There is a sacred union in nature, the yin and yang of the Divine Masculine and Divine Feminine energies. Now, this does not equate simply to men and women, for we each carry a balance of both. The feminine energy is centered around being, nurturing, receiving — the Earth. It sees quantumly, the whole picture at once, and operates in alignment with the cycles of nature. The masculine is centered around doing, achieving, asserting — the sky. It operates linearly, giving its full attention to one thing at a time, with its unique value lying in its strength and ability to see singularly. In harmony, they create empowerment and protection from within.
According to Buddhist philosophy, it is the feminine energy that is more spiritually evolved. (Again, not a men vs. women thing, it just is the part of us that is more connected to source.) So when these energies are in alignment, the feminine is the one setting the tone, determining the pace, guiding the masculine with broad strokes. Meanwhile, the masculine is providing detail, protection, reinforcement.
I had a therapist once equate their roles to that of a fence around a tree — our feminine being the tree, our masculine being the fence. The tree is grounded into the Earth as her branches dance in the sky — source — but without a fence, she is vulnerable, exposed. This is where our masculine comes in.Notice in this relationship, the tree does not grow according to where the fence stands. Instead the fence builds itself to accommodate the tree where it grows. He creates the container of safety for her to play, explore, climb freely into the ether without concern for what is happening on the ground.In turn, she brings her discoveries from above down to him, while at the same time providing him with purpose. They serve each other, need each other in order to thrive.
This weekend, like seemingly all of TikTok, I tuned in to watch the heavily anticipated New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears. The feature-length documentary, promoted by the Times as a “re-examination of her career and a new assessment of the movement rallying against her court-mandated conservatorship,” paints a deeply unsettling picture of the mechanisms behind Britney’s evolution from fame to infamy. And for me personally, her story felt eerily familiar.
In the documentary, critic for the New York Times, Wesley Morris, recalls Britney’s warm reception upon stepping into the public eye. “The video [for “…Baby One More Time”] shows up… She owns the hallways at this school… and it isn’t the sex part that seems cool, it’s the control and command over her self and her space that seems cool.” She exuded a charge over her presence, her sexuality, her femininity, her power. Britney Spears was, at that time, the walking embodiment of the Divine Feminine. And because of this, she became the target of the Wounded Masculine.
The Wounded Masculine and the Wounded Feminine are those Divine energies out of balance, skewed by internalized pain, shame and beliefs of unworthiness. Throughout most, if not the entire history of humanity, they have yet to access the purpose and flow that comes from entwinement with the other. This misalignment has resulted in a Masculine that is not guided by the Feminine, and a Feminine that’s dimmed its shine, severed its connection to intuition and source; a Masculine that projects its shame onto its counterpart, seeing its goddess energy as emasculating, a threat, and a Feminine whose power is feared rather than celebrated.
This fear of the Divine Feminine by the Wounded Masculine is perfectly depicted in the character of Judge Claude Frollo in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Do you remember “Hellfire”? That f**ked up song where he decides to sentence Esmerelda to be burned at the stake if she rejects his advances again, despising her for making him covet her?
“It’s not my fault. I’m not to blame. It is the gyp*y girl, the witch who sent this flame. It’s not my fault, if in God’s plan. He made the devil so much stronger than a man… Hellfire. Dark fire. Now gyp*y, it’s your turn. Choose me or your pyre. Be mine or you will burn.”
He refuses to take any accountability for his own emotional experience — any sense of self-awareness warped by an overinflated ego, developed to protect him from his own internalized shame — instead placing the blame on her. What the Wounded Masculine cannot control, understand or possess, it must destroy. In Framing Britney Spears, we see that she, like Esmerelda, was thrown into the flames.
We see the process begin when she is just a child on the talent show, Star Search, and Ed McMahon playfully asks her if she has a boyfriend. When she replies, no, that boys are mean, he responds, “You mean all boys are mean? I’m not mean. How about me?”
While the intent of this banter did not seem to be malicious, there is a much deeper impact than meets the eye. Obvious misogyny aside, if you watch closely, for just a moment when he asks the question, there’s this look that flashes across her face — you can actually see her realizing that something feels wrong, that she is uncomfortable, that a boundary has been violated. And what’s so heartbreaking is not just that the question was demeaning, or that it made her uncomfortable… it’s the moment following that flash of uneasiness, where we watch in real time as this 10 year old girl suppresses her distress, stifling that inner voice signaling that something is amiss. In favor of decorum and people pleasing, she invalidates her own feelings and intuition. And while it’s unfair to expect a girl of that age to have the skillset to advocate for herself in a situation like that, we see this exact moment repeat over and over and over again throughout her career.
