediate shift in values and resulted in a significant change in behaviour?’.
The masculine tends to exhibit more of the left-brain attributes of logic, linear analytical thinking, structure and competition. These left-brain attributes support a separation- based consciousness: a separation of head and heart; a hierarchical structure for gender, race and class and a veneration of the male. Right-brain attributes of relatedness, intuition, creativity, and nurturing are less valued in our current system, and therefore related to the feminine.
The women responded all with a similar answer: ‘the day I found out I was pregnant, life was never the same when I knew I was carrying my baby’. Of course not all women will bear children, but this symbolises the kind of higher intelligence needed to create the future. The somatic and energetic intelligences that call us to change based on hope and possibility will protect and nurture because the future of life is more important than the past or the immediate and extends well beyond our own personal desires.
The US election outcome underscores the need for us all to do the necessary inner work, to examine the ways we have internalised patriarchal values or become habituated in responding to challenges from fear. If we do not raise our awareness, notice, acknowledge and heal this within ourselves, the dominant masculine values will continue to play out and create chaos in our world.
In the US suicide rates began to surge just as the Global Financial Crisis was making landfall in late 2008. While suicide rates increased slowly between 1999 and 2007, the rate of increase more than quadrupled from 2008 to 2010. There were 6,708 suicides in the UK and ROI in 2013. In 2013, 6,233 suicides were registered in the UK. This corresponds to arate of 11.9 per 100,000 (19.0 per 100,000 for men and 5.1 per 100,000 for women). The male suicide rate is the highest since 2001. The suicide rate among men aged 45-59, 25.1 per 100,000, is the highest for this group since 1981.(reference:Samaritans.org)
We need more unapologetically courageous women who are willing to own their power, authority and agency, and more men willing and able to bring their feminine values and strengths to address the problems we face, to create new systems and social structures. Men and women have for centuries been force-fed a narrative of win-lose, causing disempowerment, self-doubt and shame, revealed in the shocking statistics of male and young female suicides. It is time to transform the way we live and lead.