As Valentine’s Day looms nearer, is it all about light, love and laughter… chocolates and roses, or might it be useful, fun and interesting to dig below the wrapping and see what happens on the other 364 days of the year?
Most of us have noticed by now that we are living in ‘interesting times’. And wherever you look relationships don’t seem to be doing so well. Many people, our conservative politicians included, often recommend that we go back to the good ole days when men and women knew their place in society.
However, my belief is that we humans are part of a much larger evolution in consciousness and we have entered a healing time of chaos… a time where the old, stale ways of thinking are dying, and new fresh ways of being together are inexorably emerging.
These changes may be inexorable (love that word), but for many of us, these changes feel very confusing and difficult, and for many women they seem excruciatingly slow. Almost every woman I talk to - unless she’s in the first flush of romance – seems to have an endless litany of complaints. And even tho men have plenty to complain about too, the research shows that, in general, men are much happier in relationships than women. So are women just better wingers, or do they just have more to complain about?
Is there really a Battle between the Sexes?
I had a great discussion with a male associate the other day about this subject. He’s done a lot of personal development work and prides himself on living a spiritual life. But he just didn’t buy into the idea that we still live in an unequal/ patriarchal society at all. “No way, inequality is a thing of the past…..well, in Australia at least…..don’t be a victim…we are all responsible for ourselves….and anyhow we are all One etc.
During the conversation, the thing that most amazed me was the lack of understanding and compassion…the complete unwillingness to actually feel for one moment that it just might be a little more difficult for women in this world of ours. And even more interesting, I’ve noticed this a lot amongst both men and women, across all sectors of society. … and many of these people would pride themselves on their spiritual, non-racist, non-sexist, loving way of life.
I remember a similar feeling when I was a teenager. In the days when it was acceptable to tell sexist jokes, I remember the feeling of discomfort and shame, but noted that my less sexist male friends left it to me to either suffer in silence, or speak up. They NEVER said anything. Not even a few words to support me when I reluctantly decided to speak up (and of course, wreck the mood for everyone…. “Gee, these feminist types have no sense of humour!”).
Basically the message was, YOU are the problem. If you didn’t make it a problem , there wouldn’t be one. (Hmmm…my favourite…the ole ‘Blame the Victim’ ploy)
These same good men would speak up vociferously about racism and democracy, but the very construction of masculinity that caused the joke to emerge, stopped them from having a voice.
The Elephant in the room
As good ole Dr Phil says, 50% of any problem is diagnosing it. If we are to end the battle of the sexes, we first have to agree that there is one.
In the West we like to put all responsibility and power with the individual. ‘I did it My Way’, should be the theme song of this era. However, of course, rarely does anyone do anything on his/her own. Yes we are individuals, who need to be responsible for ourselves - and we are also inextricably shaped by the family, society and paradigms that we swim in.
So lets talk Paradigms
I’m a great fan of Riane Eisler. She wrote some fantastic books ie the Chalice and the Blade, and Sacred Pleasure etc.
As an esteemed anthropologist and social and cultural historian, she talks about the profound effects that the Patriarchal paradigm has had on our world. She prefers to call it the ‘Dominator’ system…. because this system is predicated on power. Men having power over other men, men having power over women and children, men having power over the earth etc etc … of competition, the supremacy of might, the domination of logic over emotion.
The point is that this paradigm is about domination in general…not just about men over women. This way of thinking has ruled for approximately 5-7,000 years… most of written history. So long, that most of us don’t even question that it is the natural order of things. So natural, that we even brought God into it, and enshrined it in our religions.
We even misunderstand major works such as Darwin’s ‘Origin of the Species’. We think his main idea was ‘Survival of the Fittest’… ie everything in nature competing against everything else for survival. When in fact, Darwin mentioned the word ‘love’ 97 times, and constantly noted how that overall, Nature was more co-operative than competitive. Wow, really? Do they teach that in our educational establishments???
This dominator thinking is so unquestioned that as soon as anyone gets any power, they almost always end up dominating the less powerful person or group. Maggie Thatcher is a good case in point.
