Today I Felt the Shame of Being a Man
What it is like to be woman who is not listened to and suppressed. What men can do to fill this gender gap. Today I felt the pain of being a woman... Today I felt the shame of being a man...
We sat in the cafe, me drinking an Americano and she a Capuccino, talking about our past, feeling our way through the pain and shame of our previous lives. The partners we had mistreated and been mistreated by. The parents who had shamed us into submission, who had distorted our views of reality. Mostly we talked about how long it had taken us to understand and accept the culture of domination and suppression, the culture we had both, unknowingly, bought into many years ago.
A Modern Man
It started with laughing about the ridiculousness of so-called 'locker room talk'. It is not something that I, as a man, had ever taken part in, or ever supported. I felt on safe ground here—I felt that I was a modern man who did not go in for the sexual browbeating of women.
Then I felt the pain of being a woman...
As the sharing moved deeper into the pain, I saw how ever present the demeaning of a woman can be. I saw how much men simply do not realise it is happening. I saw how much I was involved with it in my life, thinking I was a generous man who took care of women.
She talked about how her partner played the victim in her relationship and, through that, made her wrong. How she came to believe that she was the cause of him not being able to cope with the world. She believed it so much that she broke down and burned out because she could never get it right. Even now if we disagree she feels that she has got something wrong. For most of her life her reality was trashed and put down. As a woman she had to understand that he always knew better. Oh, that one really hit me in the gut!
Then I felt the shame of being a man...
I talked about how persuasive I had been all my life, about how I knew better. Well I did! If my partner would only listen to what I had to say she would see that it was right and that it would help us both. I only wanted to make things better. I only wanted us to grow in our relationship. What I started to see was that it was not a question of who was right or wrong, indeed right or wrong did not come into it. I was pushing my reality onto her and grinding her down. Eventually she ceased to trust herself or what she thought. I had power and certainty and a gift with words, so I was always able to make a convincing case. I must be right.
How can we allow the pain and the shame to wash each other away?
This is the core of the gender gap. Women start by feeling the pain but let it go because, of course, men do know better. Men do not even get to the shame because. of course, they do know better.
The women who understand talk about 'rape culture' and 'gaslighting'. The men who do not understand talk about the tragedy of male suicide and fathers who do not get to see their children. They each blame the other and, of course, they are each right, in their way.
The women who do not understand just think that they are wrong, that they are inadequate and retreat into themselves.
Where does the future lie?
I see men holding the key to opening up the future because they are the ones who hold the physical power over women. More importantly, though, they are the ones that men will listen to. Men will not listen to women because, of course, they, the men, know better. They know what it is really like and if the women will only listen...
When men step back and look at themselves—I mean truly look at themselves—they might just begin to understand, they might just see the pain they cause. Maybe they will miss the shame, maybe they will not see it in themselves—yet. But if they can see, and feel, the pain, maybe they can see a different way.
This is the way of equality. An equality that recognises that we all have a right to our own view of reality, men, women, children, white, black, rich, poor, Christian, Muslim... Right or wrong does not come into it. Truth is not relevant. After all there is no objective truth, we all know that. There is opinion which men often turn into domination.
It starts, though, with men. If men can see, and feel, the pain of a woman who is not listened to, of a woman who is told, all her life, that she is not important—beautiful and sexy, but not important—then they might feel the shame.
That is where it will change. When men feel the shame and vow to never feel it again, when men cease to suppress the shame but let it out, when men stop and shut up, when men are willing to go through life and not be listened to, then there can be change.
Today I felt the shame, today I opened up to the shame, today I took a step forward.
Today I saw the pain, today I owned up to causing the pain, today I took a step forward.
Will I keep walking forward? Will every day be like today?
Will I cease to feel the shame because it no longer exists? Will she cease to feel the pain because it no longer exists?
Come back tomorrow and ask us, and the next day, and the next...
Come back and see if the world has changed.
In A Relationship Pleading Does Not Hack It
At dinner I was discussing men with with two ladies and whether love in a relationship is enough. We were sitting in a small Indian cafe in Little India in Singapore. One told us about a man having issues with his girlfriend.
My partner and I were talking about our relationship, how strong it is and what shifts we had to make to allow it to happen. Our friend told us about a man she had been with at lunch who was having issues with his girlfriend. He had problems relating to love in a relationship.
He was dealing with the issues of a long distance relationship and the wildness of his woman. This is, of course, something that all men have to deal with if they want their relationship to work. They had reached a point where things were rocky and he needed to take action. He called her and asked her to come to Singapore so they could talk things out. So, reluctantly, she came and they talked and talked, about the long distance, about love in a relationship. She decided things weren't going anywhere and went back to Hong Kong. He now sits in Singapore agonising over what to do and talking to our friend about it, seeking help.
So our friend wanted me to talk to this man and help him to see how to step up and be a man, and how to understand love in a relationship .
I wasn't able to organise it but through this post at least I can help others in the same predicament.
