MindStretch: Exploring Gender beyond Patriarchal Patterning

Welcome to this #MindStretch where together we explore #Gender beyond #Patriarchy…
In this session patriarchal gender understandings of God and of humanity are explored with the intention of discovering renewed and more genderfulsome thinking in this regard.
How patriarchal is your mindset?
Is your view of gender largely patriarchal?
Would you like to stretch your mind and be updated?
If so keep reading through this 3 step #MindStretch process
It will help you discover new ways of thinking about gender and societal relationships.
This session will make more sense if you have already watched
the previous three YouTube sessions
which are based on the
patriarchal culture of violence
in the South African Context.

All these sessions are based on three understandings:
1. God is Love;
2. On the first (and greatest commandment) love God and the second, love your neighbour and yourself 3. that all humankind is created in God’s image
Each and every one of us is made in God’s image from a place of love and blessing and for loving respectful relationship.
The trinitarian God models this loving relational interaction for us.
God- as father or mother which are interchangeable names for God- are equal in power with Jesus the son and universal Christ and also equal with the all wise Holy Spirit. As parent, as incarnate person and as spiritual paraclete, there is no hierarchy in their positioning or in their interactive functioning.
Imagine a circular pattern with three persons in relational harmony full of giving and sharing without any hierarchy of power

Greening Growth Trinity by Rev’d Margie Visser

In contrast to these holy examples of shared respectful relational power (pictured above),
patriarchy adopts definite hierarchies in terms of power. Patriarchal ways of understanding gender insist on either male or female being the only two accepted genders with only cisgender, heterosexual orientation.
Therefore, patriarchal gender patterning is dualistic and comparitive- it is either / or type of thinking as opposed to inclusive of both male and female people and all genderfulsome people too, as being recognised as equal both in worth and value.
Patriarchy is intent on power-over control of the male over the female.
Rethinking patriarchal scriptures thus encourages humankind to
Ephesians 5: 21 Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Each of us loving his/ her partner as him/her self, and being respectful of each other.
Godly inspired relationship is much more inclusive because God created and continues to create genderfulsome humanity.
Every human being reflects part of God’s multifaceted image.

God is like a multifaceted diamond. You and I
reveal one face of God and some part of God in some way
.
In order to renew our patriarchal mindset patterning we move now into a 3 step #MindStretch process where the:
First step is awareness;
The second step is acknowledgement of what is;
And the third step is adjustment to what is preferable both for us and also acceptable and respectful of others situations.

Awareness

involves taking an open-minded look at gender symbolism –
its roots it meanings and the implications thereof.
Remember renewing the mind and attitude is an activity recommended throughout the scriptures because it is the path to growth and transformation. (See my post with a list of scriptures referring to mind renewal and mindstretch).
Did you know that
Male and female sex symbols are ancient symbols based on Greek letters
according to William T. Stearn “The Origin of the Male and Female Symbols of Biology” by
Taxon , Vol. 11, No. 4 May, 1962, pp. 109-113.
Found at symbol origins
Male based on Mars / Thouros (Greek)
And Female based on Venus / Phosphorus (Greek)

The male symbol is sometimes thought to represent the shield and spear of Mars suggesting violence as symbolic of masculinity.
The female symbol is sometimes thought to represent the mirror of Venus suggesting vanity as symbolic of femininity

There is non-binary gender symbolism for gay and lesbian people
And this variation for transgender LGBTQIA+ people


Click for a more detailed range of non-binary gender symbolism by Brenik to see examples representing gender queer, bisexual, gay, hetero, intersex, lesbian, non-binary, transgender, transsexual, asexual and genderfluid people.

This is a Feminist activist icon.
This is a symbol indicating strength and perseverance with a clenched fist of determination.
This symbol speaks about women fighting back against femicide, injustice and violence against women- a praiseworthy pursuit.
However, violence itself is not the answer to turning the tide against injustice.
These symbols originating from astronomy
and ancient gods before being used within science
and now employed to promote gender equity and empowerment, are
recognizable insignia for us.
Bearing this symbolism information
in mind, we move into part two
of this #MindStretch exercise
which is …

Acknowledgement


This is a largely meditative exercise
to renew our minds regarding patriarchal programming
that holds us in a violent gender- biased power struggle

while Earth struggles to survive human-induced destruction.
There is no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed of
our learnt patriarchal mindsets.
Rather be curious and simply acknowledge
Where thoughts feelings and
resultant behaviours are
patriarchally patterned.
Ask yourself ???????


