http://thoughtcatalog.com/2013/i-dont-know-what-i-mean-to-you/ This is my post rewritten and published by Thought Catalog! Whoo Hoo!
If we consider how most languages other than English ascribe masculine and feminine articles to all their nouns, consequently linking those things with gender…perhaps we can realize how ingrained beliefs about gender roles are in other cultures.
Take some time to examine what qualities are associated with each gender in another language, and try to imagine the effect of growing up with that gender association.
Be thankful for English’s neutrality. It is contributing to the spread of gender equality throughout the world. But also be patient and understanding that disparity can begin in language itself. Change is coming, and cannot be forced to come faster.
Shame is an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behavior. Brené Brown, whose earlier talk on vulnerability became a viral hit, explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on. Her own humor, humanity and vulnerability shine through every word.
Three months ago, I emailed someone about beginning to learn Blues Dancing. At that time I had a partner, and was ready to jump in. However, I got no reply and then I realized I didn’t have a partner anymore either.
This was not the right time.
Then yesterday I met up with a wonderful friend who was visiting from Minneapolis (and who may move here soon). As we spoke, Blues Dancing came up again, and I felt my old passion for it returning. When I got home from seeing him, there was an email from the Blues Dancing group apologizing for misplacing my email until now! What synchronicity! They also informed me that there was absolutely no need to bring a partner.
Hmmm…maybe that means this is the right time now.
“Long before there were cities, books, and inkwells, there were clans, caves, and middens. Human societies were shaped by the exacting rules of evolution: losers became extinct, winners survived. The crucial module guaranteeing the tribes continuance was the family unit. All members prospered under this arrangement. A man was cared for by a solicitous woman and learned about the pleasures of playing with small children. A woman enjoyed the security she needed to devote her time to her offspring. Each gained a friend, lover, confidant, and helpmate. Children matured in a safe atmosphere guided by two caring role models. The tribe as a whole could count on the steady replenishment of both skilled hunters and pregnant mothers. This system works better than any alternative ever tried.
A husband and wife, over time, begin to resemble one another in physical appearance. The melding of their physiognomic features is also reflected, to varying degrees, in their souls. A woman’s presence in a man’s life tends to soften his hard edges, just as her proximity to him tends to stiffen her central core. A mate increases the possibility that each member of the couple will exhibit that difficult-to-define quality called common sense.
Men and women often arrive at conclusions and plans of action differently. Some situations are best addressed by focused, step-by-step “masculine” logic, while holistic, “feminine” intuition comprehending many components in a complex whorl is better in others. Couples benefit from having access to each other’s major hemispheric processes, which over time also strengthens their own personal minor mode. The blending of feminine knowing and masculine reason in each individual and each couple generates good sense. The wisest figure in the mythologies of ancient cultures was often a hermaphrodite- a male-female- such as Tiresias, a blind seer.
Humans belong to that class of animals called “social predators.” Their hunting strategy resembles that used by wolf packs and lion prides; all members of the social unit hunt in concert to kill prey. The protracted childhoods of human young made female participation on these forays unfeasible. The all-male hunting party came into existence in only our species and with it the ethos of the left brain.
The template for all subsequent male projects remained the original hunting party, the ultimate purpose of which was to kill. Therein lay the problem. When men began to spend extensive time in each other’s company, they amplified each other’s hunter-killer instincts. When the hunting party became an “army,” the prey became other humans. The result has been a historical record pungent with the acrid smell of fear, havoc, and death.
The greatest counterbalance to men’s death-dealing inpulse is to engage them in the lives of women and entangle their legs with children. The most dangerous result of these all-male cultures bereft of the input from women is the loss of common sense. The phrase “common sense” has several meanings. In one, it is the wisdom of all the senses, a holistic and simultaneous grasp of multiple converging determinants. In this meaning common sense is intuitive and is often the opposite of logic. In another meaning, it is the wisdom of more than one person. It is the result of the give-and-take of face-to-face conversation with another, which allows one to ‘hear oneself think.’ In this second meaning, common sense is wisdom generated ‘in common.’
Confronted by a knotty problem a person of turns to a trusted adviser, not so much to receive the solution as to engage in a problem solving dialogue. A man can resort to two entirely different advisers: his female significant other or another man. His interactions with these two most likely will be quite different.
There are certain conventions men generally obey when talking to each other. Dialogues occur in the light, with no physical contact, and both men are dressed, facing each other vertically. When a man consults his woman, it is often at night, in the dark, while both are horizontal in a position of repose, and there is frequently skin touching skin.
In both these colloquies, he talks in order to bounce his ideas off his listener and evaluate his or her response. The male adviser or woman confidante serves as his sounding board. Men, over many centuries and across a diverse range of cultures, would concur that in interpersonal matters, the best “sounding board” is often a soft pillow with a woman’s head on it. Further, this syzygy of skin, night, and goose feathers is conducive to sleep. A thoughtful person when confronted by a difficult dilemma for which others demand an immediate answer will frequently withhold his reply until after he has “slept on” it. By using this common saw, he tacitly acknowledges the vital importance of talking over the problem with his mate before falling asleep and then letting the right hemisphere dream its wisdom into his response. Come morning, horizontal thinking has worked its magic and the individual has arrived at an answer that makes common sense smile.
