While reading a post full of data on sexist injustices, I felt furious. The author described imbalances at work, unintuitive tech designs, economic issues, psychological biases, and how women are generally considered “inferior.” As I read, the weight of each research-backed horror felt overwhelming. What do you want me to do with this information? I feel really sad right now.
Over the last year, I have become keenly aware of patriarchal pains and written about ways to heal from toxic masculinity. As the sexist data piles on, these cultural learnings feel less like “news” and more like a growing burden. Yes, the validation of inequality helps, but when will our environment shift?
We have collectively lived in violent, male-dominated systems for possibly the past 12,000 years, starting with the advancement of agriculture and homesteading. I often struggle with feelings of hopelessness on this topic. Sure, it’s no longer legal for men to beat their wives — in most states — but are we really making that much progress?
My gut (and tons of data) tells me we have a lot of work to do before we can collectively enjoy a culture of safety, balance, and wholeness. Yes, we need to clarify and validate that this patriarchal system isn’t working. More immediately, we need outlets to metabolize our anger individually.
“Sloth, apathy, and despair are the enemy. But anger is a very, very loyal friend. It will always tell us that it is time to act in our own best interests. Anger is action’s invitation,” wrote Julia Cameron. Here are eight simple ways you can take action right now:
1. Use your emotions to create something
Creativity is a divine feminine quality. The more we use our creativity, the more we expand our inner femininity. “Our creativity heals ourselves and others,” says Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way.
Writing about patriarchal issues helps me to process my feelings and connect with others who feel similarly. Whatever your creative outlet is, getting your emotions out will help you heal.
2. Expand your reading list
Though women make up half the world’s population, society gives women far less than equal space in the public eye. Have you ever noticed your high school reading list was full of male authors? Or have you noticed that the majority of public statues honor male war heroes and dominant leaders?
Try finding female authors and heroes to emulate. I love Elizabeth Lesser, Brene Brown, Marion Woodman, Judith Duerk, Elizabeth Gilbert, Julia Cameron, Amanda Palmer, and Debbie Mirza — to name a few. We need to honor women’s stories and values to become more whole humans.
3. Build patriarchy awareness
When I began digging into details of cultural issues, my perspective shifted. The learning process felt like an awakening. Like any change, we need to start with awareness. Here are my favorite resources:
Circle of Stones: Woman’s Journey to Herself, by Judith Duerk
Cassandra Speaks: When Women are the Storytellers, the Human Story Changes, by Elizabeth Lesser
Addiction to Perfection: Studies in Jungian Psychology, by Marion Woodman
Whether this awareness looks like exploring a feminist publication, social media influencer, YouTube channel, or podcast, you can take a small step right now to become more informed.
4. Honor feminine values
At an individual level, we need to embrace our inner feminine. Here are a few ways we can honor our femininity:
Feel into your emotions instead of pushing them aside.
Accept yourself more, especially the parts you don’t like.
Embrace self-compassion, being warm towards yourself.
Practice sitting with stillness, being.
We can also notice and praise others for being vulnerable, communicating well, or prioritizing their well-being.
5. Practice empathetic listening
Listening is the most used yet least taught communication skill. How sad! When we listen empathetically, we can be with others during hard times, validate their emotions, and release our judgments. Many refer to this practice as “holding space.”
The next time someone shares their problems with you, notice the urge to judge or give advice. Try resisting that urge. Instead, encourage your friend to share more. Imagine how it might feel to be in their shoes. This practice helps us to be more vulnerable, brave and connected.
6. Challenge impostor syndrome
“Women often judge their performance as worse than it actually is, while men judge their own performance as better than it actually is,” said Sheryl Sandberg. It’s no secret that women struggle with confidence. We’re more likely to underestimate our own abilities.
In Cassandra Speaks, Elizabeth Lesser encourages us to have “the confidence of a mediocre white man.” (be empowered without being arrogant). She shares these suggestions for handling imposter syndrome:
Realize you are not alone: When you share your imposter syndrome, you’ll be surprised by how many successful people can relate.
See yourself more accurately: Actually, I’ve already proven that I can do this well, and here’s why.
Interrupt the imposter’s voice: Notice when you begin second-guessing yourself and flip the script.
Know your strengths: Consider taking the VIA Character Strengths survey to gain clarity. Remind yourself regularly. (I put mine on the wall.)
Do the same for others: When you hear other women talk down about themselves, share a more accurate, empowering perspective.
7. Encourage women to speak
In our predominantly Christian society, religious leaders teach women silence and submission: “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” — 1 Timothy 2:11–12.
Before we can hope to have balance, we need to change this message. We need to speak up for women when they are interrupted, bringing them back into the conversation. We need to release the hateful narrative that women “talk too much” and start giving them more room to speak in personal and professional environments.
8. Rest without guilt
When we overemphasize productivity, we lose balance. Many of us develop addictions in an unconscious attempt to rest. Instead of judging ourselves for taking breaks, we can appreciate the value in rest. Letting myself rest has been especially challenging for me.
When we take the time to reconnect with ourselves — either with deep breathing, grounding, moments of silence, etc. — we make healthier decisions that honor our bodies. It’s good to take your time. You don’t always need to know what happens next.
Male dominance is not the natural state of society, and we’re hurting. Though we are not responsible for our long-dead ancestors’ mistakes, we can be part of the solution.
Real change happens slowly, and that’s a good thing. The fact that you’re reading this article tells me you’re moving in a positive direction.
“One person plus one typewriter constitutes a movement,” said Pauli Murray. The change starts with you.