It has been just incredible the last few weeks to see these high profile men who have abused their power for decades popping up in headlines. After repeatedly exposing themselves in private, their behavior is now being exposed worldwide. Ha!

It is just amazing to realize that the world I live in is choosing to agree that this behavior is not cool. I cannot tell you how liberating it feels. It’s almost like receiving an unexpected gift in the mail. It just buoys my spirits!

One of the very significant undercurrents of this movement is the fact that men are also coming out and offering their stories of being objectified and used. They are sharing their histories of abuse, and choosing to open up about feelings even though it is typically culturally expected for them remain closed and stoic.

Although looking at issues in “masculine” and “patriarchal” behavior is, of course, relevant, I think it is helpful to take gender out of our language sometimes. This way we can see the “problem” from a more all-encompassing perspective.

This month for my book club I’ve been reading Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Christiane Northrup, M.D. and I just love a shift in language she offers. Instead of just referring to “Patriarchal Societies”, she offers the phrase “Dominator Societies”.

“Most modern civilizations are characterized by the belief that the intellect is superior to emotions, the mind and spirit are superior to and entirely separate from the body, and masculinity is superior to femininity… our current worldview is only about five thousand years old. Before that, peaceful societies flourished for thousands of years. In these societies women held high positions, art flourished, and religion included worship of the Goddess.

Over time, however, societies and the gods they worshiped changed. Dominator tribes in which authority was vested in men and fathers emerged. These societies were characterized by violence, warfare, and the subjugation of the masses by a relative few who were considered “chosen” (P. 4).

I just love how she offers this word Dominator because it gets to the root of the problem. This isn’t about all men versus all women. This is about an aspect of humanity that has, like a noxious weed, grown out of control and stifled the other plants in the garden.

Although the problem of domination seems to be more pervasive from men towards women, it also happens from men to men, and from women to men.

I am a deep believer that in order to transform society, we must be willing to examine and transform every broken aspect of it that lives inside ourselves. Each of us contains both the dominator and the dominated. Each of us contains the archetypal “masculine” and “feminine” – in their most positive and negative potential.

When we repeatedly blame “men”, we shortchange ourselves a wider view of the problem… which is an entitled dominator energy that we have collectively agreed to not intercept for millennia.

Essentially, this is not about men and women, this is about human rights. What is coming forward is a collective outcry that says each of us is entitled to a healthy boundary around our physical bodies. Each of us has the right to personal and emotional safety. And we are now ready to step up and burn down the archetype of the dominator to protect those rights.

How exciting.


Photo: Ryan Tang from UnSplash

*I’m @arielkiley on Instagram

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2 thoughts on “The Problem is Not “Men” but “Dominators”

  1. Bravo, Ariel. Right now it seems like the dominators are mostly men — and they are, because men hold more positions of power and can dominate those who don’t, who are mostly men. This is human rights — exactly.

    1. Oops, correction. “can dominate those who don’t hold positions of power, who are mostly women.” Thinking of Kevin Spacey and of cults where men dominate other men sexually.

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