[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]

Not ~Brotherhood~ Again . . .

Nov 27, 1996 08:55 AM
by RIhle

I was reading Dr. Johanna Budwig, the "flax oil lady," the other day.  I
suppose some traces of our previous "brotherhood" discussion remained in my
subconscious, because the thought suddenly occurred to me:  "If I did not
know who the author was, would there be anything about this writing which
indicates it is the work of a woman?"


Many, many other female authors also seem to fit this "gender-free"
category--H.P.B., Anne Besant, Alice Bailey, Joy Mills, Margaret Mead, Pearl
S. Buck, Gertrude Stein, etc., just for a few examples.

Then something else started bothering me:  Given that it is so obvious that
~brotherhood~ is a "male-associated" word once it is pointed out, why was it
possible that it could have included females for so long without most people
giving it much of a second thought?  Were the people of past generations
stupid or what?

Then, of course, we have the right/left, male/female cerebral hemisphere
people who speak so authoritatively on a fundamental difference between men
and women.  Certainly, I don't know enough about brain science to gainsay
their research, but I cannot but help wondering if all of this is not really
more appropriate to describe individuals who still predominently utilize
desire-mental (kama-manas) consciousness rather than desire-free mental
(manas).  In other words "female writers" could be those who are still
tainted by the desire/emotional nature arising from one type of "hormonal
package" and "male writers" from another.

~Manas~ itself, they tell me, just comes from the Sanskrit root meaning
"thought."  ~Mankind~, then would merely be the "thinker-kind."  Perhaps it
is a major affliction to think like a man or woman.

Furthermore, what about the old men and old women?  One would have thought
that a lifetime of experience as males or females would have sent them so far
down their respective gender branches that they would be virtually separate
species by old age.  I don't know how it looks to you, but I see lots and
lots of older women who naturally seem to add the famous "male
problem-solving" mode and older men who also become quite comfortable in
so-called "female pattern-following."  Grandma or Grandpa--what's the big
difference after a certain point?

Anyway, while I agree that ~brotherhood~ may be losing the inclusive meaning
it once had, it is interesting to keep hearing that some people think that a
male-dominance conspiracy was responsible for it in the first place.  That
HPB, in particular, did not kick up a fuss about it makes me doubt this.  Who
knows?  HPB may have even regarded the female-included usage as an ongoing
healthy reminder to the males of her day that they ~couldn't~ expropriate for
themselves a universal term like ~brotherhood~.

Well, in the modern day I suppose many are unwilling to read HPB without at
the same time repeating "woman writer," "woman writer," "woman writer" to
constantly remind themselves what "gender team" she is on.  I don't know . .
. I sort of think HPB would have been offended by the demotion of her psyche
to the level of either sex.

Indeed and similarly, on page 58 of her booklet Dr. Johanna Budwig asks,
"What do my breasts have to do with flax oil?"  (Okay, I'm lying. . . .)


Richard Ihle

[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application