In Defense of Women's Minds

I was drawn to study feminism because of what I learned in the year 2000 (I know, 22 years ago!).

I learned in a philosophy class in college that there was something called epistemology—or a theory of knowledge—and that in Cartesian (Western) epistemology the body was not only seen as irrational, but women were seen as more embodied.

And thus, we get the formulas:

Women=the body=irrational
(and too much thinking will harm their uterus)

(and therefore men should rule the world)


In The Emotional Self-Defense Course, I talk about my feminist awakening being in the context of this philosophy class in which a Christian woman professor with two doctorates (and no wedding ring) broke all this nonsense down.

And of course, it is all more complicated than a binary gender system. Because what happens in the course of Western history is that white male colonizers decide they need to "govern" (as in enslave, dominate, and oppress) the whole world, given their superior rationality (i.e. their superior gender, their superior race, their superior religion).

So the mind/body binary was not just gendered. It was mapped onto race, class, sexuality, non-Christian religion and spirituality, and colonization. (Again, I am doing short hand here with these ideas. I am whizzing through several centuries of history. I teach these ideas at length in the ESD course and in my live workshops to organizations who use my curriculum to train their teams.)

Now, since 2006, I have been teaching feminist theory and writing classes about connecting with the knowledge of our bodies. This has been my THEME. My SONG. The heart and SOUL of why I became a feminist scholar.

BUT, something is happening now to my approach...I am starting to see a need to shift.


I am seeing all around me in the women's empowerment industry the messaging for women that they need to live more fully alive in their bodies. (I think all of us, of all genders, would benefit from learning how to connect with our bodies!). But, I am also seeing how "embodiment" gets specifically marketed at women as though embodiment is more "feminine."

And in that marketing, the binary of the mind and body is recycled, just in a different way.

Now, I totally am onboard with how and why we need to talk about the dangers of living from the “mind” or from the “head.”

Most of the time, when embodiment or somatic teachers use this kind of language, I think they are cautioning us against what therapists call intellectualization.

Intellectualization functions as a psychological defense against feeling and sensing.

Intellectualization is not the same thing as honing your intellectual capacities, though.

This distinction is important.


The feminist theorists I have studied the past 20 years believed in women’s minds—our intellects—our capacity to think deeply.

One of my feminist academic mentors just said to me this month: "I had to learn 11 languages to study the texts I study. I had to be able to say, hold on boys, you are not correct in your interpretation. And I have the tools to show you."

In her case, she studies the Bible. I am not saying we all need to learn 11 languages. I am saying there is a reason feminist scholars are so rigorous and value the capacities of their mind.


In my break from being on Instagram for Feminism School purposes (ok, I secretly have an IG now just for my love of vintage clothes!), the biggest impact has been in not having to take in so many buzzwords.

When I see all those buzzwords, which specifically come at women to sell them something, I ache inside. So a lot of being on IG was achy for me.

When I see buzzwords all over social media recycled and consumed and recycled again in sales copy and consumed, I feel it is because women are being denied opportunities to develop their minds, their intellectual life, their critical reasoning.

And it leaves me feeling sick.

When I see jargon used over and over and over again, I see women submitting to an outside authority.

I love language. I want to see language that is connected to deep thought and feeling—not language that is flattened and put through the machine of selling something.

Jargon and buzzwords come from the “left and the “right.” Flattened language absolutely dominates so-called progressive spaces. It can come from feminist teachers, too. It can come from embodiment teachers. It can come from academics. It certainly comes from politicians.

It definitely comes from fascists.

We are being taught to think in jargon and we are not being taught to actually think.

It is a huge problem right now in the world, and it is part of the energy of polarization, the arrogance of the progressive left, and the popularity of conspiracy theories among women on the right (which can *feel* like critical thinking if you’ve never had the chance to develop real research skills).


When we are recycling buzzwords, we are not only losing our voice, but we are losing out on asking:

--->Why are we not doing the intellectual work? (And the work can also be a kind of play!)

--->Why have we decided the intellectual work, the work of the mind, isn’t part of our commitment to valuing embodiment?

I am not saying to divorce the intellectual process from the body. I am saying that historically women (because of western colonization) have been sold the narrative that their value is in their body (including for reproduction) while being denied spaces to do deep thinking and actual research.

I am so passionate about this because the most insatiable desire in my entire life has been to develop my capacity to both think and feel deeply. You don’t do 5 graduate programs without an insatiable desire to think and learn, and to try to find ways of understanding the world that are not beholden to any one field or any one discourse or set of terminology.

As I taught in my last Critical Theory and Contemplation workshop, drawing on feminist/queer theorist Eve Sedgewick: Words are not just descriptors of reality. More so, they frame our perception—how we see, how we think, how we feel, how we sense.

It is very important to be able to move between different lexicons, and to question why certain buzzwords become buzzwords, and what we are missing if we are not naming and claiming our own intellectual desires for growth.

Who does it serve for women to be told (again and again) that the “rational” is male? That the “mind” is not part of the body? That they as women need to reclaim embodiment but not be given equal support or messaging to understand the depths of their intellectual life? I don't mean becoming a scholar. Your intellectual life might be in a very different expression or medium.

It might not even use words at all, as Eve Sedgewick taught me.

Part of the process of discovering what animates our intellectual life is finding out our giftings—the uniqueness of our voice, how we sense, how we know. The human mind is not the only way to know. Fungi know. The stars know. The mitochondria within me know. The water in the river knows. The mind is a sense, like many other vibrant senses in this sentient universe.

And I ache when women are given messages (explicit and implicit ) that collude with the patriarchal belief that our minds as women do not matter in how we sense the sentient universe.

Yours in the world we are mid-wifing,

Dr. Kimberly B. George
Writer. Scholar. Founder of Feminism School.

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