It triggers a special kind of disgust, as we’re shown interviewer after interviewer stampede over this woman’s boundaries — scrutinizing her body, her breasts, promiscuity, virginity, love life, mental health, personal life, fitness as a mother… to her face. The heart aches as we see the fawn trauma response — people-pleasing used as a means to reestablish safety — become activated in her time and time again. She was taught from day one that she was not entitled to boundaries, was not worthy of them. And these people gaslit her every step of the way, luring her into their interview chairs under the guise of having her best interests at heart.
“It’s okay Britney, you’ll be safe with us. We’re only trying to protect you, Britney. That’s why we need to make you see how it’s your fault, how you’re too sexy/innocent/childlike/scandalous/a cheater/a nasty woman/a bad mother/an addict/a partier/reactive/crazy/too much/not enough to be worthy of our love. We need to save you from yourself, Britney. Listen to us. Trust us. We’re only trying to help you.”
Having myself been a victim of narcissistic abuse, this was all extremely difficult to watch. A narcissist, or person with narcissistic personality disorder, is an individual who is driven by an underlying, unprocessed shame, who manipulates their targets in order to secure them as a source of energy. Lacking the capacity for empathy, they are the quintessential energy-vampires, using that of others to feed their own unhealed wounds, to negate a belief of worthlessness. These individuals are almost incapable of taking accountability for any harm they cause, blocked by an overbuilt ego developed in childhood to inhibit the experience of shame.
Narcissists secure and abuse their targets in three stages:
Idealization or “love-bombing”
Isolation and devaluation
The first stage is where the narcissist draws the target in, bombarding them with love, affection, adoration. They quickly learn what it is that would attract their target, then shift their behavior and persona to become that, telling them everything they’ve ever wanted to hear. These people make the target believe that they see them like nobody else sees them, that they understand them like nobody else understands them. This constant flow of affection and attention triggers irregular amounts of dopamine, to which the target becomes, quite literally, hooked. Soon enough, the narcissist has secured a position of trust and laid the groundwork for the next stage.
Here, the the narcissist begins to slowly but surely cut the target off from their support system. This is done for two main reasons — (1) So that the target becomes an energy source available exclusively to the narcissist, and (2) because a target is more easily manipulated when they have nobody else to help them recognize their abuse. It may look like physical separation, with the narcissist limiting or undermining the target’s time spent with friends or family, often by picking fights or creating distractions. Or it may look like emotional isolation, with the narcissist demanding the ongoings of their relationship and dynamic kept secret, under the guise of wanting “privacy” from outsiders who wouldn’t understand. Once the target is isolated, the abuse amps up and the devaluation begins. All of the admiration and attention showered upon the target in the beginning is taken away, replaced with distance and coldness. The target, now cut off from the affection that they have become literally addicted to, places all of their energy into pleasing the narcissist, scrambling to gain back the warmth they received in the beginning. As an added layer of manipulation, the narcissist will often pepper in inconsistent, diminishing bursts of effort and affection, training the target into being grateful for the tiny scraps of kindness they are given — known as “bread-crumbing”.
The second stage also ushers in the narcissist’s weapon of choice: gaslighting. Gaslighting is a method of manipulation in which the abuser aims to get their target to question their own reality, memory, or perceptions. If the target were to ever call out the narcissist’s shift in behavior, they will either be called crazy, told that there has been no shift… or they’ll be made to believe that they are to blame for the change. This ungrounding from reality is designed to make the target lose faith in their own judgment and intuition, instead placing it completely in the hands of the narcissist. Once this happens, the devaluing will likely escalate, the target’s worth coming subtly under attack so that, on some level, they feels that they deserve the abuse they are receiving, even if only perceived on a subconscious level. By now, the narcissist has obtained full control, freedom to feed at will — off their finances, their clout, their love, their joy, their life force… all of it.
After months, years or even decades of this manipulation and abuse — having their energy stolen, boundaries imposed upon, worth belittled, connection to intuition and higher-self severed… a person can only take so much before they snap. And when the victim finally does react to their mistreatment, the narcissist is able to point the finger at them, having now demonstrated that they are, in fact, the crazy, irrational, reactive one — classic narcissistic gaslighting…
“See! You are unhinged. You are a bad person, not enough. You’d better put your faith in me, you can’t be trusted to make your own decisions. I need to save you from yourself. Listen to me. Trust me. I’m only trying to help you.”
