‘Changing Times’ Column 2006 – 2007

Have you noticed that when women speak, they sit facing one another; where when men speak, we generally face the same direction, discussing someone or something other than ourselves? Male eye contact, in our society, is for those who wish to be violent, or those who wish to be intimate. Rarely the eyeball of equality and trust.

When a woman speaks, is she heard? Or does the man cut her short and try to save her, solve her problems? Man’s instinct is to put things right. A short, sharp fix without the painful details. It’s not that we’re not interested, quite the contrary. Down deep inside we believe that you tell us, because you want us to take action. That’s what testosterone does to a man!

When a man speaks, he’ll get to the point. He’ll cut out the details so that he can get back to whatever was going on in his head, or his distractions. Vitally important, when every movement or sound could have meant prey, or being preyed upon. Trust and intimacy were probably not such an issue amongst men in the days of hunting and gathering, in tribal days of community and sharing, compared to modern competition and separatism.

But where does that leave modern woman, who may need to deliberate and discuss details, wielding her super-long attention span and knowings of what’s best for those in her nest? And where does that leave man’s nature, like a bear out of the woods in a mental, ungrounded concrete jungle?

Women are accepting their power with both hands, in a world where mental warfare is the go and physical expression has gone. Where passive-aggressive behaviour rules and all things aggressive are wrong. Is that what they call post-feminist castration?

It was a man’s world, within which women have fought for their rights and are claiming their power. It’s quite a woman’s world these days. Our opportunity is to extend ourselves, learn and grow, so we can express both the masculine and the feminine parts of ourselves appropriately.

The old saying that ‘an Englishman’s dream is to get from birth to death without embarrassment’ is quite true, of men. We are ruled by our fears of humiliation and abandonment. The sad thing is that you’d never know it! We are so used to internalising and pretending that we’re “fine”. The finger is safely pointed at women as the stressed out worriers, competing with looks, gossip, addiction to social insecurities and pecking orders. Men are actually worse. We won’t admit it. We’d rather play big, play small, play invisible, survive.

Playing real has got to be the way. Self-awareness and coming from the present is half the battle won. The other half will surely reveal itself once the first steps are taken. In times of stress, I guess we need to check where we are coming from: our love, or our fears. Then take a deep breath and respond to what lies before us. With integrity.

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