September 17, 2012

Yoga & Feminism: Learning to Act Without Anger.

When I first started my current job, roughly eight months ago, I was told I would have to train my boss to do his job every time the position turned over, which would be every four years.

I had no idea what that meant, as I was new in my position myself and wondered what I could possibly teach this person to do.

As it turns out, just about everything.

It seems that the person in the position above me comes into it with not even a basic level of managerial skills—so, it is my job to teach that person how to run the organization. It is my responsibility to teach him the skills I have acquired over the last 25 years of my life.

I have asked myself, “Well, why don’t I just do it? Why can’t I have that job?”

It turns out that the one thing you need to have that position—the one thing that has almost nothing to do with one’s ability to do that particular job—is a PhD in a specialized field.

Yes, a specialized field.

And they wonder why there are no good managers in the world.

So what does this have to do with feminism? And, more importantly, what does it have to do with yoga?

For most of my life, I have worked for men who, in one way or another, were not incredibly qualified to do the job they were holding.

This has always bothered me (I walked around calling them FWG’s (Fucking White Guys)).

I was angry.

Generally speaking, these men did not know what they were doing and were abusive to everyone around them, due to their insecurities about their abilities.

When I came to the realization that I was, once again, in the classic position of training a man to do his job, it struck me as funny.

As I thought about it for the few hours following the epiphany, I discovered I had no anger for the situation I was in. I realized that I had let it go, because I knew that my boss and I were both caught in a system that we had not designed—we were only both playing our parts.

I thought more and more about my experiences with bad managers (I have had women managers in the past that were usually pretty astute) and realized that the only reason that this system persists is that there are those of us who, although we don’t like it, participate; my boss is not responsible for the system any more than I am—he is just the happy recipient of the perks of it.

So, what do I do?

I don’t really know yet.

I know that feminism scares a lot of people; I have dated men in the past who have said the word “feminist” with acid on their tongues.

The thing is, I know why women are abused by men. I know why abuse occurs. More anger and more abuse will not help an abusive situation. While anger is an understandable reaction, acting on that anger with violence will not produce peace…it will only serve to perpetuate more violence.

I have read many articles lately asking women to get mad, to “rise with a fist” against those who would seek to exploit, control, abuse or oppress.

I am all for self-defense—and I would never tell anyone to not protect themselves against abusive treatment—but, I would ask, when has violence and anger solved any problems?

I don’t see fighting and anger as a viable option any more.

The only thing I can think of, frankly, is to simply not participate—this is difficult, given that the dominant paradigm in the United States is patriarchal in nature.

I guess tough love has to be my answer: I won’t validate the system through participation.

Does that mean I have to quit my job? I don’t know, frankly.

What I do know is that I cannot act in anger against a system which is fueled by it.


Editor: Bryonie Wise

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