By now, the victim has become just a shell of the lively, vibrant person they once were. Eventually, they will become depleted, at which point they, having nothing left to offer the narcissist, will be unceremoniously discarded.
This cycle of narcissistic abuse EXACTLY matches the trajectory of Britney’s treatment by the media and people of power in her life. Statistically speaking, the vast majority of individuals diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder are men. I was not surprised in the slightest to see the flock of vampires who gathered to feed off Britney to be almost uniformly male.
My skin crawled watching Matt Lauer gently, out of “concern”, show her how bad of a mother she was… seeing how Justin Timberlake put a bullseye on her back, listening to him giggle with pride when asked, “Did you f**k Britney Spears?”… hearing Perez Hilton boast about the money he makes off of her undoing… watching John O’Hurley, then-host of Family Feud, be tickled pink as contestants ridiculed her for her struggles: “Name something Britney Spears has lost this year…!” And the interview with her brother was particularly chilling: “The women in this family are very, very strong minded and have their own opinion, and they want to do what they want to do. And as much as I admire that… it kind of sucks, man.”
What cannot be possessed, understood or controlled must be destroyed. It was the Wounded Masculine’s fear of the Divine Feminine personified.
Britney’s breakdown was brought on by years of narcissistic abuse. And it’s not that men did this to her. Her abusers — both men and women (I’m looking at you, Diane Sawyer) — were products of a culture driven by a Wounded Masculine who has dominated and suppressed its counterpart out of fear; a culture in which the Divine Feminine has been made a target,deemed dangerous. The whole world stood by gawking as they sucked this young girl into their vortex, all the while insisting that they were standing still, that she was the one who was spinning. Though, perhaps on an individual level, they did not all have the personality disorder, they collectively behaved as an abusive, manipulative, devaluing, bread-crumbing, gaslighting, controlling, life-force-sucking narcissist.
And oh how they danced as the witch burned.
I can’t describe the rage I felt being presented once again with the abuse this woman was made to endure. It was sickening — not just for how she was mistreated, but for the way I saw myself in her, saw her pain as the pain that every single woman on this planet has felt. Britney is a microcosm of the macro, depicting the abuse inflicted upon the Divine Feminine as a whole by the Wounded Masculine. We have been suppressed, invalidated, told that we are worthless and not enough, gaslit, abused, assaulted, harassed, unvalued and unseen. Throughout history, our cries have fallen on deaf ears, our pain, gone unwitnessed. We have been manipulated, devalued, discarded.
As a collective, the Divine Feminine went through its awakening back in 2012. We have woken up to our suppression and to our power, began the journey of rising up to our sacred place of balance in the world. We’ve begun to go inwards, healing our ancestral wounds and the Feminine as a whole. But we’ve been left waiting on our counter part — where are our Divine Masculines? So far, there has been nothing to be called divine there.
As much as it may seem enticing to demonize the narcissist, it is important to know that personality disorders stem from childhood abuse, developing when the child suffered such emotional trauma that they were forced to create emergency coping mechanisms to survive. The result of those mechanisms is the product we see today — the adult narcissist.
The Divine Masculine has suffered deep wounding as well, wounding that has severed its connection not only to its own Divinity, but the Feminine’s as well. It has been told that it is unsafe to feel or express emotions, softness, stillness, love; that its value is achieved, not inherent. It has been inundated with a deep, festering shame, fostering the belief of not being worthy of stepping into the sacred balance, not enough to cherish, protect and embrace the Feminine. This Wounded Masculine’s search for validation outside of this alignment is what has lead to the suppression of the Feminine, to her wounding. In turn, the Masculine carries the energy of that harm done to its counterpart, perpetuating the cycle of injury.
But these cycles are finally beginning to be broken. It’s foretold that now is the time of the awakening of the Divine Masculine. It is waking up to its own destruction, wounding, its violations against the planet and the Feminine energy. It is no accident that Britney’s story is coming to light now — it’s a part of the awakening.
But before the Masculine can take its place in balance and harmony with the Feminine, it must first take accountability for the impact of its actions, must look upon the damage it’s done and process that shame. This is not a punishment, but a freeing, for what is felt can be released. The stories of abuse emerging from the shadows now are a part of the reunion of the Divine Masculine and Feminine, cleansing our collective wounds so that we can take our places beside each other, healed.