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Women ~ get your shields up … ?
Advocating for the safety of women doesn’t mean that men suck
The other day I posted to my Google+ account a clip by Louis CK (see here) in which he marveled at straight women’s willingness to continue dating men, considering that men are the leading cause of death to women. This post started to get some commentary from men who felt defensive, claiming that I was contributing to the problem because I was advising women to “shield up” by painting all men as aggressors. The implication is that by talking about violence against women, I am driving a stake between the sexes.
The post also sparked some remarks about some straight women’s supposed tendencies to only want to date rich men or handsome men (which I’ve blogged about before – here and here) and how I was supposedly encouraging women to not give some guys a chance.
Simultaneously I got involved in a separate conversation (debate, really) about women only wanting to date “bad boys” – with a follow up debate on what actually constitutes a bad boy – and how the good guys seem to always comes in last.
WOW what rich subjects – and I will create blog posts on each topic.
First I’d like to address violence against women, which is the underlying thread in Louis CK’s video clip. My overall intention here is not to further polarize women against men, but let’s face facts here before we move on. Check out some statistics from the World Health Organization:
- Recent global prevalence figures indicate that 35% of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. (This is where the One in Three figure comes from.)
- On average, 30% of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence by their partner.
- Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner.
Read more here.
To achieve lasting change, WHO recommends that we (personally and legislatively)
- address discrimination against women;
- promote gender equality;
- support women; and
- actively move toward more peaceful cultural norms.
The truth is, if there is to be peace in the land, we all have to agree to protect the sanctity of women. Actually it would be even better if we all agreed to protect each other’s sanctity, including our own sanctity. And Harm None.
So perhaps men who are prone to get defensive about this topic might want to examine what’s underneath their defensiveness (what’s the fear or concern?) as well as become more educated and involved. The Battered Women’s Support Services has a section of their web site dedicated to this very topic: here. (And seriously, ladies, wouldn’t you be far more attracted to a guy who stood up for your safety? Isn’t that why we all swoon over Superman, the Knight in Shining Armor archetype? That is pretty sexy, IMO.)
All that being said, I by no means posit that women are off the hook in terms of creating harmonious relationship interactions. I don’t advise women to expect anyone to provide for everything and to attend to their every whim, while they do nothing in return. All of my work as a spiritual counselor and as a coach is centered on empowerment – give women all the tools and practices and support they need to take charge of their lives, to reclaim their own inner Goddess, sacred and potent, that they really are. At the same time, I can understand if a man feels taken advantage of, when a woman expects the man to always pay. That is not equality at all. If both parties were more in their power, they would communicate to each other, even in the early stages, their needs for reciprocity, quid pro quo and all of that. This is all part of a conscious, healthy relationship – which is what I want to help support.
In addition, while I am overall dedicated to liberation and women’s empowerment, that does not mean I want to isolate women from men, to have women reject them and deem them un-needed. Liberation, in my eyes, means that women have the confidence and the resources to go for what they really want in life. To not make decisions from a disempowered position, based on thinking that they are not smart enough, savvy enough, strong enough. I’d love to get women financially independent, to have the freedom and safety to choose, without being put in a subservient position, or having to rely on men to survive. To get women to make choices from a position of “I want this in my life because it nourishes me” – and NOT make choices from a position of “I have to live with this unhealthy situation because without it, I am financially up a river without a paddle.”
I’d also love to help men to step into the full expression of their empowered self. In my ideal version of society, men and women both are balanced within themselves, as well as within the world, comfortable with both “masculine” traits (i.e., thinking, analysis, action, initiative) as well as “feminine” traits (i.e., feelings, intuition, creativity). The tough part is that many men are super uncomfortable to open the door to this new world view, are resistant to receiving help, afraid of being labeled as “soft” or “queer” or a “pansy”. I’m not talking about having men gather in the woods and cry their eyes out, but to be fully comfortable with being kind and thoughtful, to communicate and to be ok with realizing they don’t know what they don’t know – while at the same time “being a man” (whatever that means). I’m very lucky in that all of my male friends are all of these attributes, but I understand that they may be the minority.
I think the interplay between men and women is vital, on a deeply spiritual and philosophical and psychological level. Let’s just agree that violence against women should not ever be tolerated.
Next up: the gold-digger issue and ways to intelligently screen out potential partners who may exhibit this tendency.