What is my opinion of myself, my partner, my neighbour, my community
and the environment?
Do I love and respect myself, others and the environment adequately?

Could I improve on this with the help of God’s Spirit?
God’s kin-dom view for humanity,
values mutuality, and care of the self and all neighbours
according to Holmes (2008:52–53).
Whilst we have human rights laws
in place to prevent, prescribe, and punish,
the laws of the universe
seem far more focused on interconnection,
restorative justice and mutual co-operation.
Lastly, we move now to the third step…

Adjustment

Adjustment of what is…
This is an imaginative and creative step so please pause this now and gather a few supplies like blank paper
and coloured pencils or paint.

Find a few old magazines which you can cut up and make into a personal collage
if you prefer not to draw 🙂
This adjustment #MindStretch exercise
will help us consider the issue of genderfulsomeness.
Ask God to give you insight on
What has influenced your thinking
in the past.
Ask God to provide you with the imagination needed in order to
bring renewal of your thoughts
and attitude of mind.
Ask God to help you to: expand,
adjust and stretch your views regarding gender and
gender-biased violent practices;
Regarding relationships; and regarding the care of the environment.
Stretching and shifting by using creative symbolism
brings new meaning to our lives.

MindStretching helps us to think feel and behave differently.
To love and respect ourselves and others and the environment
In non-violent and improved ways.
#MindStretching brings transformation – a biblical term that ushers in the
kin-dom that God envisions for us all.
Find your quiet place and use your paper and coloured pencils. Cut out pictures and words that speak to you in some way or just stand out when you are paging through the old magazines thinking about genderfulsomeness. Use these cut outs to create a collage of images that speak to you…
To see some examples of collages watch my YouTube Session 4: Mindstretch Exploring Gender beyond Patriarchal Patterning. In this video you will see my examples of
expanded ways of thinking about the patriarchal male and female symbols- where I view the male symbol as being likened to patriarchal heterosexual men (think colonisation) having harnessed Earth’s potential for predominantly their own personal progress, power and control. Holding to this thought pattern,
the female symbol depicts Earth with women held under in submission, and subdued, in contrast.

As a solution, a mindstretch renewal of the mind regarding gender symbolism is sugested
in order to incorporate an incarnational theological and
cosmic view
more suitable for our context. Here is my creative drawing in this regard with the accompanying explanation below

It is kairos time for all genders to turn towards Earth and towards each other
with compassion, with a balanced desire for true equality and with a shared passionate
energy to save our common home.

To quote Hallet, ‘symbolism and power are the two major variables that pervade all social life’ (Hallett, 2003). No one can effectively exist socially outside of some system of symbolism regarding where we fit in (Lacan, 1993, p. 179).
Using the imagination to envision a preferred future
depicted by your personal symbols, drawings and pictures is a start
(Kenny et al., 2019: Komporozos-Athanasiou & Fotaki, 2015) for us as human beings made in God’s image.
If we want to fulfil a role as helpful contributors to society,
we must develop our own capacity of imagination in order to
become part of the solution to the multiple challenges we face
particularly in the South African culture of patriarchal violence.
So I encourage you to do this creative exercise
It will assist you in being able to discern where you fit in and
how you would prefer to tell your story
without the influence of the patriarchal patterning
that has imprinted onto your mind since childhood
due to the culture and society norms in which you were raised
particularly if you were raised in South Africa.
The work titled ‘Spirituality, Symbolism and Storytelling in Twentyfirst-Century Organizations: Understanding and addressing the crisis of imagination’ by Fotaki, M., Altman, Y., & Koning, J. (2020), describes spirituality as a set of beliefs concerning a person’s subjective perception of relationships. This particular view of spirituality most probably includes: a person’s view of the ‘the sacred’;
a person’s self-perception, values, morals and behaviour;
and a person’s view of socio-cultural community on both a micro and macro scale.
As human beings we are made in the likeness and image of God-
we are the imago Dei
Let us tap into the original blessing of seeing ourselves
as versions of the Imago Dei.
What could your symbolism be within a genderfulsome,
non-violent culture?

I hope you have found this thought provoking and inspirational?!
Please view this on my YouTube channel Rev Margie Visser in order to see examples of collages. Please like and subscribe on my YouTube channel and share this with your friends. Why not do a group or online workshop based on this idea?!
I’d love to hear from you so post in the YouTube comments or email me Margie.visser1@gmail.com and share your drawings and thoughts with me.
Follow me on Twitter/ Instagram @margiezargs

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