Although only one of the Eight Immortals is a woman (and one transgender) women play a huge role in Taoism, and Taoism played a big role in the lives of women in ancient China. Often practiced in secret by women who would be little more than sex slaves (wives, concubines, mistresses) to their husbands in the patriarchal Confuscionist regime, women found a way to empower themselves and connect with their inner strength. It is generally said and is also my experience that, at least in terms of alchemical practices, women progress much more quickly than men do, and experience energy and spiritual experiences profoundly with regular practice. Whilst Taoism respects all genders as equal, there is a recognition of the deep spiritual power of women, represented by our power to give life.
Women need Taoism more than ever
Despite our strength as the creators and givers of life, women are disproportionately enduring suffering and hardship in this world. There is a tendency to be collectively disempowered by tools that purport to liberate us, in what portrays itself as a liberated society but has many techniques to keep us insecure and deny us our true power. A large part of this is because we lose so much energy through mismanagement and misunderstanding of our emotions.
When we learn to understand and live in harmony with our emotional states, and to understand and use the energy around us to our advantage, a forte of Taoist practice, we can control our own time and space. We can learn to live around the oppression inherent in our societies and find happiness between the gaps regardless of external pressures.
An example of this is, it sometimes happens that someone might shout abuse at us as we walk down the road. I was taught by a chi kung instructor to take this abuse and smile, embrace it, because the abuser was literally throwing his energy at me. After struggling with the societal conditioning ('I'm a victim, I must get justice...') I started to absorb the insult with a smile and now when this happens I actually feel an increase in my energy. Certainly my energy is no longer being wasted on fear or anger. Learning to transform the negative into what is useful is incredibly powerful and is in essence the teachings of many spiritual traditions. Taoism offers an easy to follow scientific formula that anyone of any faith on the path of self knowledge can access.