Feminism as a Path to Healing || Mary Coday Edwards

Blog 18: Feminism as a path to healing

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.
July 25, 2017

“What I do is not up to you,” Wonder Woman schools Steve Trevor when he decrees: “I can’t let you do this.”

In other words, patriarchal values of London’s World War I don’t control her. When men try to define her, confine her, or exclude her, she just goes about being herself, listening to her intuition, and continuing her mission of eliminating as much suffering as she can.

Of course, supernatural powers make for a pretty good backup.

But first, as a disclaimer: patriarchal systems are not necessarily male values (more of that in next month’s blog).


For many years I avoided using THAT WORD – feminism. While I was against unjust patriarchal social institutions that kept men and women as children, THAT WORD was too loaded, so I focused my energy on ecological injustices and the complex web of life we’re all participants of. After all, I reasoned, if we’re all in this together – down to the soil molecules we depend on for food – surely intellectually we as a species would come to our senses and want ALL life to flourish. That’s in our best interests, as members of humanity.

And a definition of feminism includes this relationality, this interconnectedness. If we’re all in this together, why should anyone/anything be excluded from decision-making in our political, educational, and economic institutions?

Alas and yes – I was so naïve.

True, for almost 20 of those years I lived and worked in Third-World nations, hearing often enough of Westerners forcing their values on the rest of the world as a form of colonization.

But a Human Rights Conference in Peshawar, Pakistan, put that myth to rest, as well as a wise, male Iranian professor, who stressed that these were basic HUMAN rights. But yet, in order to not offend, I still came about it from an indirect way.

And who did I worry of offending or angering?

Those with vested interests in continuing the status quo, those who stood to lose through the demise of the patriarchal system. As a child of patriarchy, I was waiting for permission and, therefore, living with an unconscious filter: If I’m nice enough, they’ll let me play.

That’s not a filter Wonder Woman lives by.


FEMINISM basically means equality and being able to make the choices that are right for you – whatever your gender is. Webster formally defines it “as the policy, practice, or advocacy of political, economical, and. social equality for women.”   

Feminism includes the belief that being a woman or gender non-conforming person is as valuable as a being a man – not better than.

And in its quest for social justice, feminism calls out those who use their power and position to abuse the marginalized. Not a man-hater, Wonder Woman wasn’t into protecting anyone’s ego – regardless of gender – in her mission to end suffering (see Note 1).

Irreconcilable with feminism is PATRIARCHY, defined by Webster as a social system in which the chief authority is the father or eldest male member of the family, clan, or ruling system. Breaking this down:

  • Like a pyramid, an extremely small number of people hold all the power over the majority.
  • Since the “fathers” only qualify to rule, it presupposes male superiority.
  • Thus characterized by androcentrism, the dominant norms and values center on male perceptions, interpretations, experience, needs, and interests, thereby marginalizing women, intersex people, and non-binary gendered people.
  • This minority decrees who is worthy to access material goods and the means to that, such as education, jobs, and political influence.
  • Generally speaking, the tasks allotted to men will be more highly valued and rewarded than those tasks allotted to women.


Daily I encounter souls deeply wounded by patriarchy and its values – both men and women.

Sensitive, spiritual, and creative, they come to me cut off from the deepest parts of who they are – parts generally seen as weak by our culture and therefore nonacceptable. They conformed in order to avoid pain, humiliation, ridicule, and often familial ostracization.

Their journeys back to wholeness include not only taking individual responsibility for their own responses and the re-membering of these shamed bits, but acknowledging the social oppression that colluded in these woundings. And then taking the next step – working to dismantle these societal norms (see Note 2) embedded in our political, education, and economic institutions that perpetuate the wounding.

In next month’s blog, we’ll look at our cultural values, beliefs, attitudes, and actions. We’ll be searching for those that enable all life to flourish in our interconnectedness.

Meanwhile, mindfully pay attention to what gives you life and what, if anything, needs to change to support that transforming energy.


Notes & Sources:

1.) Weiss, Suzannah; July 5, 2016. https://www.bustle.com/articles/170721-7-things-the-word-feminist-does-not-mean
2.)Mander, Anica Vesel, and Rush, Anne Kent. Feminism as Therapy. Random House. 1977.
3.)Editors Cooey, Paula M.; Eakin, Willilam R.; and M cDaniel, Jay B. After Patriarchy: Feminist Transformations of the World Religions.  Orbis Books, New York. 1998.

About the Author: Rev. Mary Coday Edwards is a Spiritual Growth Facilitator and People House Minister. A life-long student of spirituality, Mary spent almost 20 years living, working and sojourning abroad in Asia, Southeast Asia, East Africa, and Latin America before finding her People House “tribe” and completing its Ministerial Program. Past studies include postgraduate studies from the University of South Africa in Theological Ethics/Ecological Justice, focusing on the spiritual and physical interconnectedness of all things. With her MA in Environmental Studies from Boston University, abroad she worked and wrote on environmental sustainability issues at both global and local levels, in addition to working in refugee repatriation

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth