Four Faces of Femininity tells the story of remarkable women who, through their creativity, passion, intelligence, and sheer determination, have left an indelible mark on the history of humankind. The book is divided into four sections, with figures placed in Mother, Lover, Warrior, or Sage. Accessible, informative, and uplifting, Four Faces of Femininity explores the many ways in which women have changed the course of history?and demonstrates how crucial it is that women from every background be provided with role models that inspire. The book includes questions for exploration to help modern multifaceted women see these qualities in themselves and balance them to lead a fuller life. Learn about yourself and your identity as one or more or all of these archetypes. How do they form us? How do they inform our thinking? How do we break free of limiting definitions to embrace fully who we are? Can we have it all, and all at once?Find out on Dropping In this week with Barbara McNally!
Barbara McNally is the author of Unbridled, a soulful memoir of personal liberation, and Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife, firsthand accounts of woman thrust into the role of caregiver when their spouses return from the battlefield with major wounds. These stories inspired the launch of the Barbara McNally Foundation, which offers seminars, scholarships, and workshops dedicated to enhancing the lives of women. Barbara is a licensed physical therapist who makes her home in Southern California, where she juggles the responsibilities of being a mother, lover, warrior, and sage.Leave a comment for radio show guests
Have you ever stopped to think about yourself and your story? If someone were to write your memoir what would it say? We all seek some level of authenticity but have trouble removing the labels and finding our whole story. Welcome to Dropping In with Diane Dewey. In this program we’ll explore diverse stories on identity to help determine what is truly yours. Now here is your host Diane Dewey.
Diane: Welcome to Dropping In, everyone. We’re here with Barbara McNally, author of a bold, brave new book called “Four Faces of Femininity: Heroic Women Throughout History.” I can tell you that it’s a new day here in America, and we’re awakening to ask the question of whether we can summon the lover and empath in all of us to feel the compassion for human suffering that’s going on, and the sense of people being repressed in our country through the use of force.
So it’s a very timely book, it’s a book that takes a look at our aspects of ourselves and how we can activate them, how we can motivate ourselves to become the people that we need to be in our time. Good morning and welcome Barbara McNally.
Barbara: Thank you Diane. I’m happy to be on your show and talk about the Four Faces of Femininity, and how we as women can help and feel like we’re needed and useful during this time.
Diane: Absolutely, I think we’re going to play a vital role as well men, and I think men can probably tap into these archetypes, as well. Four Faces of Femininity is published this spring by She Writes Press, and in it we discover the key archetypes; mother, lover, warrior, and sage, and these can be activated by events, as well as animate us, and these times. Thank you for this great new book it’s a tool for rebooting ourselves and taking charge of our individual and collective pathways.
It’s a two-fold toolkit the archetypes that Barbara describes, and cites 43 real life people throughout history, women who are then categorized in these different archetypes. And the other thing that Barbara gifts us with, in addition to this new way of seeing ourselves, is the role modeling right Barbara that we, through the role models, we witness the bravery, and the kinds of judgment that other people used to motivate themselves to become active agents of change in history.
The book is, as I say based around the concept of archetypes. And these, for those of you that need a refresher as I did, archetypes form the basis for all of our unlearned and instinctive behavior. It comes from the union concept of the collective unconscious, which is the reservoir of our shared human experience, so that when we have an intuition about something, it’s matching up to these patterns that are just lodged in our unconscious, out of reach. The powerful symbols about femininity, such as the Femme Fatale, like Marilyn Monroe that was both she was both a sex pod and an accomplished actress, Barbara delves into the multifaceted role of all of these women how they tap into different archetypes all at once. And so I think now I would just like to invite Barbara, you’ve written this book it’s a rare gift. What is your working definition of an archetype?
Barbara: Oh great, yes I think you’ve defined it really well. Yeah, it’s in our DNA. The lover that passion for life. It’s not just sensual and sexual but it’s that passion for anything for dancing or whatever our passion is and, like, if we lose that, you know, that’s what we call old curmudgeons right. So, we want a lie that young lover was the nurturer, the caregiver, not only for our own children. But I gave examples of women who didn’t have children such as Oprah, who opened an orphanage.
Jane Goodall, who cares for Mother Earth. So I gave examples of nurturers that not necessarily women who procreated. And of course, the Warriors the hardest for women to identify with. And that’s because we don’t want to come on as a fighter and most of us haven’t served in the military but the warriors that, that inner strength that’s a feminine quality that we can critical and achieve it and set healthy boundaries.
Then, the sages, as you were speaking about our intuition, our intellect our spiritual side, the wise woman within, and we don’t need to be old to be wise. I’m, hopefully we do gain wisdom throughout the years, but I gave examples of young women to show that we can tap into that intuition that wise woman at any age, so examples I gave were Anne Frank who she hadn’t wrote in her diaries, no one would a lot of people would not know about the horrific, you know, genocide of the Jews.
And then, Malala of Pakistan, who was shot by the Taliban, and was the youngest girl to win a Nobel Peace Prize for standing up against the Taliban and writing about that. She says one woman, one pin, one book can change the world. So, these are the Four Faces of Femininity highlights women who throughout history saw injustice and lead the way to new freedoms and equality. I wanted women to be able to identify with these qualities in when they we see it in other people, their mirrors for us we can see those qualities within ourselves.
Diane: It’s very empowering for sure. And I do think it’s important that you touched on the issue of the warrior aspect and how women shy away from that kind of power and accepting in themselves that they do have power. I think that this book contributes to that equation in terms of showing women who were empowered because they didn’t have a guidebook, they had no idea. The way forward, that they created it and developed it as they went along. I also think this idea of witnessing, I mean we’re looking now at Black Lives Matter, as an essential component in the health, mental health, emotional health, spiritual health of our nation. And I think that, you know, we have to bear witness, even if some of us have lived a life of white privilege. It’s very important I think to bear witness, and that’s what you’ve done so I’d like to offer the archetype profiles that you covered in your book who were, in fact, African American women, you did.
As you say, look at Oprah Winfrey and her mother, she is in the mother category, the soul who nurtures is your definition, any aspect rooted in empathy and caregiving, healing and selflessness belongs to the mother archetype. So, Oprah Winfrey is there and as is Michelle Obama to Phantom during women, you know, Michelle Obama, with her get moving crusade and planting the garden at the White House, the vegetable garden.
Oprah Winfrey with her school, her Academy for girls in South Africa, and clearly education being the access to education, being one of the huge barriers to growth of African American women. So I do want to touch on this idea that, you know in your estimation Barbara, the mothering it’s not necessarily individual and personal. It can be public and very collective, is that also part of this?
Barbara: Right. We are all nurturers and many women today choose not to have children of their own and there’s other ways to nurture. So yes, nurturing. Oprah we call her the TV mom because she was on at three o’clock in the afternoon, kids would get home and a lot of them were latchkey and watch Oprah. And in the book, I feature things a lot of people didn’t know about Oprah that she came from extreme poverty. She’s suffered sexual abuse. She had a child as a teenager and then lost it.
And she went through so many hurdles to become who she was today and it gives us hope that when we see other people overcome challenges that we can overcome challenges that we face within ourselves. And yes, there’s many examples of nurtures and there are two black women in the mother section, another woman that I wanted to highlight today was Jane Addams. Because Jane Addams, was the mother of Social Work, and she came from, she was white and came from a life of privilege, but she started the whole house, which was an immigrant.
A home for immigrants, and back then it was for the Irish and the Russians, and then it became for Mexicans, black Americans, but she started the pretty much the mother of social work or social work system in the US. And what’s unique about her is that she came from a life of privilege and she was white. So it’s like really inspiring that somebody that can have a lot can still care for other people. And I also feature because I was listening to your show before. And right who ran who has a different view of survival of the fittest, kind of, so I do feature women that are both conservative and liberal but the point is that they all had a voice of platform, and change the world. So we, it doesn’t matter what our viewpoints are, it’s important to look at what other people came from and what they do and I say like who you identify within this mirror of this book is you have that quality to and you can, if it’s social work or if it’s becoming a libertarian. What are you identifying with and then use that to make your mark!
Diane: Absolutely and I think connecting those dots, it’s really what resonates with you as a person. And I think that it’s the stories are transformative, whether it’s the person who came from privileged and transformed her sense of entitlement into. Wait a minute, I don’t feel comfortable with this without addressing inequality in my lifetime. We’re or, as you say, with poignancy the very personal stories of Oprah Winfrey and what she overcame, and how she transformed her personal pain into a kind of public persona.
While she hasn’t always been political does address, I think at an underlying level they need for empathy and warmth and connectivity in our society. The next segment is the lover, and this was very interesting to me, you say consider the diversity of love within you, and I think about the old definitions we had platonic altruistic romantic, and to give those equal footing, so you have the comment that expressing and celebrating sensuality art in a traditional sense, is a core component of your inner lover.
So you go to Madonna, for example, and her book on sex, but also sex being the biggest selling coffee table book in the history of coffee table books. And then you go to a very interesting adventurer Bessie Coleman, an African American woman who was called the “fervid flyer.” And Bessie Coleman said, the air is the only place that is free from prejudice, which I thought was really magnificent the way she found a space to escape to.
And maybe other women do as well in their writing space, or in their music space, or in their poetry space, or in their political space. So I think there has been an evolution where, you know, at one point several generations back it really was only women of privilege who could afford the time, had the exposure or had the access to become speakers and develop a voice. And now, thank goodness. There have been enough role models, many of whom are illustrated in your book that have allowed others to say, “Wait a minute, I’m empowered too, I can empower myself, and I’ll learn through these examples.”
How to do that? So, in the warrior context then Barbara I really looked at this chapter very seriously. There were in this chapter new African American women, and I wondered if you thought that would change. And whether it’s changing even now.
Barbara: Oh that’s a good question. Well, I would have to say the hardest thing about writing this book was actually pigeonholing them into mother, lover, warriors, or sages. So many of these women could have been in the warrior section, for example, Bessie Coleman was the first woman ever not just first black woman fly. So she was definitely a warrior. She had grit, she had a goal and she found a way to do it. Even coming from poverty her parents were sharecroppers, and she was one of 13 children.
Oprah can be seen as a warrior too. I think a lot of these women I could have. We put them in the warrior category, but I just had to kind of, I was trying to just because most people think of warriors military, so I put like Cleopatra is the first warrior and Tammy Duckworth, who is our today warrior who legs were blown off in Afghanistan, and she says, “I may not get my legs back, but it’s given me a platform to talk about what matters to me, and that’s important.”
So the warrior is when we’re taking something horrible that happens and how we can turn it into a positive, how we can fight for what’s important, and everybody has a different cause to fight for. We can’t fight for every cause, but just because on the news, it is about black lives matter. It is great to highlight these African American women, because as a white person myself it’s good to learn about their culture and as role models, anyone who picks up the book whose African American there’s five women in here that are great role models, mentors, women of respect, women who, you know, broke that glass ceiling. So, I put as many inspirational women as I could and it was hard to pick which category to put them in.
Diane: I love that! I think what you’re really saying is that there’s so much crossover, Oprah belongs here. Michelle Obama belongs here. There are so many aspects to there, you know you can’t pigeonhole it’s like pigeon holing, you know, a personality, there are so many aspects, and at different times in our lives, you say, which I think is very enlightening because even as we tried to maybe pigeonhole ourselves.
You know there are different stages of our life where certain archetypes are activated, where you know we may start out as a Maiden or a lover, and then work toward becoming a warrior or in times of crisis, you know how strong a woman is she’s like tea, right? Until she gets in hot water. And Eleanor Roosevelt is in this book, I think it’s really just a kind of formality and almost a semantic kind of thing that this chapter, you know there are so many crossovers and the way that archetypes work is that you can dip in and dip out of them as the need arises in your life and in our times.
I also agree with you very much that the black lives are crucible that we’re in is informing us a great deal about the black experience, African American experience. And, wow, what an eye-opener ideas and I think it will serve to activate the warrior in many of us, or hope to find the place where we can tap into the lover empath in ways that will make us deeply compassionate for this experience.
So, onto the sage and this is one that I truly loved your own sage you say is that part that intuits, trusts, and follows her instincts. She uses her platform, her wisdom keeps her grounded and clear eyed. So you cite Madam CJ Walker, who is a self-made millionaire and founder of the Walker System. So this is an African American entrepreneur, right? Who developed, I think for the first time in history, beauty products, hair products that specifically address the needs of the African American women who were previously shoehorned into what works for everyone else and it’s not a one-size-fits-all.
So, there was the Walker System was a shampoo pomade and a hot comb. She developed factories and training centers, and brought other people along with her, as entrepreneurs, which I think is so fantastic. And then I thought a great one that a great person that you cited is the author, Octavia Butler, who was the godmother of Futurism. And Octavia said, I was attracted to science fiction because it was so wide open.
I was unable to do anything, and I was able to do anything and there were no walls to hem you in, there was no human condition that you were stopped from examining. So I think what we’re going to do, we’re going to take a short break here and when we come back, we’re going to look at some of these walls that these individuals broke through and how it’s impacted us today. We’re here with Barbara McNally, author of Four Faces of Femininity. Don’t go away, we’ll be right back.
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You are listening to Dropping In, with Diane Dewey. We’d love to hear from you if you have a question or comment about the show, send us an email to DDewey@trunordmedia.com. That’s the letter D, Dewey at T-R-U Nordmedia.com. Now, back to Dropping In.
Diane: Welcome back everyone. We’re here with Barbara McNally, author of the book, newly released Four Faces of Femininity published by She Writes Press. And we were talking before the break about Octavia Butler, the Godmother of Futurism. I think it’s so interesting, in your feminist vein that, you know, to go into the sciences and to write about science does blow things wide open because there is more of an equal playing field.
And she said that she was able to do anything without walls to hand her in. Octavia was the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1995, also a pioneer and her books, in case you don’t know, I’m just going to mention them; Patternmaster, Mind of My Mind, Survivor, Wild Seed, Clay’s Ark, Kindred, Bloodchild. And these were winners of the scientific, the Hugo Award, the science fiction clinical xenogenesis trilogy; Dawn, Adulthood Rites, Imago, the Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents in the late 90s.
So, this is a woman who really needs to be highlighted, for what she did in opening the voice of women in terms of writing, and here we have a great example in Barbara McNally, who I believe serves as a living example of what you talked about, Barbara of overcoming odds and difficulties in your life. I’m going to give a really more traditional introduction to Barbara McNally. She is the author of Unbridled, a soulful memoir of personal liberation.
And Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife, which is a first-hand account of a woman thrust into the women thrust into the role of caregiver when their spouses returned from the battlefield with major wounds. These stories inspire the launch of Barbara McNally Foundation, which offers seminars scholarships and workshops, dedicated to enhancing the lives of women. Barbara is a licensed physical therapy who makes therapist who makes her home in Southern California where she juggles the responsibility of being a mother, lover, warrior, and sage. I think it’s great that you talk about that juggling. And Barbara says in her introduction to Four Faces of Femininity, the years that followed, which was, she was all set right. She had this promising career as a physical therapist and a marriage to her college sweetheart, but she says the years that followed brought huge bittersweet changes. I strayed from my marriage and divorce my husband, I followed in the footsteps of my late grandmother and took a life changing trip to Ireland, the land of my ancestors, where I danced with horsemen and commence and communed with Priestesses.
So, I find Barbara that you are one of the women who has transformed their experience and brought out really the best of yourself and Unbridled came from this experience, as well as the Wounded Warrior Foundation. This is something that is hugely relevant right now, we’re looking at police force, dynamics, the post-traumatic stress. The stress element, and their caregivers, hoping, you’ve also given us guidance in that regard and you’re to be commended. In that aspect, what kinds of art typical energies do you think are operative for women in these roles?
Barbara: Oh, that’s a great question. Well, I think one of them were, we were talking about the sage before break and are sages of the wise woman. So, first thing is to learn, and a good way to learn is to read, and I’m glad you brought up, Octavia Butler because most people don’t know about her especially for white. And I highlighted her and even my daughter said I’m not interested in reading that, and it’s funny after this crisis, she’s interested now, because Octavia Butler, talks about the African American experience and she’s a best seller.
So, the blacks are asking that whites learn about their culture so she is one woman that now, I’m so glad that you talked about her that’s more relevant than ever her work. And so that’s one perspective, and the other perspective is empathy for those going into the police force. They say, “No one hates a bad cop more than a good cop”, and I’ve gotten, working with the military and wounded warriors. I’ve worked with post-traumatic stress syndrome. Caregivers, their wives that deal with the injuries and the horrible experiences these men go through and the police force, is no different.
So, this is a time to maybe learn more about the police force, too and you could learn about it through Wounded Warrior Wounded Wife, which is more military stories, but their experiences are sometimes very similar. Being in positions where it’s you are me and keeping ethical and it’s just a very difficult job that really not very many people want to go into the military or the police force, and it ends up the people that, you know, maybe can’t afford a college education go in so there’s a lot of empathy there too.
So, Wounded Warrior Wounded Wife is more about post-traumatic stress. And I just encourage the women out there to right now tap into that stage, you know, turn the news off and really read about these cultures, and even get into them. There’s so many actions we can take like, I started a foundation in the support group for caregivers to help with the post-traumatic stress. We could be a big sister in the African American community.
There’s a lot of action to take, but I think the first thing right now is to tap into our sage, read and see what fits us personally, what cause we care about, and that will give us the energy, the passion and then the grit to follow through with it.
Diane: The inner stories of these women, I think it’s tremendously important and touch with Octavia Butler I think was critical. And I love this trajectory that you’re on, Barbara, tell us about the trajectory from Wounded Warrior Wounded Wife to this book, Four Faces of Femininity? How did it come about?
Barbara: Well, I’ve been working on the Four Faces of Femininity, this book for 12 years. But in the meantime, I’ve also been running a support group for wives of wounded warriors and caregivers, because we say, I’m love heals and where there’s a wounded warrior there’s a wounded wife, and in helping these women. And I wanted to, they all want role models, and they’re all trying to decide how they can grow to this challenge.
So, we were always looking at women like who’s a role model for you, who’s a mentor, who’s a woman you respect? And so often women have a hard time finding that, so this was another reason to write Four Faces of Femininity because there’s so many women out there, and I wanted women to have a mirror to look into see what they relate to and how they can change the world. So, the two books kind of relate.
Diane: They do.
Barbara: They give us inspiration. And I love on back to the Madam CJ Walker. She says, “Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come get up and make them.” She was not only the first black millionaire, she was the first woman, white or black millionaire in the United States. And if that doesn’t give you inspiration and guts. And some of these women like Madam CJ Walker I wrote about, no one had heard us but now there is a Netflix movie about her. So you can google Madam CJ Walker and watch the story of her life, it’s a documentary on Netflix.
So some of the women in that Four Faces of Femininity, we’ve heard about like Eleanor Roosevelt and Marilyn Monroe and some of these women, we haven’t heard about, so it’s kind of a mixture.
Diane: I think that it’s very interesting. The paradox that Madam CJ Walker, for example, didn’t have a lot of role models and disregarded that sort of said, “Okay, I’m Listening, it’s going to be one foot in front of the other, I’m learning as I’m going.” And she is, we are the beneficiary of her experience, but these were people who were forging without the guide book. And I think it’s just as interesting to look at that as it is to look at this dynamic of how we need role models and how they form us.
I think it’s incredibly important. Look, if you even referring back to your grandmother. Going back to your roots in Ireland. I think it sounds like you came alive there, you’re dancing with horsemen, I mean there’s something really vital about the energy that comes out of that story in your life. Was she a role model for you?
Barbara: Yes. And so, we talk about even Roots, you know the movie Roots Black History, it’s important that black women and men know their history and their roots but it’s important that all of us know our roots. I happen to be Irish. When I went back to Ireland I found in the DNA that strength of the Fighting Irish. And I do feature some of the women that Irish women. There’s a pirate queen in the book that I’m related to, McNally and she have this strength to fight.
And in our time when women really weren’t usually in that role. So, I think, going back to our roots, no matter what our roots are we can find in our DNA, some of the strength that we need to tap into when we go through difficult times. So, I’m happy that I had the opportunity to go back to Ireland, not all of us can go physically back to our roots but we can still read about them and ask our family questions and find that inner strength.
Diane: Well, it is so key and it is part of, you know, the H. Henry Louis Gates project roots, which allowed even Oprah to go back and look at her personal history and define the strength there, people who were incredibly in, you know, in terrible circumstances and slaved and still prevailed. I think that this idea of going back to your roots. And you know also the Celtic Queen Boudicca and the Pirate Queen of Ireland Grace O’Malley.
These must have given you tremendous juice, as a woman, and kind of giving you a reignited spirit after the dissolution of your marriage, and maybe new motivation to go on and to decide for yourself a fate. It seems to me that one of the implications of your book, Four Faces of Femininity and tell me if this is correct. Is that if you aim at a desired archetype, and a desired archetype that you emulate warrior, lover, sage, or that you can become that, if you so desire. Is that something that you think is true if you apply your energies to it?
Barbara: Absolutely. I think today most of us are multifaceted like a diamond where we’re juggling being a mom, having a career wanting to contribute to society. And it’s a very complicated life and mortality, but it’s more fulfilling and I wanted, I write about what I want to learn about and I want more balance and integration in my life so this is why I write about these inspirational women, and I’m balancing being a mother, I am a mother and a grandmother, and caring as a physical therapist, I’m balancing the lover.
I don’t want to lose that zest for life that passion, because that’s depression if we’re not excited about life or we turn into an old curmudgeon as I said before, and then the warrior working with wives of wounded warriors. I and other women, it’s that ability to set a goal and the grit, it’s great to have a passion like to write a book, or to make a change in the world, but it’s the grit, it’s the goal setting that actually makes it happen, that’s the warriorness.
And back to Eleanor Roosevelt she says, “Make a plan and work your plan.” So, the warrior in us makes it and then the sage is intuitively knowing what’s important to us and where we want to make the difference. And I gave examples of different women who wanted to make differences in different ways so it is a challenge, or if you want to share how you balance the four faces of femininity or how you’re integrating them in your life. I’m sure your listeners would love to hear.
Diane: I mean I think it’s very interesting, the PTSD remark, you made earlier and healing from it, that can easily be obviously women as well have integrated trauma into our lives we have. My experience coming back from, you know, a very early adoption when I was adopted from an orphanage and separated from my mother and this has been a tremendous healing process over the last 18 years. So I do identify with just about each of these female categories.
I especially though feel that the sage, this tapping into and maybe this is what I need at this point, this idea, as you say of turning off the news and going within our society almost refutes that we haven’t much time to do that, to think, even. And I think what we’re experiencing now with COVID-19 is a slowing down, and time on our hands and it’s given us the ability to go back in and maybe journal, maybe start a paragraph of something we wanted to write, or create a new goal for ourselves, and in doing so, you know, set an agency for our lives so I feel as though you know I experience it.
That way, I also very much experienced. You know the lover. The lover archetype in your book, and the sense of generativeness and creativity. I think that can be not only enormously healing. But, it reduces the shame, which is at the root of PTSD, in terms of having experienced some horrific circumstance, out of our control. You know the definition of trauma is that we cannot process in which we’re helpless to act. So I think that you know this expressiveness, that you’re driving at is extremely important, as an agent, in terms of personal change, you have a Facebook quote that I loved you quote, “Roomie out beyond ideas and wrongdoing and right doing there is a field, and I will meet you there.” And you acknowledged in your introduction that you strayed from your marriage. And I wondered if this gave you special insight or even permission to go places that you wouldn’t ordinarily, we have a few minutes left. If you want to just comment or delve into that a bit.
Barbara: Well, I think nobody wants to read a story about somebody’s perfect life, right? That’s boring. Perfect is boring and they all, I’m glad you shared your story and sharing our stories is what connects us. And I guess I’d like to end with Gloria Steinem’s quote she says, “To write is to bring an inner voice into the outer world, to believe that our thoughts are worth entering the thinking of others, and to make real what has never existed in quite the same way.”
And everyone has a story to tell and not very many people tell it so I encourage the audience out there to tell their stories, along with the shadows and the mistakes and the regrets and the trauma, because that’s what connects us, and overcoming those mistakes and regrets and trauma and growing from them is what gives others inspiration.
Diane: Right. You’re absolutely right. It’s our shared humanity, the imperfection of it all and I do recall that with Oprah she read Maya Angelou’s. I Know why the cage birds seen things about her incest and rape, and it delivered her out of her cape of shame. So I think it is important to examine the shadow side. When we come back, we’re going to look at the essential creativity that comes from the lover archetype, and we’ll be back with Barbara McNally, just in 30 seconds, so don’t go away.
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You are listening to Dropping In, with Diane Dewey. We’d love to hear from you if you have a question or comment about the show, send us an email to DDewey@trunordmedia.com. That’s the letter D, Dewey at T-R-U Nordmedia.com. Now back to Dropping In.
Diane: Welcome back everyone. We’re here with Barbara McNally, author of Four Faces of Femininity, but there’s something very universal about this subject and the text of archetypes, and I think it’s something that’s going to happen to both genders. And, as well as all ages. We were speaking before the break, Barbara alluded to, Gloria Steinem, who I also thought had an extremely important point, and saying that she just wants women to be able to look at life as a whole.
When you think about, and not as a half, not as a half empty glass, but a whole, a whole realm of possibility and clearly. African American women have perhaps even further to go in being able to not have to fragment themselves, not have to cut themselves off from possibility, and we support and stand with this, but also that Gloria Steinem was saying this in reference to the fact that she hoped that someday, a feminist, the word feminism, wouldn’t have to exist, that everyone would have the same sense and possibility about life, which, you know, is really the goal, it’s really the shared goal.
We were also talking about humanity and imperfection. And as men, the quintessential lover in this book Four Faces of Femininity, was imbued with creativity and a believer in mystery. She said, “The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery.” There’s always more mystery, and of course, she went on to explicitly and paradoxically document her intimate life with the likes of Henry Miller, Gore Vidal, Edmund Wilson, James Agee.
And by McNally does a great job of documenting this, and she was thought of as bold, liberated and adventurous when she opened the door on important taboo subjects including extramarital affairs, illegal abortions, and even incest, things that cause the coward and maybe intimidated person to stay silent perhaps for their whole lives, which only festers their sense of trauma. So, this enabling women to speak about these subjects, it’s something that Barbara McNally, I think has shared her gift with the book, and with her workshops on the Wounded Warrior. I wondered Barbara because you are professionally, a physical therapist. Do you think that memory and trauma is stored at a cellular physical level and do you work with that in your practice?
Barbara: Oh absolutely, absolutely. And back to Anias Nin, she’s the first lady of erotica. She was writing about sex, and from a woman’s point of view, way before 50 Shades of Grey came out, and it was way more controversial back when she was writing, and sometimes she even had to write under a man’s name. But I so happy brought up Anias Nin because a lot of people have not heard of her, but I love her work.
And yes she’s, I would definitely recommend her books, and yes, she speaks about sex sensuality from a woman’s point of view and it’s part of talk about trauma it’s sexuality and sensuality is part of us and it’s a taboo to really talk about it, even today, you know, we talk about violence but even with the military, you know, they can go shoot somebody but dare we ever show them a topless picture of a woman like that’s banned. So violence is okay in America but sex isn’t so that taboo is still there, I think, even. But, so I really I’m really glad you brought up Anias Nin. She’s probably my favorite woman in the book.
Diane: And she does explore her sensuality and it’s through the senses that we learn, it’s through the senses that we gather impressions and have feelings and emotions and passions and feelings of emancipation or liberation or confinement and being stultified by all of those things. And if you can’t express yourself in the intimate sexual realm in the erotic realm, then you really do live a truncated life so I think, you know, when you’re dealing with physical therapy, I’m sure there’s a lot of that working through into some of the lover archetype that we may have been cut off from because of traumatic experiences. Do have you have that? Is that your sense?
Barbara: Yes, in the book Wounded Warrior Wounded Wife, there is a chapter called battlefield to the bedroom, and it’s about that, that’s another important issue when a man comes home whether police force, or military with trauma. How is he going to transfer that into the bedroom, you know, and how do you get that intimacy back after your husband’s gone through such trauma at war or violence on the street?
It is very complicated and we had a sex therapist at our caregiver’s meetings that women can openly talk about sexuality, and how they deal with it with their husbands, and it’s something that’s such a taboo, you know. Thank God Sex in the City came out that, you know, finally, people were like, oh women care about sex too and yeah it’s kind of coming out of the closet now that women can talk about their sexuality. So yes, it’s a very big part of Wounded Warrior Wounded Wife.
Diane: And I think that the equivalent is power, money right it’s sex power, money, these are the things that women need to get comfortable with because that is when you’re firing on all cylinders, you’ve got those things you are unafraid and unapologetic to say, I want that. And I think that here you know, you’ve got Isabella Linda. Well it’s actually in your passage about Aphrodite, as a lover and Isabel Linda said that, “Lust and gluttony, were the only two sins worth committing.”
So of course, this is hysterical but I think it’s interesting because, as you say, women do need permission. And if it’s a female person, or soldier who’s going on to the battlefield, or a female police officer. Same difference. You know you risk numbing yourself and being cut off from these very vital and empowering energies in your life. I thought this was such an eye opening book, Four Faces of Femininity.
It’s a way to see yourself and others in your life and you talk about how the archetypes are also a way that people, perceive you and what’s balance of seeing yourself and how others see you through the lens of archetypes, I mean. Do you regularly check in with yourself in terms of calibrating where you are with these archetypes: mother, lover, warrior, and sage?
Barbara: Absolutely. I think balance is a verb, we’re always balancing and we’re rarely completely balanced, but it’s fun and more fulfilling life to not let any of these archetypes die. If the lover dies, you know, it’s a sad day. And Mother Teresa surprisingly is in the mother section because she loved what she did, she had a passion for her work and she said, “We can’t all do great things, but we can all do small things with the great amount of love.” And whatever your passion is out there, I want you to keep that going. And that’s really important. So I think lover is so important and I’m glad you spent a lot of time on that archetype.
Diane: Well also the gift of love, when you talk about your profile Lady Diana Spencer, and she, you know lady died, she was a kindergarten school teacher when she married Prince Charles and she was really not. She does not have a whole lot of professional background and then entered a realm where you just don’t need it, or because your role is your profession, but she talks about giving love, that was her job, she decided that her role would be to simply offer love to people, and Mother Teresa as well.
I remember a quote of, you know, “I’d rather die in in someone’s honor, my goal is that a person dies in my arms, not in the streets of Calcutta.” And I think that sense of offering love is such a powerful, and I think unfortunately overlooked us. And one of the ones that you revived in Four Faces to Femininity, the book just out from She Writes Press and available where books are sold. You mentioned Eleanor Roosevelt and I really am drawn to her she is the person, the only person I noticed in the book of who carried on a same sex relationship, it was revealed through letters that emerged after her death, and she’s the one who’s credited with saying no one can make you feel inferior, inferior without your consent. This dynamic of power, one’s ability for yourself also seems to have to do with, establishing yourself as, for example a warrior archetype, because you talk about grit, Barbara and I wondered if you thought that was the difference between women who maybe have these aspects, but stay theoretical and women who go ahead and accomplish things. What are the thing? What makes the difference in that?
Barbara: Right, well I think it is all four faces. Because like you said during this COVID-19 shut down, people didn’t have time to think and we evaluate that’s a sage what matters in my life, and think about what is your passion? For Princess Diana during the AIDS crisis, she made a big difference because she went in and she held their hands and she hugged, because at that time they thought aids could be transmitted by touching someone. So I think this is a good time for people to think what really matters to them, what is their passion and that’s tapping into the sage.
What really do I care about? Because if we don’t care about it we’re not going to do a very good job of it. That goes once we find out what we really care about, then the grit the warrior comes in as you’ve written a book and I’ve written three, we know it takes a lot of grit write a book, a lot of work, a lot of detail. And if you don’t have that original passion, and you don’t know what you want to write about or what you care about, you can’t make that can’t tap into that warrior to actually make it happen because, as you know it’s a lot of work.
Diane: Well and you talk about, you know, thyself. So this is a really passage into that learning experience. I do think that Princess Diana, she connected. And she connected with a group of people, HIV sufferers, with whom she did not share experience and this I think goes back again to understanding black life matters of Black Lives Matter, we don’t have to have the experience to have the empathy and to stand together and to offer support and even love.
So, and empathy for them. In this journey that I think we’re catapulted toward. Your talk also in your book, there are at the end of every chapter, there are questions to workshop with yourself or with others, and I wondered what you considered your mission in life to be? We’re down to just a couple minutes and I will tell you that you can find Barbara McNally on her Facebook, Barbara Kay McNally. Instagram, Barbara Kayman McNally and her website, the book is Four Faces of Femininity. Barbara tell me, do you see yourself as a teacher in life, or just in a few words, what is your mission and passion?
Barbara: Thank you. I see myself as a healer and a teacher, and I’m happy to attend any books shop, bookstores, I speak at women’s gatherings and we use this workbook as a workbook to help women find their passion and lead out a multifaceted life and that’s my mission now. So, thank you.
Diane: It’s so great. There are so many layers to all of us, and I think that you’ve given us the means to understand that maybe by giving us some simple working thoughts about ourselves, but mostly to deliver us into a place of passion, mission, sense of belonging and purpose. So we’re going to end this week with just the message of stay strong, be well, see the Four Faces of Femininity and develop your warrior, lovers, sage, and mother. Thanks very much for dropping in, and thank you very much, Barbara McNally.
Thank you so much for dropping in. Please join Diane Dewey again next Friday at 8am Pacific Time, and 11am Eastern Time, on the Voice America Variety Channel. We’ll see you then.