Posted October 24, 2013 by Cooper Point Journal in Arts & Entertainment

What Women Have Started Wars?


Local author Cate Montana talks about unleashing the feminine within.

SF: Some may describe your journey to that of “Eat, Pray, Love”. Do you think there is any truth to that? What goals do you think you accomplished on your journey?

CM: The book is similar to “Eat, Pray, Love” in that there is a woman’s spiritual journey after she has had a certain amount of living under her belt.

You know all of the world’s dreams of all the goals and ideals we need to live up to. The perfect life, making X amount of money to be successful, get married, and have children to be happy. I came to the end of my rope about age 30 where I was like, I’ve done all of this stuff.

My whole goal in life was to be as good as a guy, in a guy’s world, and beat them at their own game. I never thought about being a woman because a woman was somebody who stayed at home, raised babies, and did nothing with their

life. I had this tremendous prejudice against women, and I didn’t even know it.

    It wasn’t until I began to take a look at everything and think, but am I happy? I felt there was this core, something missing inside of me. That put me on my spiritual journey. I interviewed a shaman in 1999 for a Native American paper. He started talking about his culture and how men and women live, and he said “Where are your women in the United States? What are they doing?” and I was like, what do you mean?

SF: Like your girlfriends?

CM: [laughs] Not quite. He said “Where are your women, what are they doing?”

    My response was, “They are teachers, doctors, mothers, and wives. Why do you ask?” And he said “In our culture, men and women have very different segmented jobs, very sexually delineated jobs. The men hunt, they fish, and cut down trees. The women take care of the kids, they are the harvesters. The men and women have equal power on the tribal council and equal say in the tribe, but there is one job that the women perform that is the most important job in the tribe, and in fact?”

SF: And it’s not bearing children?

CM: I was like Ok, what is this job? He said it’s human nature for the man to be aggressive and driven. He will hunt until there’s nothing left to kill in the forest, and he will cut down trees until there is nothing left to cut. It’s a woman’s nature to be in touch with the environment, in touch with her community, and to know what the needs of the community, including the environment. It’s the job of the women to tell the men when to stop because if we don’t, we’re not going to be in a balanced relationship with our environment.

    I couldn’t imagine women would have enough power to say anything to the men, let alone saying ‘stop what you’re doing’. In my culture I only had power if I could become something other than a woman, like a reporter or a doctor; then I got authority.

    Part of men and women getting to know each other is having to walk a mile in mens’ moccasins. How would I ever be able to understand that our culture, like our monetary system and our market economy, was developed by men? I thought I was a liberated woman, and I am, but only so far. However, to be liberated to think like a man, act like a man, work like a man, have goals like a man, and even, to make love like a man, where is the liberation of my female feminine spirit?

SF: What advice would you give to young women in regards to being not only a successful woman, but a capable woman?

CM: I think first we have to look at how success is defined in our society, and how have I been set up as a young woman to define success. By the time you’re 12, you already know if you’re headed down the college path or what you want to do. You’re already thinking about your career, income, the kind of lifestyle you want, the clothes you want to wear, etc.

    We look at things very externally and we judge ourselves fiercely on externals. That can be one measure of success and I think it’s important. But we have to think about other kinds of success. What makes you feel good? What opens you up? Those are the kind of moments that are not so driven and we can start to open up to different values of what we would like to define success as. How are my relationships, how do I feel as a human being, as a woman? Do I feel seen as a woman, or do I feel seen as a sex object?

    I think being capable means being a whole person. We have two genders in this world and like in the Daoist system, there is a yin and the yang. Everything in this world has masculine and feminine qualities; not just a sexual gender orientation, but qualitative characteristics that people have within. Men tend to have more masculine, and usually portray that. Women are alike, but women are learning to train to be  more masculine, left brained, focused and logical.

SF: Yes, there are a lot more women going into math and science professions.

CM: Absolutely, and doing so well at them. So I think capable means being able to operate from empathy and compassion. I think it is about being able to manifest a rich logic, the ability to compartmentalize, and this beautiful side of us is available.

SF: Do you think feminism today is declining and falling backwards or propelling forward?

CM: I think the sky’s the limit. We are magical, creative beings and  we need to unhook ourselves from the restraints of society. As far as feminism is concerned, it has reached a point where there needs to be a huge wake-up call that equal is not the same. I can do a mans’ job and give him a run for his money. I even worked in construction so I could get out there and keep up with the guys. And that’s wonderful, but it’s not the whole point. The values of community and cooperation and mutual support are dismissed. Masculine is only one form of expression. We’re like a car with two cylinders, but we’re only operating on one cylinder. And our world shows it. We’re limping along badly, because we are missing the feminine aspect as an equal partner. I think feminism really has to expand its horizons and get out of this whole compete with the guy, like I can stand on the front line and get shot. How many women have started wars?

SF: Not very many.

CM: How many women have started wars? Over what? Men’s religions, men’s monetary system, men’s boundaries, men’s sovereignty, men’s ideals of nations and conquering.

SF: Queen Elizabeth I is the only one!
CM: Yes, there you go. She was in a man’s job. She was in the paradigm. She was born into it, just like all of us. But when are we going to change the paradigm from the inside? We have to realize what’s missing is the feminine qualities and valuing them, for the feminine. That’s what made the Shuar women in the tribe down in the Amazon able to tell the men to stop, because men and women were equal on a value level.


By Sara Fabian