2018 THE YEAR OF WOMEN: STARTS WITH MEN
It is undeniable that 2018 is going to be a year that brings a lot of change, hopefully for the better. It will be full of difficult conversations, hard truths, and unlikely heroes finally finding their voices.
This is our year.
The year for women to speak up, rise and fight for equality. 2016 and 2017 provided a much-needed build up of tension, which created the space for us as a culture to face many difficult truths. From inequality-in-pay to sexual-harassment, things are about to change in a drastic way.
However, in my opinion, the year of women- starts with men.
It starts with creating the space for men to accept their vulnerability, understand and own their feelings and value relationships more.
I have seen countless young men come into my office with so much pent-up emotion because they feel like being a "man" means not being emotional. This core belief often manifests into a lot of self-destructive behaviors, low self-esteem, and a whole lot of numbing (sex, gambling, work, addiction) to avoid feelings.
From birth, men are socialized to "suck it up, be a man, be competitive and successful." Expression of pain or longing for comfort often leads to shame and rejection.
We shape little boys into thinking that showing feelings, compassion or being hurt- is bad and shameful.
For years we have raised cohort after cohort of men, who have been given a cultural mold of what they "should" be like.
In order for things to change for women, we first need to start by breaking that mold.
We need to help men learn what it means to have space for emotional connection, feelings and teach them that being a man is more than being successful, unemotional and in power.
It's time to redefine "masculinity."
Humans have both masculine and feminine traits, outside of our physical genders. As a therapist, who gets to see people in the depths of their pain I have realized that we aren't as different as our society makes us out to be.
Men often do not get taught the same values, awareness and emotional intelligence as women do. This often leads to an internal feeling of emptiness, which they cope with by using sex, drugs, work, control and financial success.
I've seen it time-and-time again in my office. Men that do not understand and can not even connect with the emotional and vulnerable parts of themselves.
I do not believe that most men feel superior too or do not value women, in my experience as a clinician it's that men often don't even see the problem because we haven't taught them to be aware of it.
How can we expect change, when we haven't even identified the root of the issue?
You can not reason with someone who doesn't even understand what you are talking about... That's like speaking a foreign language!
So correct me if I am wrong- but I believe that change needs to start there.
As women, I believe we need to take responsibility for our part. We can't give our little boys trucks, footballs and expect them to be the best in sports, without thinking about the messages that that sends them.
We can't tell them to "be a man" or dismiss things as "boys will be boys," without realizing that as mother's, sisters, wives, and friends- we have contributed to shaping the mold.
Yes, we are angry and fed up. I definitely am. I've been cat-called, un-equally paid and treated awfully by men.
That doesn't mean that I can't still have compassion for what it means to be a man in this world.
It sounds like it can be pretty lonely- at least from what I have seen in my clinical work. It's rare for men to have the space to be emotional, vulnerable, truly open up and connect because it is viewed as "weak."
So what do they do? They over-compensate their fear of being truly seen by acting out and using external validators to fill an internal void.
Women happen to be on the receiving end of that over-compensation.
I think it's time to begin having conversations about these issues, not just about the inequality that we have faced as women, but about the world we have created which has allowed men to be this way in the first place.
Men live in a constant state of fear. Fear of vulnerability- the one thing that we all have in common as human beings. It wouldn't be fair not to acknowledge that women have it easier in that aspect-society gives us more permission to have and show our feelings.
At the end of the day, we are not from different planets. We are from the same planet and we all need more compassion, connection, love, and acceptance.
The pendulum always swings both ways.
Women shouldn't have to live in fear of being sexually harassed because of what they are wearing and men shouldn't be afraid to be seen as "unmanly" for wanting an emotional connection and not just sex in their relationships.
Women shouldn't fear to ask for fair compensation and men should not fear to pursue their passion if it doesn't fit the "gender norm" of a masculine job.
Women should be able to be assertive and not be labeled as a "bitch" and men should be able to show emotion without being called a "pussy."
Women shouldn't have to read dating books that tell them to play games and men shouldn't feel like it's ok for them to ghost and ignore someone-as if they don't even exist or don't have feelings.
That's not what life is about- it's about connecting and being seen.
Valuing each other.
Feeling safe and bringing together the two most powerful energies (masculinity and feminity) to create something beautiful.
Here's to a year that's going to change everything...