Loving Men, Respecting Women – (The book in a nutshell)
Long ago, Woman and Man, in unconscious collusion, made up a story. It was a story so deep in psychic resonance that it rules to this day. The Story’s a perfect fit with romance and sentimentality and instinct and chivalry. It’s also in alignment with our differing physical appearance and vocal characteristics. It is, in its way, an erotic story—charged with Eros and bolstered by the myths and the mythos dating all the way back to the mighty Odysseus and the fair Helen of Troy. The Story doesn’t hold up under logical scrutiny, but, against such profound psychic resonances, logic doesn’t stand a chance.
The Story goes that Man has the power and Woman is the victim. It’s the story you get when you compare conditions for the average woman against conditions for the elite male. It’s the story taught in school and radiated throughout every facet of human culture. Even so, it is only half the full story. And only half of all human facts and truths support it. The omnipresence (and exaggeration) granted those select facts and truths will make it seem as if our belief in The Story is based on fact and truth. But it’s not. If it were, contradictory facts and truths—no less factual and no less truthful—would not be so rejected.
Men have the power, women are the victims: it’s a sentimental version of gender reality—and we believe it religiously. Why’s that bad? Because The Story is one-sided, which is why it’s false, which is why it’s toxic. It’s a story of Man the oppressor and Woman the oppressed, ManBad/WomanGood. It’s a story that maximizes inter-sex rancor, resentment, victim, and vengeance motives. And it has escalated the Battle of the Sexes into something like a “war.” The Story’s poetic but poisonous.
What if we believed a different story, a story that includes the other half of gender reality? What if we shook off the primitive instinctual—and the gender ideology that sprang from it—and believed instead what our deepest intuition tells us is true? In the benefits enjoyed and in the liabilities suffered, in the power and in the victimization, in the freedoms and the constraints, the joys and the sorrows, the good and the bad, It All Balances Out between Woman and Man—and it always has.
Historically, the gender system has certainly been less than perfect, inflicting injustices on both sexes alike. But these injustices have come out even. Ours has been an imperfect yet essentially balanced gender system, except for one thing—the highly imbalanced gender belief system.
The other half, the FemalePower/MaleVictimization half of the story, remains officially shut out because neither sex wants to hear it. Focusing on gender reality as it plays out along the Respect Axis, feminists have “proven” to us that women are the powerless victims. Though it goes against the grain, by focusing on gender reality along the Love Axis, their male equivalents can “prove” that men are the powerless victims—the brutalized, short-lived, disposable, suicide sex. Whatever judgments and attitudes such a claim may provoke in the reader, in facts, statistics, truths, expert opinions, emotions, studies that show and data that indicates, these Men’s Issues Activists can match feminist rhetoric note for note. For every female complaint, there is a mirror-opposite male complaint. For every one CEO there’ve been many POWs. Hard/hazardous labor, battlefields, prisons, mines, the streets, the sewers—men have always occupied both extremes, the most and the least enviable positions on earth—the latter in far greater numbers than the former. Meanwhile women have largely occupied the middle ground; that is neither oppression nor victimization, that’s an even deal.
The Deal: In exchange for enduring the Glass Ceiling, women were granted a Glass Floor that tended to protect them from sinking into the dark side of the world and human nature together with most of life on earth’s most deeply brutal, harsh, hazardous, and corrupting realities. In exchange for enduring the worst of it, men were granted the tip of the pyramid and the status and “success appeal” that went with it. In the brutal past, Woman prioritized a relatively soft and safe environment for herself and for her children. For this reason, Woman was equal partner in creating and maintaining The Deal.
Could the emphasis on women’s victimization simply reflect the greater empathy accorded women? Could our greater love of women be the only reason why only female concerns are raised to the level of major societal concerns? Beauty/sexual power, motherhood power, majority vote and consumer spending power, feminist ownership of gender ideology and gender politics, moral authority, the greater power to elicit empathy and inflict shame: is The Sisterhood truly powerless? Might it more true that Woman and Man are evenly matched? What does your intuition tell you?
Imagine, if you will, a gigantic scale with love on one end of the balance beam and respect on the other: this love/respect dynamic upon which gender balance pivots can be described in two brief statements:
Throughout history, both sexes have tended to respect men more than women.
Throughout history, both sexes have tended to love women more than men.
A Balanced view of gender reality is revealed in the following four key statements:
- One: At birth, members of both sexes are assigned roles, socialization, and conditioning that facilitate and ensure a world in which men are more respected/less loved and women are more loved/less respected.
- Two: Historically, men have been no more empowered to escape their biology, role, socialization, conditioning, and concurrent fate than women have.
- Three: The two sexes, equally powerless and equally powerful, have plied an equal overall force of influence in the molding of our world, and are thus equally responsible for outcomes.
- Four: The power that comes of being more loved equals the power that comes of being more respected. And, therefore, throughout history, the enormous consequences suffered by women for being less respected have been matched in full by the enormous consequences suffered by men for being less loved.
These four statements are key, because taken together they lead inexorably to the one key truth: It All Balances Out! Balancing out the “official” gender belief system, that is my goal; that is what this is all about.
Someday, rather suddenly, the MalePower/FemaleVictimization paradigm will collapse like a house of cards.
I submit that no human mind can hold the entire female experience on one side of the brain, the entire male experience on the other, and claim to know, with certainty, which side is lighter/which side is heavier; which is happier/which is sadder; more fulfilled/less fulfilled; freer/more constrained; which is “better”/which is “worse.” The reality of the Big Picture is a reality that simply does not support any such certainty. In its place, what you end up with is mere opinion. Being a matter of opinion, the contest for the coveted title of Most Powerless Victim can rage back and forth ad nauseam. What must we endure and for how long, before we set victim and vengeance aside and finally, inevitably call it a draw? It is exactly because there is no agreement and no certainly in these matters that we might as well be magnanimous about it. Someday, we must take a leap of faith, demonstrate a little gender generosity, call it even, and begin anew.
I’ve heard Man apologize, for war, pollution, crime, “machismo” . . . In my dreams, Woman says to Man: I accept your apology and in return I apologize for manipulating all those things that you dominated. In equal partnership, we created the dark side of the world and human nature. It has afflicted us in different ways but in equal measure. Sorry for projecting the evil onto you; sorry about a lot of things. The gender illusions we created together in unconscious collusion, blinded us both. Seeing beyond those illusions, it’s clear that women are far more powerful and men far more vulnerable than our illusions permitted us to see. I accept the politicized male perspective as equal to the politicized female perspective, and I invite you to speak your piece with my blessing. Afterward, let’s vent and laugh and cry and negotiate together.
Loving men enough to offer both accountability and compassion, respecting women enough to offer both compassion and accountability, the goal ultimately is an equalist movement that would combine the mirrored concerns of men and women under one gender-neutral banner. Only then can the gender politics of the future be built upon a healthy foundation of fairness, forgiveness, maturity, love, truth, and Balance.
List of Mirror-Opposites (pdf)