Alanis Morissette: Until Patriarchy Ends, Feminism Is Still Mandatory (But So Is Integrating Our Masculine and Feminine Parts)

Image: WENN

Image: WENN

I was born in 1974, long after the war. During the war, women went to work and men went to war. And women proved their competence and proved their capacity to "do everything men can do, only better." And that was an important link in the chain of our evolution of our feminist/patriarchy conversation. But here's what it didn't do: it didn't afford connection, it didn't afford intimacy. And it also had us, those of us with female bodies, running counter to how we're built. Because apparently, according to some studies, men get their testosterone from their testes and women get a large amount of their testosterone from their adrenal glands. So often women have been exhausted and masculinized under the guise of being feminist.

The feminist movement was really about women fostering their masculine qualities. Which was lovely and an important part in the journey, but was it entirely feminism? Not really.

With the word "feminism," context has to be taken into account. If we're living in a disempowered masculine climate — patriarchy, which we still are — then feminism is mandatory. Because the feminist movement will lead us towards wholeness by default.  There will be a point, hopefully sooner rather than later, where masculine and feminine are simply aspects of humanity. And we can access them depending on where we are.

We've been focused on the gender wars for a long time, but at this point I'm focused on how to integrate the masculine and feminine aspects into both men and women. So it's less about gender and more about the masculine and feminine qualities.

I believe that we're all unique filters. On the continuum, some of us err on the side of being more masculine and some of us err on the side of being more feminine.

I don't really have a value assessment of what is most important or what the best ideal balance is, because there's no real perfect version of it. But to the degree that fostering the masculine or the feminine in all of us could bring us towards wholeness, then I'm a big fan. In terms of where we're moving, being supported by the masculine/yang and the feminine/yin is going to lead us into salvation, without question.

So that means things like, making it ok to reach out and to be interdependent. That we can be applied and action oriented, as well as receptive and yielding, as the case most needs. To let people know that we need, to let them know that we have wants and needs. But we need a value system that points toward the truth north of allowing feelings and allowing consideration for the body, for the somatic aspect of life. To integrate all the aspects of art and industry, whether it's the financial realm or the political realm or the artistic realm or the education realm, there needs to be a feminine quality that is imbued into all these aspects of life. That will only bring us to a more connected, more harmonious, more functional version of life. And thankfully, I think that's where we're going. 

When I'm holding my baby child and nursing him, the femininity is mandatory. When I'm carrying my son across a bridge, the masculine is mandatory. So it really depends on moment-to-moment, that we would have the freedom to access the feminine and the masculine, depending on what we needed most. And that we are not locked into either of them.

Holland, 2002 / Image: WENN/Peter Pijlman

Holland, 2002 / Image: WENN/Peter Pijlman

The context that we're in demands that we keep feminism alive until there is more wholeness and more consciousness achieved around the idea of fostering both the feminine and the masculine in both men and women. It isn't really about gender, although we do have to take our biological makeups into account. And not to do so would be dangerous to our health and well-being.

What happened in the past—and at the time, this was exciting if not misguided—was that if you were masculinized, and you played within the paradigm of “win-lose” and got in the ring with patriarchy, you were considered a feminist. Certainly it got us into the game, but it was an incomplete idea. Then the pendulum swung to the other end of the continuum, so if you were hyper-sexualized and disempowered feminine, you were considered "the new feminist."  But really to me, the blending of the yin and yang—humanism— is about attempting to be someone who's integrated. Someone who has the capacity to access both the feminine and masculine depending on what is needed at any given moment. There is freedom in this, and power, and healing and fierce grace.

As told to Nika Mavrody