The ‘Almost’ Impossible Dialogue Between Us — Women and Men
This article seeks to initiate a dialogue between us, men and women. One, in which each side takes responsibility for its part of the hardship and opens an understanding heart for the other. Its purpose is not to paint a victim picture or perpetrator narrative for either side. Acknowledging that men have been the perpetrators throughout history, we also need to understand that victims by nature cannot and will never remain innocent or silent over time. They seek revenge and become perpetrators in their own right.
While reading, allow the complexity to touch you. Don’t count the arguments for or against ‘your’ sex or look for a 1 to 1 balance in what is presented. Most things cannot be compared mathematically, but are rather the dynamics of a much larger picture. Keep an open mind and challenge yourself to refrain from comparing whose pain is greater.
We find ourselves in an ever-deepening vicious circle of blame, protection, and righteousness, where trust further erodes with every day. Women and men perceive the world differently in many ways, but for the sake of political correctness are asked to discard of these differences. Loud voices in our media landscape and academia are busy nurturing and protecting ideas of perfect sameness and balance. The growing demand for ‘being equal’ of course is based on the pain of inequality that has pervaded centuries of unimaginable pain. Talk about men and women as gender identities are not tolerated very well recently.
The majority of people though still face the challenge of living in heterosexual relationships and the difficulty of finding trust and respect to make them work. Healing and understanding are only possible if differences between us are acknowledged and understood instead of being politicised.
A Political Discussion Only Creates Further Division
When one side wins and the other loses, we lose sight of the need for one another. For example, let’s look at the pain caused by male dominance in the workspace opposite men’s fear of loneliness. Now, which is more important or painful? It is difficult for us to look at pain and fears without doing something about them or taking sides. Not every argument stands opposite another. We fear vulnerability and rather shift our focus to comparison and competition of who’s the better sex or the one who’s suffered more. In the process, we’ll miss the bigger picture and block ways of finding closeness. The dialogue is about creating a deeper understanding and knowing that beliefs, actions, and protectiveness on each side have consequences.
Healing Happens Both On The Personal & Collective Level
On the collective level, we set policies and laws that are crucial to creating safe environments and social structures, but they also lead us to righteousness and tribalism. It’s where we hide individually. It’s far more difficult to face the complexity of our personal desires, fears, rage, and needs. As long as we want to feel better and superior, we can’t embrace our individual inadequacy and take responsibility for it.
Anger, Fear & Disrespect Are Forces Driving The Rift Between Us With Distrust Being The Result
As stated earlier, for good reasons men carry the burden of being associated with much of the evil of the world. Endless deeds of aggression have been perpetrated in the name of religion, power, ideals, the search for meaning, and also out of fear of women. Women, on the other hand, feel the multi-generational pain of humiliation and abuse. It sits on a deep collective level, often unconsciously, and the subsequent rage finds expression through revenge that is ‘safe’ for women to express. Men, in turn, are afraid of this rage and have a strong impulse to control it. The rage has taken different forms over generations, in which men are downgraded as fathers, receive less importance in the family, are unloved, and often seen merely as utilitarian. Taking this narrative a little further, men are deeply dependent on women. This dependence is experienced as a fear and results in the urge to control women from an additional perspective. Men may act as if they are better and stronger, but don’t really feel that way.
It Is Difficult For Men To Express, Let Alone Understand Their Vulnerability Related To The Dependence On Women
Part of this dependence is based on the fact that men miss a basic sense of connection to life leading to a relentless search for meaning, at times with catastrophic consequences. Being less connected to life also makes it easier to take life (the readiness to kill). Both, because for men the meaning or spiritual nature of life is unclear, but also because death, your own or someone else’s, potentially feels more meaningful than life itself. Women are by nature more connected to life, aided by their flexibility to adapt and compromise makes them stronger in many ways. Women have an intrinsic connection to life due to the potential of child-bearing.
In today’s public discourse, men have been marked as guilty and a one-sided picture is beginning to form, excluding the acknowledgment of comfort, progress, protection and maintenance which men also manifested beside the destructive sides. As human beings, we are not very good at holding two opposing experiences at the same time. It confuses us and we feel more comfortable taking a side.
We Have To Become Honest About Our Inner Complexity Of Conflicting Fears, Desires & Needs
Different needs create different perceptions of what’s important or meaningful to us. Each side is fighting to give attention to what is meaningful to them. On some level, we share many similarities, as we use the same vocabulary to express ourselves, share institutions for learning and yet in many areas of life feel different, simply different. These differences are shaped by different hormonal concentrations, induced by cultural and gender conditioning, as well as some defining physical differences.
