We live in a culture that tells us to do more – almost all the time. If we’re not getting the results we want – in work, in family, in friendship, with our health and fitness – our culture tells us that it’s because we’re not doing or trying hard enough.
It’s no accident that our culture is based around a 24-hour cycle rather than a month-long cycle, as (news flash!) our culture is a patriarchal one. As in, a system or government where men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it. (Just take a look at this.)
See, people born with penises and people born with vaginas (not talking about gender identification here) have different hormonal cycles. Just like females, males have a hormonal cycle – but it is fast. 24 hours fast.
Females, on the other hand, run on a roughly 28-day hormonal cycle. Where men are the sun, women are the moon. And for centuries, we have been living in a society that honors and pedestalizes the male’s 24-hour cycle.
All of us – no matter our natural hormonal cycle – are expected to live within this narrow 24-hour box. Never mind that we might be feeling exhausted, unproductive, or the need to rest and just be – there is simply not time for that in our current system if we want to achieve some level of success.
Of course, we can all see just how well this current system is working out – not so well for a huge percentage of the population. I know this is for a large number of reasons, but I’m starting to see that one big one is the lack of taking into account that big old other half of the population – females. Yes, it’s that we are currently in a system run by men (white men), who are continuing to elect, hire, and give social standing and rights to other white men – but we also seem to be missing that the whole damn thing needs to be turned on its head from the most fundamental level.
We can’t continue working within a 24-hour cycle when half the population would be better-served working within a 28-day cycle.
In her book, “Do Less,” Kate Northrup talks about this very issue and lays out the four stages of a female cycle:
– New Moon / Menstrual Cycle: this is the time of the month when a woman bleeds. This is a time for introspection, rest.
– Waxing Moon / Follicular Phase: Just after her period – likely the time of the month she will feel creative, productive; a good time to start projects.
– Full Moon / Ovulation: Around the time of ovulation (a few days before and after), we are at peak fertility. We are likely feeling the most “outward” – outgoing, productive, telling the world about the projects we’re working on, etc.
– Waning Moon / Luteal Phase: This is the week before your period. Likely, we’ll be feeling more inward again. A good time to wrap up projects and slow down.
In case you’re thinking this is a little “woo woo” for you – women’s cycles being based on something as mystical as the MOON! – just know that is completely scientifically true. Matter of fact, when women are not exposed to artificial light, our monthly cycles sync up pretty precisely to the moon’s cycles – and to other women’s cycles. Pretty cool, huh?
Now, I’m not saying that people born with vaginas should not be in positions of power because hormones, blah, blah, blah. Quite the opposite. I believe we should know more about our cycles and really honor and use them to our benefit. When we feel like resting – we should rest. When we are in that follicular phase and we feel productive, we should follow that. When we’re ovulating and at our most powerful, we should take over the world and dismantle the current patriarchal system and leave it in a smoking pile of ashes. Or something like that. 🙂
Again, I know there is a LOT wrong with our current system, and this failure to honor, appreciate, and work *with* rather than against our natural, female cycles is just one of them. But it is a big one.
After reading this book, I’ve started to find more power and achievement – by doing less. I’m keeping track of where I am in the month and beneath the moon, and planning my work accordingly. I feel more connected to the cosmos in a very real way. And I feel more like the strange and mysterious animal that I’ve always been, buried beneath artificial lights and consumerism and pavement.
If you felt some resonance reading this, I highly recommend reading the book Do Less by Kate Northrup. Its primary audience is women with kids, but it is just as useful for women without kids, folks who are not currently having their monthly cycles, who haven’t started to yet, and pretty much anyone who can see the moon and watch her wax and wane.