Having reached a rocky stage he made four critical errors that ensured the relationship would fall apart completely. These four errors centred on his behaviour as a man. If you already know what they are you can stop reading, you are in a great state. If you can't see them yet you need some help so keep reading. These errors are so basic in our relationships with women that dealing with them can transform our lives, can enable us to create love in a relationship.
First error was that he asked her to come to him. You may think that this shows his strength as a man in telling her what to do. No! He was showing weakness and indecision. He wasn't sure of his ground so he wanted her to come to his patch where he felt most confident, he thought it meant he could control the situation. It just showed her that he didn't know what he wanted and that between them they might find a solution. In my view the situation never recovered from this error. It is so basic that you must remember it. Know what you want and go to her. Show your confidence and take your presence to her, show her you understand love in a relationship.
She wasn't sure if she had read it correctly and, being a woman, decided to test him. She went to him to see if he could retrieve the position. He started talking, that was the second error. He should have shown by his energy and by his actions what he wanted, instead he talked. She immediately knew he didn't know what he wanted, he wasn't confident of his position. He was showing his weakness. So she stayed to give him some time, yet another female test. He didn't recover so she left, she felt she had lost any sense of love in a relationship.
Virtually his last chance was to get on a plane and follow her. That could win her over. The strength and presence he would have shown could be all she needed. Of course her leaving was a test to see if he would follow her. No, he didn't, end of story. But never think this is too late, you can still recover at this stage, but it needs strength and certainty.
His ultimate weakness was shown when he went to talk to a female friend about the situation seeking help and advice, trying to understand love in a relationship. Guys, that is the final, devastating weakness. Women are not there to be your confidante, even if they are not your girlfriend. That is what other men are for. We all are unsure at times. That's why we go and have a beer with our mates and moan about women. We get the angst out of out system and find the strength to do what we really know we should have done all along.
The man we are talking about is a clever, successful man, he just doesn't know his manhood. He spent his time pleading and placating. When I said to the two ladies, after hearing the story, Pleading just doesn't hack it, they both looked at me and nodded furiously. That was his simple error, he pleaded with his girlfriend. Women hate that. It's so weak they want to slap you, they want more than love in a relationship, they want a man. Before I made my shift I tried to plead with my, now, partner. She just said to me, I don't need another girlfriend, I need a man. Wow, that hit home. It upset me, but it set me on the track to be the man I am today.
So men, take heed from this man. Don't plead, don't persuade. Decide what you want and go for it with total certainty, the one with the most certainty wins. You need more than love in a relationship, although it is critical.
Finally I just want to say a quick word about female testing. They will always do it, as long as you are together. Women need to trust their men and the only way they can be sure you are trustworthy is to constantly test it. Look for it and love it. If it upsets you, you are finished, try becoming a monk instead.
If I Could Hold On Through The Tears And Laughter
And if I could hold on—Through the tears and the laughter—Would it be beautiful—Or just a beautiful disaster?—What's beyond the tears and laughter?
The lyrics of a Kelly Clarkson song speak to me of the pain of love. They speak to me of the idea that love is hard but worthwhile. They speak to me of someone who doesn't know the way out, the way through to the sunlight. What's beyond the tears and laughter?
Love is such an over-used word that people commonly don't know what it means. They talk about loving and being loved and all they see is connection. But what is the connection? Is it need, desire, control or love?
We all have needs, human needs. Tony Robbins talks about the six human needs and one of the he calls 'love/connection'. Even here he confuses the two.
Connection is a deep need that everyone has have and most people will go to any lengths to fill it. What is the abused wife who stays with her husband doing?
In my first marriage I was filling a deep need to be loved, to be wanted, to be recognised. This was a hangover from my childhood and they need to be recognised by my parents and brothers.
Desire fuels most relationships, at least in the beginning, and there is nothing wrong with that. Desire is what brings people together and creates that essential spark of electricity behind polarity. But, over time, desire can fade out. If it leaves friendship and love the relationship can become deep and fulfilling. If it leaves resentment and bitterness then there is trouble.
Desire fuels my recent marriage, desire is a key component in our relationship. Behind it, though, we have built a deep friendship and a love that is present when we are together and apart. We have built our togetherness on Osho's principle of 'Aloneness'. He uses the metaphor of the Flute player who makes beautiful music with his flute, but when he meets a Tabla player the make amazing music that delights people, together. They are still able to play and delight on their own but together....
Control is the demon that turns relationships into prisons, and worse. Control begets abuse, terror and an deep despair about life. The man who is unsure of his masculinity can abuse his partner to make himself feel superior. The woman who loves too much can spend her life trying to get her partner and children to do what she thinks is best for them. This makes her feel good about herself, but not love herself.
I have spent many years flirting with the need to control, the need to feel that I am in control of myself and my life. But I used to do this through others. I my sons were afraid if me when I was young, my wife felt hemmed in.
So it comes down to love. What is love and how do we know we love?
The answer lies, surprisingly, in what you think of yourself. Do you love yourself? Do you like yourself? Are you happy with who you are and what you do?
Get this right and you will find that what you feel for others will go through an amazing transformation.