Friday, October 15, 2010

To Dilma Rousseff: the feminine and the current politics

Leonardo Boff's weekly columns are available in Spanish from Servicios Koinonia. Some of his older columns are available in English at

by Leonardo Boff (English translation by Rebel Girl)

Anthropological thought in recent years has shown that male-female are not autonomous entities, but principles or sources of energy that continually build the human being as man or woman. The latter are the result of the actions of the above underlying principles that are fulfilled in the one and the other in different densities.

The feminine in men and women is that moment of completeness, of abyssal depth, of the ability to think with one's own body, to decipher hidden messages under signs and symbols, of interiority, of a sense of belonging to a larger whole, of cooperation, compassion, responsiveness, of creative and nurturing power and spirituality.

Masculinity in women and men expresses the opposite pole of the human being, the pole of reason, objectivity, order, power, even aggressivity and materiality. The movement for change, for work, for the use of force, for clarity that distinguishes, separates and sorts, belong to the masculine in women and men. The ability to rest, care for, conserve, love unconditionally, perceive the other side of things, cultivate the space of mystery that always challenges curiosity and desire for knowledge, belong to the feminine in men and women.

Note: I am not saying that men do everything that involves the masculine and women all that the feminine expresses. What we're dealing with here are the principles present in one or the other, structuring the personal identity of man and woman.

The drama of the patriarchal culture is still the fact of having usurped the male principle only for men making them deem themselves the sole possessors of reason, control, building of society, and relegating to the private sphere and dependent tasks women, often thought to be appendages, objects of adornment and satisfaction. By not integrating the feminine in themselves, they became rigid and dehumanized. On the other hand, by preventing women from fulfilling the masculine within themselves, they weakened them and gave rise to a sense of incompleteness within them. Both are impoverished and have crippled the construction of a single, diverse, reciprocal and egalitarian human being.

Overcoming this cultural barrier is the main prerequisite for more inclusive gender relations, ones that are fair to each party.

The worldwide feminist movement put the project of patriarchy that had dominated for centuries in check and deconstructed gender relations organized under the sign of oppression and dependency. It opened more symmetrical and cooperative relations. Such developments hint at the dawn of a rotation of the cultural axis of humankind. Everywhere a new type of manifestation of the feminine and masculine in associative terms is being outlined, one of cooperation and solidarity in which men and women are welcome with their differences in the framework of a deep personal equality of origin and destiny, task and commitment to building more benevolence towards life and the Earth in more participatory and supportive ways.

But at the present time we are experiencing a unique situation for humankind. As a species we are at a new threshold. Global warming, the depletion of natural resources and services, the scarcity of drinking water and the stress on the life-system and Earth-system have brought us to this dilemma: either we give birth to ourselves as a different human species, with a different consciousness and sense of responsibility, or we go to meet the darkness. Brazil, given its privileged eco-geographical situation, should play a central role in the construction of the new balance of the Earth or we risk an irreversible path.

At this point as never before in history it is necessary to live out the values of the feminine, of the anima, as we described them above: giving a central place to life, caring, cooperation, compassion and universal human values.

Dilma Rousseff, as a woman: wake up to your unique historical mission. Your candidacy is providential for Brazil and for the balance of Mother Earth. May the voters, men and women, when they elect you President, become architects of a regeneration process and a good destiny for all.

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