Death Drive of the Feminine
Updated: Nov 16, 2021
A woman has the power of life inside of her. If she does not bring her power out and into life — she brings it in toward death.
A teacher of women’s self-defense once told me a story:
At the start of class, she had the women form a line. She stood in front of the first woman, and with no warning, slapped her hard. She said, hit me back or scream. The teacher continued down the row of women: four of the twenty-one retaliated or vocalized.
The other seventeen did not. Feminine conditioning has taught woman to collapse when confronted in this way — rather than the natural instinct of protecting herself tooth and nail.
In Freud’s work, the death drive (Thanatos) is opposed to the life drive (Eros): survival, propagation, sex, creation, *appetite.*
Her survival drive is diminished — to say nothing of her capacity to thrive. So, the death drive wins.
A creative desire calls to her — but instead of its fire driving her, her self-doubt takes over. She is subdued and sweet only because an inner voice lashes out at herself all day. She is attracted to a stranger — but instead of feeling her turn-on and shining it into the room, she questions how she looks, and criticizes her weight, figure or clothing. She’s about to speak up daringly — but instead of letting her voice free, she becomes squeamish, giggly, hesitant. She is quickly a nobody: desiring to be seen, then doing everything in her power not to be. Asked a question, the answer comes in an immediate flash — but her knowingness terrifies her, and a moment later she says, “I don’t know,” convincing even herself.
She hopes that her feeling worse and worse will draw someone’s attention. It doesn’t. She gives more and more of her masterful, longing heart, and hopes that next time it will result in receiving or reciprocation. It never does.
She keeps her people-pleasing medal: she is a “safe woman” to all others, and deeply unsafe to herself. There is sunshine outside of her, and tragedy inside.
She’s a cemetery of all that was prophesied for her life: a body so self-pillaged for its dreams, which are then used as weapons, that there is distrust of life’s very fabric. It seems better to not dream, to not desire at all.
When turned inward in this way, any life impulse is actually the beginning of death.
One wonders which is worse: the loss of life and her dreaming capacity, or her constant, self-dismissed pain.
When she is so heavily pillaged that she can no longer speak her native truth, that her voice dies in her throat before making it all the way out, it masquerades as resentment against the harms the world has done her. But what’s *actually* responsible is her inherited distortion of the feminine life-giving impulse.
There is a lukewarm, perennial doubt of her own gifts, desires, abilities, but that’s not all. If one perks an ear up to listen, inside of her is genuine terror: every Life-given capacity she’s been endowed with is being used to self-harm.
She so keenly protects the outside world that she scarcely notices what she inflicts on herself. It stagnates into an unremedied rage, a constant subduing of self, a cycle of repression and muting.
Every no she does not say outwardly, she says to herself — every time she does not hit, she takes a hit.
They speak of self-made men, but they haven’t spoken of self-unmade women.
Who is a woman whose life impulses are switched on?
When the life impulses turn on in the feminine being, when she says yes to *aspects of her own nature,* at first, she fears being dominated by their power...
… until she realizes it is *her* power.
“If I cry, what if it never ends” —
Her heart-engine is relentless. She knows that an individual’s suffering tells tales about the care-taking capacity of the collective -- that if *one being* is still feeling pain, something is off. The cry does not forget, nor cease, until its cause has been addressed.
“If I rest, what if it drowns me” —
Her transmission is infectious. A taste of her is a deep-dive. Her desire engulfs all those near her.
“If I rage, what if I harm” —
Her appetite has the quality of a forest fire. The way she ravages others is the way she is ravaged by the sacred: She is consumed by her own purpose; any part of her that gets in the way is burned through.
At the heart of all of these is, “Am I too much?” “Am I too much even for myself?” Once she devours life, she no longer devours herself.
It is an act of daring to say yes to the life impulses. But in doing so — *She becomes a safe habitat for herself because she accepts her own dangerousness.*