The Shadow King: Protection is promised but not guaranteed

Shadow King, Sidra Stone Voice Dialogue, the sub-conscious energies influencing behaviour.  There are more voices inside us than we can imagine. or understand without inner work.
Women’s power, sexuality, relationship roles, and emotions – all are unconsciously influenced by this compelling inner voice as it echoes thousands of years of patriarchal beliefs. The Shadow King examines this voice and gives a clear picture of its amazing power. And it shows how to transform the Inner Patriarch from an unseen enemy to a powerful ally, enabling each woman to claim her full and unique, feminine power.

Protection is guaranteed in many different contexts: pharmaceutical companies and the medical world promise protection from a wide variety of spread of viruses, germs and diseases; laws promise the protection of information, of constitutional rights, of the environment; cosmetic companies offer protection from skin damage and aging; advertisers of all kinds of products offer protection; governments promise the protection of citizens, nations and borders.

We have a compulsive need to know that our safety is guaranteed

We want to know that we are protected. We want to feel safe. Politicians, profiteers and priests know this and frame their message to allay our worst fears.

“There were no demands from the outside, so it must have been something within each woman responsible for this loss of herself. Something was operating unconsciously, in the shadows.”

Sidra Stone

We deploy safeguards in every area of life

There is apparently a relentless human drive to seek, find and deploy safeguards for every human experience. We have a deep-seated fear of being defenceless, unprotected, insecure. At the same time, there is a proliferation of fantastical ideas and magical thinking that protection is assured despite evidence that this is not the case: rape and violence against women; homelessness and abused children; tortured and tormented animals; the hunting and destruction of entire animal species; and a planet on the brink of calamity. 

In the religious context, rituals and petitions for protection performed and offered to – and in the name of – a transcendent God, saints, or ancestors with spiritual powers, are integral to human life.  Individually and collectively, believers call on unseen protectors to intervene in matters concerning relationships, finances, work, health, safety; nations and countries; life and death.

I am not questioning the truth or value of religious beliefs (I have my own) but I do have questions about religious teachings that compromise women, rob them of their agency, and increase their susceptibility to abuse. To what extent do women internalise patriarchal religious teachings and collude at a subconscious level with their own oppression? 

In all the patriarchal religions the notion of protection is complex and tenuous for women because their protection depends on seen and unseen powers. Men are represented as superior to women in all original sacred texts, and it is assumed that they are the benign and benevolent protectors of women.  

Men are considered superior to women in all patriarchal religions

‘Men are the protectors and maintainers of women,‘ the Quran says, ‘for Allah has preferred some over others…’ 

Hindu wedding: Men are the protectors

In the Hindu context, a woman first belongs to her father, then to her husband, and then if her husband dies, she belongs to her son.  There is no autonomy at any point in her life. She is always under the protection of a male person.

In Judaism, men are also the protectors and women are the enablers.  The commandment to ”be fruitful and multiply” is a commandment given to men, not to women. Women enable men to fulfill their commandments and they are loved, cared for, and promised protection in return.

Image by Josh Applegate – Uplash

Christian women are taught (Ephesians 5:22-24): ‘Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.’

Women depend on their patriarchal protectors

Reports of domestic violence in religious communities raise questions about teachings that promote co-dependency and an ‘I-thou’ attitude in relationships between men and women, where men are supreme and women are in service to them. Women are educated and conditioned to cooperate, collude and collaborate with their protectors, who may also be their abusers.

Sidra and Hal Stone –
Psychotherapists and founders of Voice Dialogue

Is there something in women that longs to sustain the myth of male protection; that perhaps contributes at a deep subconscious level to their own subordination?

The Shadow King reinforces the myth of male protection that women pass on from one generation to the next

Years ago, I had an email dialogue with the American author, psychotherapist, and co-creator of Voice Dialogue, Sidra Stone.  Voice Dialogue is a psychotherapeutic method that assists people to identify and dialogue with their inner voices; voices that belong to various parts of our personalities, our selves.  This is not a symptom of mental illness, it is a part of being human. Each of these selves has its own thoughts, feelings, behaviour patterns, and ways of perceiving and judging the world.

In ‘Voice Dialogue‘ our various selves are invited to express themselves freely without interference of the ego which tends to over-identify with our inner critic, controller, or oppressor. 

Dialogue with an Inner Patriarch

At some time during my communication with Stone, I was privileged to have a session with an American ‘Voice Dialogue’ coach who was in South Africa for a brief visit.  The experience was deeply disturbing but transformative.  I was given insight into the subjugation of what Jung would call my inner anima (feminine aspect) by my inner animus (masculine aspect).  It took me more than a year to integrate and work through what I had discovered and to see how this applied in the lives of other women.

The Shadow King

Stone’s book: The Shadow King explores the challenge that women confront to free themselves from the enchantment of their ‘Shadow Kings” (the internalised Inner Patriarch in women that have ruled women from the shadows of the unconscious for millennia), and to find a new way of being.  

This requires women to hold the tension of the opposites within and expand their vision to include a world that divides human beings into conflicting groups. 

Protection comes from within

Perhaps if more women find the courage to undertake this transformative journey, they will gain a new understanding of the subliminal messages that inform their need for male protection and be in a position to lead the way to more equal and less fearful relationships – and more spiritual expansiveness.

More writing by Melody Emmett can be found here;, here and here. She can be contacted at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Safrea or its members.


2 Responses

  1. Hi Melody

    I’m not sure we will ever unravel this conundrum. There are roles for both men and women and each should be equally honoured. I would like a man to protect me but can’t say I’ve ever met one who might! So I’ve lived without it.
    Just this morning my daughter was telling me about her friend (female) who was in trouble with her parents when a family member arrived and she did not welcome them as is expected/demanded of the female child in the house. Her brother is not expected to welcome guests. Similarly, my daughter shared that when she was visiting and the take aways arrived, the father asked when he would receive his food – the mother had to serve it to him – he could not fetch the take away for himself! 2021 and it’s all around us. We know too well what happens when women object. And we know too well that there are not many men who would stand with them in objection.

  2. Hi Melody
    Thank you so much for this important article. By some miracle I rejected this inner voice that champions patriarchy when I was very young. I paid for it in many ways because I was considered “wrong headed” by possess, husbands, some friends and even strangers. When you speak up for yourself, you are vilified and called names. Don’t think that I didn’t suffer inwardly, questioning whether I was right or just full of it. But now at 70, I can truly say that it has been worth it and I have had the privilege of mentoring many young men and women in the understanding of the importance of the independence of the inner anima.

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