Cosmopolitan Column: How to Heal Inner Patriarchy

Self-help column on how to heal inner patriarchy by Athena Laz


How to heal inner patriarchal beliefs

(This Q&A was originally featured in the #AskAthena Self-Help Column in Cosmopolitan Magazine)



I am 27, a gender equality activist and have never been in a committed serious relationship (on purpose). I wanted to spend my twenty’s single committed to self-love, that was always the plan and what I’ve done. However, I feel that I have done the single thing for long enough now and am at a great place to build a long lasting relationship. On all previous “casual” encounters, when I either asked the guy out or vice-versa, I had trouble with letting the guy pay for the meal, drinks etc. I fear owing any man anything because of male misogyny and patriarchal privileges. Truth be told this happens to make family members as well, I just find it so difficult to accept acts of love that can be quantified in money. My question is how do I openly and comfortably accept these acts of love without any struggle? Please note: I don’t think the men I am surrounded by will ever pull any stunts, and even though I know this, I’m just not comfortable in them picking up any bill with the exception of male friends. – Thanks, P.



Dear P,

I could write pages and pages on this.

Misogyny; archetypal stories in which woman (or should I say princesses?) are always portrayed as victims  in need of rescue; patriarchy; systematic financial dis-empowerment.

The list goes on.

Women have a lot of re-writing and healing to do both internally and externally.

A lot of my work and this website is dedicated to this re-writing and if you are interested  you can  watch my conversations with Lisa Lister, Rebecca Campbell and Danielle LaPorte on the topic of rewriting inner beliefs and rising.

That said, WE all need to question our innate allocations of self-worth, specifically in relation to patriarchal based perceptions of female worth.

[ I also highly recommend reading Clarissa Pinkola Estes seminal work , Women who run with the wolves- it will leave you howling- with inner- balanced- feminine belief.]

But here’s the thing: I don’t think your issue is solely related to these things.

I think intellectually you’ve given yourself a reason to avoid facing how you feel about intimacy, vulnerability, trust and relationship dynamics. Consciously, the fear is that you may land up in a dis-empowered position because you allowed someone to pay for something for you.

The fear is that if you accept even one small thing, that it will all spiral and you will be indebted to be/do something that you don’t want to actually do. (For anyone reading this who is in an intimate relationship in which you are controlled because of money – please seek immediate counsel).

However, you are aware of all of this, and I’m assuming here; but I doubt you would let this happen to you.

So what’s the underlying fear?

What happens when you get too close to people?

An act of love is not the same thing as an act of control.

Receiving gifts – one of the five love languages (created by Dr Gary Chapman) – is an act of love when mutual boundaries are respected.

You were clear that potential romantic partners and family members who pay for things make you feel uneasy but not your male friends.

Why is that?

Why is it safe to accept from them but not the others?

Digging into what makes you feel emotionally safe and vulnerable can help you to understand the underlying motives that are influencing you- so that you can change them.

In your case, it’s best to work with a licensed psychologist – who can support you in your process as opposed to trying to do this on your own.

Accepting help – is almost like accepting gifts. It starts with trusting that you are safe in the hands of those who you choose to let in.

Athena Laz is the founder of, where she uses her skill as a licensed psychologist, self-help author & columnist to help others find their inner power.

P.S. Did this column resonate with you? Tell me why- in the comment section below!

P.P.S. Have a  self-help question you want to ask me? Email me here.


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