Creating a deeper understanding of the differences in needs and perceptions of reality, allows respect and love to take shape. It’s about sharing a mature responsibility in creating a more complete picture. We want to let acknowledgment of that complexity paint that picture, instead of getting lost in fights about violence, inequality, and disrespect from both sides.
In Order To Stop Competing, We Must Agree That We Need Something From One Another
Every woman has a story in which she can’t forgive a man for his trespasses and every man has a story in which he feels guilty and carries the fear of a woman’s anger. However, feeling or acting as if we’re better or worse, more or less guilty than the other is dynamic with deep consequences. Once one side is given a definitive categorization of being good, bad, childish, superficial or any other one-dimensional definition, it becomes impossible to receive something of value from one another. We are closing off the avenues that allow love to flow and take shape.
The following list of dynamics between women and men sheds light on some of our limitations, qualities, and interdependencies. They provide us with insights as to what we need to face, learn respect, and understanding between us. They also speak to the potential for growth and development through one another.
Feelings should become more meaningful for men…
Feeling too much creates confusion for men and confusion causes distraction. Distraction from what you may ask; from pursuing goals, whatever they are. Turning feelings into something meaningful nourishes men’s understanding in seeing the value in social connections beyond their practical nature. Men, through women, can learn to take feelings seriously and attach them meaning.
The Body as a gateway to life-affirming behavior…
Both biology and conditioning have taught women to become familiar and take care of their body, due to the impact of menstruation and the care needed for childbearing and nurturing. The male body by biology and conditioning is more utilitarian. On a deeper level, its biggest utility may be death itself, as it would signify the most meaningful sacrifice. In the male body, feelings are more likely to be channeled through the genitals rather than the heart. Female touch becomes almost an alchemical power as it brings delicateness into the male body and heart, which is challenging for men to achieve by themselves. Through women, men can learn to listen to the wisdom of the body and to take care of it. This will connect men more to life.
Understanding that protection and aggression are closely linked…
The feminine wants and needs protection. This way she can trust, relax and nourish. Instead of having to be vigilant, she can safely feel deep in her heart while communicating, cooperating, attending to details, caring for her body and her environment. In order for her not to be vigilant, the male has to be alert, but vigilance comes with some form of aggression; the readiness to fight. Women want their men to get angry when necessary, but to stay cool and non-aggressive when circumstances become confrontational. These lines often become blurred. Women can learn to refrain encouraging fearlessness in men. This will give legitimacy to a less destructive side to emerge.
Why women have to be chosen and why men have to choose…
The feminine in many ways reflects an abundance, a flow, and a presence that wants to be seen. Dance, dress, the attention to detail are all forms of sharing this abundance that longs to be seen. Men often see only the illusion of the outer appearance and miss the essential feminine part that lies behind the outer expression. Men then choose a small part of the feminine expression and once other parts of this abundance are expressed, they are overwhelmed. Men need to learn how to choose consciously.
One way to being seen is to be chosen. Men have to consciously decide that they give up parts of their freedom and commit, but often don’t know their importance or relevance to their partners. They know they need to be proactive, which is related to an immense fear of rejection, but don’t understand the wider context.
Men can learn to better understand how they can be in service to the feminine on a deeper level, and the feminine can bring clarity to her needs instead of expressing judgment or pointing to failure. This way the ‘game’ part of relating is reduced and more consciousness enters the connection.
Money as an expression of love and control…
Men want to be appreciated for what they give, however, their giving is often contaminated. Men have learned to pay for love. Bringing home money isn’t enough anymore, but men are unclear as to what is of value in a relationship. It’s a tough challenge for men to balance the giving because they often don’t know what to do.
Women often don’t feel that money from men comes as an act of love, but rather that it comes with demands and a hint of control. This is a complex topic since for men both aspects co-exist; the wish to give and the need to control. Honesty is needed here to openly talk about this important dynamic and how both sides feel about it.
Fatherhood plays an important role in growing the capacity to love; it legitimizes care and gentleness in men. Showing vulnerability is harder for men, for many reasons, and being a father softens men in a ‘safe’ way. Women and men can acknowledge this lack of natural connection instead of judging it while allowing imperfection in male care (with a smile). This makes it more into a joint effort, rather than a competition.
Empowered women, who are strong, mature, self-reflective and responsive are needed to bring sanity and balance into our lives. At times throughout the article, it may seem as if empowered women are needed to cover for the weaknesses in men, but this is neither the case nor the intention. Men who are loved and respected simply become better people and are thereby able to contribute to their environments. We should see it more as a joint undertaking, in which both sides come together in love and create something bigger, stronger and more healing for the world around them. This happens because both understand their strengths and weaknesses and step out of competitive mindsets while learning to respect and value the differences.