I like this distinction because it means we get to escape that hoary old ‘all men are bastards’ line, and realise instead, that we are potentially all ‘bastards’ if we buy into a dominator ideology.
Despite this however, women have historically borne the brunt of this ideology.
And continue to do so today.
Time to go a little deeper. Why is there a battle?
From a spiritual perspective we could say that this battle of the sexes is just an expression of the great Duality – the playful way that our GodSelf created the world so that we could experience the illusion of separation.
All cool. Fantastic game. My spirit self has enjoyed it tremendously and is grateful for the experience.
It has taught me to deeply know who I am through having my ‘Amness’ stripped away from me. It has taught me to have a voice and continue speaking when no-one would listen. For the empowerment of this, I am truly grateful.
So as I slip back into the physical realm, aren’t we here to balance out and transcend duality?…and don’t we do that thru being and doing love…by perceiving that we are One. And if I am one with you, how could I want to intentionally cause or allow you to suffer … remember Buddhism 101?
Hence, those of us who choose to live from a personal development or spiritual base tend to pride ourselves on being more loving, less racist, we don’t like animals to suffer, we’re more egalitarian etc. Well if we are, how come our relationships are in just as bad shape – or even worse than the rest of the world out there who aren’t into Personal and Spiritual development??
My suggestion is that we are labouring under the same dominator paradigm and have continued to play similar gender power games – admittedly with a few little updates and changes. But not enough to really make a fundamental difference.
Remember the 60s? Free Love… long hair.. the pill etc?? What happened to the women on those communes?? Research tells us they did lots of housework …probably more than their mothers because they didn’t want to buy into all that capitalist technology… and had babies to men that felt less and less need to be responsible because it was like free love, man.
OK so that was 50 years ago…half a century. So much has changed. And phew am I glad. When I went to buy my first house in the late 80s, I was 27years old and the bank insisted that my father go guarantor on the loan. Funny, they didn’t even think of saying that to my younger brother, or asking my mother (who happened to have more money than my father)??
And though things have changed amazingly, we still have so far to go. In India and Iraq, women are ostracised and sent to the edges of the village as virtual lepers, merely because they don’t have husbands. Egyptian statistics say 90 – 97% of women aged 15 to 49, Christians and Muslims alike, have undergone what the UN prefers to call female genital mutilation, or FGM.
Here in Australia, women still don’t have equal wages, and do the majority of housework and childcare.. whilst doing full or part time work. Only the other day, I talked to a lovely gal who is a magnificent masseur with a big heart who was sighing about the 2 blokes she was in a share house with, how they just didn’t get it about the basics of the housework that needed to be done and how she was using it to learn about surrendering. Geez, isn’t it time for us to have some more interesting things to surrender to?
My tradie partner who likes to have his ear to the ground, tells me that the one of the most common phrases men use is, “For her, I’m never good enough. When will she ever be happy?”
Um, maybe when you stop cutting off our clitoruses, and allow us to have our feelings and a legitimate point of view… equal wages would be nice, and maybe help more equally with the housework. That could be a start?
Please be clear, this is not a male-bashing article… some of my best friends are male (LOL) Men have also deeply suffered under the dominator system. (More on this in another article)
Just as men carry historical war trauma in their bodies, just as Jews carry trauma from the holocaust, I believe that women carry a sort of post traumatic stress in their bones… a meme of legitimate distrust of men. Like wild horses that have been broken for centuries, there is always that underlying fear that closes our hearts and our legs….that makes us angry and complaining and depressed …. and divorced.
But surely the time has come, and as we head towards 2012, what a perfect time to change the game forever. For both women and men to put down our swords and shields and look each other in the eye and Avatar-like say, ‘I see you! I see you for all your difference, and all our sameness, and all our magnificence and all our faults. My heart breaks when I feel your pain, and I’m sorry from the depths of my being, and I commit to creating a compassionate, succulent, growing relationship with you… a blueprint of possibility.
How’s that for a Valentine’s pressie?
By Frances Amaroux (BA Psych)– the Love Coach – is available to talk to the media about this subject. She has been a Relationships and Sexuality Coach for almost 20 years.
More about Frances Amaroux here: www.lovecoaching.com/about