Men need the counsel of women to help them sort out what is important from what is folly. This need is particularly acute if the man is the head of a vast enterprise. In such situations the other men to whom he might turn for advice-those under him-will often have their own personal agendas, which may influence the opinions they give their alpha male. The wife of the alpha male is often a truer resource-sharing his life, her fate is intimately entwined with his. And the alternative kind of wisdom she brings to his problem make her counsel so uniquely valuable to him.
Few men who have enjoyed a good relationship with a woman would disagree with the proposition that a woman’s assistance in male problem-solving is indispensable. Eliminating her from the process greatly increases the possibility that a man might make a wrong-headed decision about matters of import. History books are filled with such examples.”
~Leonard Shlain, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess
Super funny, and quite insightful
Be considerate of your 30-something. It’s not that they don’t want to go with you to that random rager in Bushwick, it’s just that they have actual work in the morning and don’t want to sacrifice a good night’s sleep for a night with people who go to random ragers in Bushwick, only to wake up feeling like a punctured bag of ass. Technically neither do you, but you’re still at the age where The Night still matters. Unless it’s never mattered, in which case, good for you. You win adulthood. Go to bed.
Occasionally your 30-something will try to talk to you about things you don’t understand, like the underlying idea of top sheets and the point of having an alarm clock, even though you can totally set an alarm on your phone. But don’t freak out. Learn about what those things are, and perhaps also mention that you…
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I have been feeling guilty about wanting to stop seeing my therapist, mainly on her account. In this context, she asked me if I am very concerned with how I affect other people. Strangely, this innocuous little question knocked me for a loop.
My first reaction was “that doesn’t resonate with me at all.” We both paused, waiting for me to continue.
Magically, in the best way therapy can, this opened up a new avenue into my psyche, one I would not have discovered on my own. I proceeded slowly at first. I related that I am more concerned with how others affect me…but that didn’t sound right. Did that mean I am obviously self-absorbed? Goddess forbid! I wanted to find a shred of evidence that I did care how I affect others.
When I couldn’t immediately, I defensively explored out loud that it seems useless to be concerned about that because it is just guessing then. If someone doesn’t tell me how I have affected him, how can I know? Why be concerned about that? I felt better, almost smugly proud, after making this arguement. Then I backtracked.
Memories of worrying about my negative effect on people started trickling into my awareness. Once I admitted that I do care about my negative impact, I realized that I rarely or never consider how I positively affect people.
Friends, mostly women, have told me how wonderful I am, how happy they are to know me, but oftentimes I barely believe them. I don’t accept the compliment which means I don’t take it personally. My inner self never receives the message. In my philosophy class, my teacher explained that we are active participants in being offended; someone says words but we have to accept them to be truly affected by them…we stab ourselves with those words and feel offended. If I don’t want to do that, why would I want to refuse the positive words, preferring to stab myself with negative words of my own choosing?
I continued to talk out loud in general, even though I was thinking in specifics, namely, my ex-boyfriends. I was getting choked up, realizing I have no clue if any of them were positively affected by me. How do they even remember me, if they do at all?! Something close to panic began to grow inside me. I kept talking to keep it at bay.
My therapist and I are both Scorpios, so it was easy and natural to seque into the following point. In all the love horoscopes I have read for fun, Scorpio women are highly praised. I have read countless times that you will never forget a Scorpio woman, you should hold onto her if you are lucky enough to find one, she is passionate, loyal and worth the ride! This used to bring me pride and confidence, but after a few “failed” relationships, I cannot help but wonder why no one has thought that about me.
I am not proud of that thought, and I am still exploring who I would actually be compatible with. It is becoming clear that I might be falling for the “wrong” kind of man (subject for a future essay). However, this journey had helped me to see that I hope I did positively affect the men I loved, but I doubt I did without any proof. Only one of my exes is someone I talk to, and I don’t think I affected him much if at all.
Looking at my last relationship, I wondered if there was any evidence I even affected him while we were together. Did he change at all to accomodate me? Was our relationship a dialogue or two one-sided monologues? I haven’t looked hard enough yet, but there is one memorable thing which he did differently after he got to know me better. I was pleasantly shocked when he first did it. After we showered, he would wait for me to wipe all the water from my body before handing me a towel. That made me ridiculously happy. This was a sign that he noticed a preference of mine and was willing to do something differently for me! It seems silly even as I write it. I am having trouble thinking of anything further…something that was for me and not just any woman.
After we broke up, for good, I wanted to complete our relationship (along the lines of: http://www.interchangecounseling.com/blog/6-steps-to-completing-relationships/). I doubted he could do it, but I still asked. When he didn’t respond, I accepted it wouldn’t happen. Then when he did ultimately refuse, I pretended to be ok with that. It is just now I can acknowledge how painful it was. By not needing that for himself, he was demonstrating he didn’t care what I needed. So I will never know how I affected him, for good or ill. His lack of communication on this is, in effect, a denial that I did affect him at all. I feel written out of his story, and that is more hurtful than anything.
I want to believe the best relationships are those between people who are mutually affected by each other in positive ways. Perhaps the men I have loved did not want to be impacted by me and we broke up because of this. Maybe this is a red flag I have never looked for…maybe my lesson here is look for people who know how to be affected, who know how to love in dialogue.
(Although I don’t believe this next statement yet…I want to:) I deserve to be in a relationship in which my partner is happy to be changed by me, through me…and so he must truly see me. I am more than a woman; I am my Self, unique and myriad. I am also fluid, willing to be changed, to be affected…I am not rigid and attached to one “right” shape. And while I have no idea what it feels like to be in a love dialogue, I do know it is what I want for my Self, and choose to deserve.