International Women’s Day – Whose shoulders do you stand upon?

by | Mar 8, 2021

Women joint hands

 This month is Women’s History month, and today is the International Women’s Day. HERstory versus what we learn at school…history.


   I invite you to reflect upon or even research into some of the women who have made your life better, more empowered, more meaningful.


   Whose female shoulders do you stand upon?


   There are our blood relatives. For me, there is my mother, who broke the family code and married my father for love. My aunt who became a leading beacon for improving mental care in Japan after her brother suffering from deep depression post WWII killed himself. My grandmother who spent her life caring for her family. My great aunt who pushed against convention and became one of the few female doctors in Japan right after WWII. I celebrate them and thank their influences deeply woven into my own fabric.


   Then there are those who inspired us. Living and passed beyond the veil. Who are they for you? Take a moment to make a list. How are you in relationship to your own feminine as you look at the names of those women whose shoulders you stand upon?


    Many are nameless. Healers and herbalists, midwives and singers, poets, dancers, priestesses and artists, silenced. Sapho. St. Brigid. Hildegard of Bingen. Ono no Komachi.

The Alchemy of the threshold

Hildegard’s Vision

A meager handful against the backdrop of all those who were persecuted and burned as witches…for 3 hundred years! Or sold, human trafficked, caught in slavery, dominated, beaten down. My heart aches for all the women wronged and I still carry that fear in my body which I daily release and shift to love AND power. I will not be silenced.


The women who fought for women’s suffrage. Did you know that only in 2015 after Saudi Arabia allowed women to vote, have international suffrage for women been achieved? We still have a long way to go in gaining equality and respect as women, just as we are. No matter what color, creed, sexual orientation, education, age, weight, looks, occupation. I thank Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Ida B. Wells amongst many who fought hard and long to gain the right to vote for women.


Here is an interesting link to the BIPOC women in the suffrage movement. 

We also stand upon the shoulders of those women who fought for equality like Rosa Parks, Billie Holliday, Nina Simone, Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, Aretha Franklin (R-E-S-P-E-C-T!!) and many many more.


One of the things I have come to realize for myself is that I am still learning to open and embrace being a woman. I grew up in a cultural frame where I tended to be the only female in the room, working in an all-male environment. Instead of looking for women to help me understand what was happening within me, I tended to see men as my equal and inspiration. It felt like my survival and sense of worth were somehow tagged to being accepted in these all-male workplaces as “one of them”. It wasn’t until I was near 40 that I started to wake up to the power and healing of not only accepting my female self, but also other women! It was a moment of rebirth into the energy and presence of the Feminine.


From there, the path towards Goddess was slowly forged. She was always there. I had to soften enough to see and sense Her.


Journeying back into the mists of time, I encounter the women of the Goddess cultures and I learn from them, as well as through scholars, artists and lovers of Goddess like Marija Gimbutas, Starhawk, Mary Daly, Barbara Mor, Monica Sjoo, Kathy Jones, Riane Eisler, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Martha Graham, Deena Metzger to name a few. I stand upon their shoulders.


The Goddess movement is significant in its growth because it mirrors our yearning and desire to come into a place of full empowerment. We have to re-write the frame of the patriarchal cultures that still predominate around the world. The systems in place were created by and for men. Very much as in systemic racism, where we need to have a re-frame of our entire system made by and for white people.


It’s a big ask, and a worthy one, and one where we are ready. 

“Earth Mother” by Bill Bell

The Goddess, Gaia, is also our entire planetary existence. The Land – Mother Earth embraces and teaches through the power of the land with stones and crystals and plants and trees. Through the energy of the magnetic lines and underground waterways, Mother Earth resonates and vibrates our magnetic fields and internal fluids. Dreaming with Her, we are given information, visions, inspirations, rest, love and awakening. The ancients knew this and went deep into the darkness of Her caves, into Her womb to paint their love, gratitude and connection with Her. Some have forwarded the hypothesis that the painters were not men, as had been assumed, but women. Women journeying into the deep mystery of the Mother Womb, initiates of the living experience of menstruation, pregnancy and birth within their bodies.


    In the patriarchal model, we were divided into male and female, a binary system. The division became very strict and brittle. It’s a model that also likes to separate things into good and evil, right and wrong, black and white, up and down, night and day, etc. We became so entrenched in that system that most of us tend to think in binary terms. Which causes a very limited way of understanding or even seeing and sensing the world and ourselves.  

On this International Women’s Day, I propose that part of celebrating women has to do with widening our embrace and stepping away from this black and white way of thinking and seeing. For tens of thousands of years, the Goddess was by Herself. She did not need a consort. The world was not seen in those terms of division, perhaps. When male representations began to be discovered in sculptures from prehistoric times, they were together as Mother and son.

How about a reframe: the divine presence of Mother Goddess is there in everything and everyone, immanent and transcendent. She is the water, earth, air, fire. She is seen in the energies within and around us. She is Nature. She is Cosmos. Sexual preference would be honored. Male and Female is not a fixed and polarized position in this reframe. Somehow, our consciousness would be better served outside of the rigid prison of binary thinking. I think.

How about you?

Because not only do we need to know whose shoulders we stand upon, but also, as poet Amanda Gorman so eloquently asks, what do you stand for?



  1. Merceded Olcese

    Inspiring. Thank you.

    • Yukiko Amaya

      You are welcome, Merceded. Thank you for reading it.

  2. Anastasia

    This is wonderfully written! I especially appreciate you talking about the patriarchy and it’s links with racism.
    Thank You also for sharing the stories of the Women in your family, a deep bow to the earth for them all!

    • Yukiko Amaya

      Thank you, Anastasia. Glad it resonated with you.

  3. Michelle Bouchard

    This was so well written and very thought provoking. Particularly, I resonated with the part that talks about binary separation. In this same respect, I think religion used a sense of separation to make us believe we would never achieve the greatness of the divine ones. As a child, I remember questioning this. If we will never achieve the attributes of the divine, what is our purpose? I agree with this article, that a more inclusive (not exclusive) construct of the divine would and could give us all a better chance to feel like we belong. Through the study of the goddess energy, I can see more clearly how we are more alike than different. Thank you for this important article.

    • Yukiko Amaya

      Thanks for your comment. Michelle. Yes. I agree with you. The attributes of the divine are so immense we can’t possibly just look at it simply from a binary perspective. Especially when that perspective was created to favor one side (male, particular race, particular religion, etc.) against the Other…. It’s exciting to imagine freeing ourselves from this constraint.


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