The Patriarchy Within

Where Does the Patriarchy Live?

It is a month after Trump’s inauguration in the District. I find myself in sacred ceremony, a gathering of seekers and yogis - those creating space in their lives for healing and greater consciousness. Many of us are there to burn through the trauma of past lives. To break away from destructive cycles and create empowered possibilities for growth.

Our facilitator sets intention for the ceremony with an inquiry: Where does the patriarchy live?

Over the past 50 years, we have seen an unprecedented consolidation of the world’s wealth in the hands of an elite few, a result of economic policies created by an inherently patriarchal world order.  Not simply in America, but the world over, the alarming income disparity has devastated the economic security and livelihoods for many working and middle class families.

Trump’s election to the highest political office in the US is indeed a populist response, a referendum on the failings of the status quo and global economy to provide security and dignity for those left behind.  Many cast their vote seeking to break the system, a brick through the window of the establishment.

The irony, however, is that Trump is the ultimate embodiment, a surreal avatar of patriarchy in its most oppressive and depraved manifestations. Subjugation of women, minorities, and vulnerable populations. Brazen, kleptocratic plundering of government resources for personal gain. Short sighted exploitation of the Earth.

And yet, many of those who voted for Trump, many who live in parts of the country decimated under these oppressive economic policies, still seek out a patriarch for protection, for deliverance into dignity.  

How can the patriarchy be both the source of and the solution to our suffering?  And isn’t this inherently the nature of the toxic cycles in which we can find ourselves trapped?

So the facilitator asks: Where does the patriarchy live within us? Within our belief systems? Within our bodies?

Where do we still give away our power and agency, and ask patriarchs to protect us? To deliver us?

Unrooting the Patriarchy Within

In my own practice of embodiment and the cultivation of nourished lifestyle, I continue to seek out and purge where oppressive remnants of patriarchy live within my body, within my psyche. I continue to observe all the societal conditioning that has asked me to shrink to fit.

I observe residual body image issues and the constriction of breath around my belly, a result of societal conditioning that I, as a woman, ought not take up too much space.

I observe a distressed relationship with male gaze, the most depleting of intoxicants.

I observe fear around stepping into my voice. Fear that I am not ready, that I do not know enough. Or conversely, fear that my voice, in its intensity, power, and experiences, will overwhelm my audience, particularly men.

I observe beliefs around marriage and family as an indicator of success as a woman. And that the institutions thereof will deliver me to safe, grounded space. And the gilded cages I have walked into as a result.


The Patriarchy within Modern Health

My nutrition and lifestyle work, it is slow, deliberate, and patient. Live Deliciously is my unique vision, my method, to help clients cultivate nourished lifestyle through food, rhythm, and connection.

Perhaps it is a particularly feminine approach to cultivating health. And perhaps the greatest challenge in my work is uprooting and shifting the patriarchal paradigm of healthcare towards empowering personal personal agency.

We operate in a culture that drives stress and addiction, and then shames us for the health challenges we experience as a result.

Most of us are up against tremendous challenges and overwhelm in our daily lives that it can feel impossible to break toxic cycles and create a way out.

And a diet and fitness industry has built up around us, ready to capitalize on that shame and exasperation. They sell us unsustainable quick fix solutions that are intent on keeping us confused and unhealthy for recurring business.

There is a lot of money to be made in playing into the unhealthy binge-purge paradigm that dominates American diet culture.  The supplement and juice companies that dominate the ‘detox’ industry peddle their products and ultimately train people out of their intuition around healthy lifestyle.

And when we continue to fail- to maintain healthy weight or energy levels, to relieve stress and anxiety - we then turn to a medical industrial complex of insurance and pharmaceutical companies that is, again, invested in keeping us unhealthy and disempowered.

We seek out pills and procedures, modern day sacraments and rituals administered by a new priest class of doctors and healthcare professionals, in which we continue to step out of our own agency, and outsource it to patriarchs.

I’ve stopped calling myself a healer… I don’t want to have dominion over people in a way that removes them from their own agency.

I’m a teacher. I work with clients to step into their agency as their own healer. I inspire them with practical, actionable, and exciting steps to shift behaviors around healthy eating and lifestyle.

And I remind myself- and often – that any advice I am quick to give others, is what I need to embody in my own life. Again and again and again. Only then can I invite others in.

Perhaps it is ancestral feminine practice, conjuring, rising, swelling up against the patriarchy. Slow, deliberate, patient embodiment.



Dahlia Shaaban is Continuum's Nutrition & Wellness Expert-in-Residence. Find our more about her work at

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