The preparation for the 4th class of the Effective Conversations course is difficult for me.
I sit in the living room with Eli and share my plans for tomorrow’s class. “I want us to learn how to see reality from other perspectives, get into their shoes,” I say.
When we understand that everyone is a hero in their own eyes, everyone believes themselves to be good and moral – we can understand them better. Yes, even terrorists. They don’t see themselves as terrorists. They see themselves as freedom fighters. They believe they have to save the world from colonialism and their people from the occupation and injustice. If we can see the reality from their eyes, from their perspective, get into their shoes, we will see ourselves in them. We will see that we hold on to the same unresolved issues they have because they are a reflection of ourselves. If we can be compassionate to them, if we can listen deeply, they will drop their guard, feel safe, feel heard, their suffering and resistance will decrease. The conflict may turn into a deep heart to heart conversation.
As our conversation goes on, we start to talk about white supremacy, and in particular menwho don’t respect women. How on Earth can we see the world from their eyes? I realize it is very hard for me. I’ve come across a new trigger. “The growth path never ends,” I say, smiling, to Eli. I take a moment to adjust emotionally and ask Eli if he can channel one of those chauvinistic men. For the sake of this exercise let’s say someone like Trump, what would his thoughts be? Why from his perspective are women less than men?
I ask him to imagine himself as… “No need,” he says, “I can easily get into this role.”
“I would not call myself a white supremacist. I’m just a real man, maybe a bit old-fashioned, a rational man. And, I wouldn’t say I disrespect women, I would say that there is a difference between men and women that our modern society is trying to eliminate. Feminism and equality are wrong concepts that disrespect the differences. Men have lost their masculinity and women have lost their femininity over this attempt to flatten the differences. That, in turn, caused lots of problems in our society: high divorce rates, loss of passion, more confusion of the gender roles at home and in work environments and more LGBTQI+ people.
“Women should do what they always did, raise kids, look after the household, cook for the family, support their husbands and take care of their appearance. Men should do what they are good at, lead and be strong, provide for and protect their family. This is just common sense and what has always worked. Women that focus on having a career neglect their family, abandon their kids who miss out on education and lose attachment to their mothers, and that’s also a problem.”
“What about sexual harassment?” I ask.
“I don’t justify that, but there is a lot of grey area there. Some women use sexual harassment to hurt and manipulate their bosses that don’t give them a raise. If a woman advances her own agenda using sexual innuendo and behaviour and then changes her mind, sues the man and says it was sexual harassment – that’s unfair as well.”
I feel myself tightening. I take a deep breath and take a look inside. An old fear surfaces. I was always afraid to be weak, to be seen as a sexual object, to be taken advantage of, to be dependent on a man. I never felt safe in the world. I felt that the world was not a safe place for women. I could never get rid of this deep belief.
I wanted to look good, and I wanted to be wanted as a woman, but not for my body alone, not without my soul and my qualities being seen. This “game” is confusing for so many women that find it hard to balance the seemingly contradicting needs.
Eli sees that it’s not easy for me to hear that and he reminds me that those are not his opinions. He reminds me how much he is proud of me for doing this work for the world and that I’m so much more courageous than him by putting myself into all those conflicts. He can’t do that.
It helps me loosen up. I can see now from a “real man’s” perspective why they believe they need to be strong at all costs. Providing for their family gives them meaning, a reason to live. Everyone needs to be needed, appreciated and important. It’s the safety from which men can go hunt and take risks. It’s the primal brain of the hunter. But, things weren’t so simple, and that balance never worked well. Unfortunately, men oppressed women throughout history. Women were murdered, raped, abused, used, controlled, shut down, ridiculed, and burnt at the stake. Women have had to endure so much suffering and trauma. We treated Mother Earth in the same way. Her giving nature is endless and her ability to create life is diminishing at an alarming rate. Mother Earth is not herself anymore. Nature needs to recover.
Oppressing women throughout history has brutally deprived women of their true feminine nature and power. Women can’t be soft, accepting and loving unconditionally any more. Mother Earth cannot be nutritious and abundant as she once was. The more this happened, the fewer women were able to truly love and accept the men for who they are, instead, they were met with a fearful gaze. Men could not feed their souls at home anymore and in turn, became even more aggressive, took forcefully what they believed to be theirs, to fulfil their needs. But, those needs were never truly fulfilled. They were left empty and ashamed of what they did, and never processed the guilt that caused this cycle to get worse and worse. It pushed men to go to war, to accumulate more, to consume more, to take advantage of natural resources, run after status symbols and be as powerful as they can, stepping on anyone that got in their way.
The feminist revolution wanted to fix the inequality, the unfairness, put an end to the suffering and bring women back to their power. However, since the game we played for so long was built by men and for men (the game of needing money to survive and thrive, the linear success that pushes to have more than we need and nothing seems enough), women were doomed to fail. Women fell victim to that game as well. We did our best to fit into this war-zone society, develop successful careers, be part of the decision making so we feel acknowledged, safe and respected. We only fit in if we became men. And maybe that’s what the “real man” is talking about when he doesn’t like career women. I can see the importance of our differences.
I remember myself as a little girl wanting to be a man. I hated my feminine body. I had a terrible period-pain, and I tried to hide my emerging breasts. Unconsciously, I resisted being a woman. I just didn’t want to be weak. My unconscious thought was “If I am weak I’ll be raped. No way!” Unsurprisingly, I was a tomboy. In elementary school, I wanted to do only what the boys did, at middle school I learned martial arts and fought only against boys that were two heads taller than I was. I trained hard to be appreciated for my physical power and went to the gym to have my muscles show. I was proud of the bruises that I got from fighting at the dojo, for strengthening my bones. Is this Feminism? Equality? That was what I thought back then.
If you were to know me today, you wouldn’t believe that I was like that. It took me more than a decade to unwind these deep-rooted beliefs about women and appreciate my femininity. Only from this honest acceptance of myself could I do what I do today. I can go into all those difficult conversations and conflicts, hold space for hurt souls to express themselves and explore their emotions, biases, traumas, cry and shed their old patterns of the past. I can see them through the walls they created to protect themselves, where they lost the connection with their hearts. I’m the mom they never had, the one that “should have” loved them unconditionally.
A society that truly understands the power of femininity appreciates the feminine traits of softness, compassion, intimacy, vulnerability, sharing, cooperation, expressing, feeling, motherhood. It would be a society where women empower men and men empower women and we cherish our differences for the greater good of all. Women’s natural traits are the best “weapon” to balance the anger, greed, control, helplessness, cold-minded rationality and self-destruction that is so prevalent in our current society. Men today have lost their way, they have been detached from their feelings, stuck in a loop of having more and never having enough, running after empty success to the extent of self-destruction and the destruction of Earth itself. They are desperate to be held and seen.
A new man awaits to be born, one that will have no need to repress women and other living beings to meet his needs. He will protect Mother Earth for he knows in his heart her true value and the value of all life on our planet. He will be more powerful than ever, connected to his heart and his vision, motivated by wholeness, he will see the whole picture, this the leader we all wish for.