Today is a day to celebrate the women of the world! I am a son, a son-in-law, brother, brother-in-law, a husband/partner, uncle, friend and father to a precious little girl. So I want to celebrate the women of MY life. I am also aware that our society is experiencing a backlash regarding women’s equality and around the world so so many girls and women are simply not free to live life on their terms – if at all.
When it comes to my work and women there can often be some confusion. First, some people think that because I am for men I must be against women. Frankly, that is just sad. I will also own that I have not been as outspoken as I could have about how much women’s issues mean to me. Women’s issues ARE men’s issues as well. Just as men’s issues are women’s issues. And all gender issues are all of our issues.
The following is an excerpt from my last book, A Man’s Way through Relationships. It is a section entitled “A Long Way to Go.” You can also listen to the podcast I did with Kristin Walker of Mental Health News Radio called The Year of the Woman that chronicled the powerful lessons I learned about how I can best support women with my work.
A Long Way to Go
I often tell people that a lot of my work comes from a feminist perspective, which gets different kinds of reactions. I explain that feminism simply means that I believe (1) men and women are inherently equal, and (2) we live in a society that is far from acknowledging that truth politically, socially, and interpersonally. Men and women are equal and different. This view can lead men to realize that, even if they do not see themselves as endorsing feminism, they nonetheless agree with its central tenets. It should not have to be so significant that we create a space in our world to acknowledge and honor that women are equal.
It also has to be acknowledged that around the world there is still a war against girls and women that is horrific and claims victims every day. Women are far from being free in many countries where basic human dignities are denied to them. Education and the ability to choose a husband are unavailable to women in certain countries. Others routinely practice female genital mutilation. Sexual slavery and
human trafficking, which also affects boys and men, is epidemic in many parts of the world, and the buying and selling of children as if they are chattel is feeding the pornography business.
David said the biggest change in his understanding of women since coming into recovery is that they “experience a lot of oppression.” Some men see this and other men do not. Yet every human being knows what it is like to suffer, notfeel good enough, and feel powerless. It would seem that this is the place where men need to find compassion for the plight of girls and women in our country and throughout the world. It doesn’t mean we are the bad guys or the problem, but we can either help to change the oppression of girls and women or perpetuate it. That is the choice every man has. Fighting to end this reality has to be a part of our journey in becoming the best men we can be. As a woman said at one of our trainings, “Men’s privilege and white people’s privilege are part of the Water.” I couldn’t agree more.
Nate said, “I have a close relationship with my daughters. I strive to help them become all they can be and to have an equal place in a ‘man’s world.’” We have to look at what we have internalized and see how it shows up in our lives. I see it all the time with me, if only in how often I still objectify women sexually, as well as in some of the judgments that still come up for me regarding women’s intelligence or competence.
If you want to have healthy relationships with the women in your life and you want to help raise your daughters or your friends’ and neighbors’ daughters or your nieces to be strong, beautiful, intelligent, and powerful women, you have to pay attention to this. All of the men I interviewed with daughters talked about how conscious they were of the fact that their daughters learned from them how to be treated by men. Mark said about his daughter, “She is a dream, and I am always looking for ways to teach her how to be treated by men.” I know that how I treat Nancy teaches Grace everything about how men treat women and about the man I am. I will never be perfect, but I pray that Grace will always see a father, even when he is angry or upset, who chooses peace, respect, and love. Ray said this about raising his daughters: “I feel a great responsibility to show them what it is to be an honorable man.” Amen.
If you are interested in reading more of my book or purchasing it you can go here. If you have already read it please consider rating it on Amazon (apparently those matter!) AND keep your eye out for my new podcast The Man Rules that will be launching next month!
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMAN’S DAY!