Yesterday, I met a man – one man of many.
He was smart, educated, friendly. He was young. He asked what I do for a living, as we were in a somewhat business setting.
I told him I am working to empower women, that I coach and teach courses about creativity, and that I’m writing a book about women, creativity, sensuality, pleasure and power.
He smiled back and seemed interested. He then asked why the book wasn’t for men, too. He said, “You’re losing half your audience if you leave men out.” or something to that effect. I smiled and thought about that for a moment. Yes, that would be half the population. It could be half my audience if the book spoke to both genders.
I asked him to elaborate. I asked him to share what he meant.
He then told me that when he first heard me speak about what I am doing, his first thought was that this was about Feminism and he felt himself recoil, feeling that he didn’t want to hear it. But, he stayed with me.
At first, I was so surprised that he felt this. I told him so. I felt into what I had said, looking for where I might have interjected any sort of rejection. I couldn’t find anything, but then so much can be unconscious.
I then spoke to him about how I see things. That feminism isn’t about rejection. It is about honoring.
Feminism is about women being recognized, witnessed, honored, respected, and treated as full human beings by all. It does not reject, it honors.
He then said something to the effect of, “You know, I ‘d love to talk to you more about this. I have a group of friends, men, that would love to talk about this.”
We continued to talk about women and men, and about how things can be generational – how women and men from different generations see this all differently. Makes total sense. And then our conversation ended.
My Heart Knows
As the day came to an end, I continued to consider our exchange. I became very curious about this sense of recoiling, rejecting, ‘othering’ that happens between many men and women, even women and women, when we speak of feminism.
How do we work to end the institutionalized forms of discrimination in the world that so inhumanely treat women and children when there are so many tender feelings that get triggered between us?
I’ve been working to separate out my anger at how things are from the desire of the mind to reject, to separate, to make wrong. Anger can be a fiery force that fuels change. It’s not bad. If anger is here, it must be felt so it moves through. And as it moves through, it can fuel my work to make things better. But anger projected onto others just pushes away. It rejects. I know it because I’ve done it over and over and over. It doesn’t feel good.
My heart certainly doesn’t reject. My heart knows this is about wholeness, about the basic goodness of all beings. My heart doesn’t fear. It longs to connect, to heal, to create something new where all are honored. My heart knows this fiery force of anger can be a positive force, bringing forth a creative power from within.
My mind tends to ‘other’…meaning, it sees other people as something separate. When it fears, it wants to compare pain, compare injustices, compare anything just so it feels separate and better, and therefore safe.
Finding balance within ourselves
I looked in this man’s eyes and saw such a willingness to listen, to hear, to consider, to talk. He came back into the conversation, after feeling the quick pangs of wanting to reject. What a beautiful moment that was.
I know our hearts were listening to each other. Somewhere inside we actively chose to stay in it, to listen, to hear, to witness. And in this moment, my mind softened into my heart. I could see the humanness in him and his desire to know and understand, and his desire to be heard.
Somewhere inside of me, I reject my own masculine qualities. And, I reject that I am capable of heinous acts as well. Somewhere inside, I don’t want to see. This man’s gift to me was just this…he didn’t reject me. And in this act, something inside me was healed. I can’t speak for him, but I hope he felt a similar sense of acceptance and experienced being heard, witnessed, honored and respected.
Listening into Liberation
I’m going to take him up on his offer to meet with me, to hold conversation, to listen without separating and rejecting, to hear with an open heart.
Somewhere within, I know, we women must make the move to liberation – a liberation that begins from within, disentangling ourselves from the beliefs we hold that keep us snared and entangled in the old thought structures and paradigms that required the word feminism to come into being in the first place.
The real question is, how can we move toward this liberation, reclaiming the feminine inside and the feminine out there, without rejecting the masculine out there and the masculine within?
Your joy is my joy. Your sorrow is my sorrow. Your success is my success. There is no separation. There is just One.