#fromwomentomen in context
I came across a couple of things this weekend that have given me a working advice platform concerning relationships.
The first thing I came across was this apparently viral video that has been out a year circulated under #fromwomentomen. When I listened to these apologies and the things they apologised for, so much resonated to me and I applaud these women for their honesty. Listening to these women being honest it would have been so easy for my male ego to have become complacent.
But what #fromwomentomen did was explain how they manipulated within the patriarchy in order to survive. They might not explain it like this, it is my interpretation. I am an old compassionate man who lives alone happily. I have loved and that love has shaped my life. I would still say I love women but I have not found a woman to live with. When I was still looking I had a bit of a maxim “women knew how to cope with bad men but did not know how to live with good men”. As usual with all generalisations this maxim offends through its triggers more than being a constructive addition to the debate. However I am putting it out there because it is what I felt. And what I felt fits in with what #fromwomentomen are saying.
But I knew it was wrong to start with #fromwomentomen because what they are describing are skills women have developed to cope with relationships – as a response to men. When you start with relationships you have to start with the prevailing system which is the inflammatory word “patriarchy”. How do women experience this patriarchy? The answer is fear; Teal explains it well here. So in any relationship the “prime objective” is to assuage this fear. Compassion does this so in relationship men need to begin with compassion, they can be authentic, maybe even some of the dubious masculine essence – whatever that is (often it is disguised male ego), but throughout the relationship men need to assuage fear.
Then I came across this – White Ribbon NZ, and there men are asked to take this pledge; in this pledge (and 4D's) I see nothing that compromises any masculine essence:-
Listening and believing women.
Reflecting on and changing their behaviour.
Disrupting other men’s violence towards women.
Treating women as equals.
Choose how to be a man and how I will act.
Talk to a young man about breaking out of the Man Box (more information below).
Think about what they watch and the media they use.
Talk with young men about respectful relationships and pornography.
I also liked their 4 D’s:-
be Direct – challenge them verbally ‘that’s not cool, bro’
Distract – get them to do something else, or ask a question of the person who is on the receiving end of the unhealthy behaviour to engage them in conversation (useful if you don’t feel safe being direct)
Delegate – talk to someone else about what is going on. Ask their friend/parent/workmate/boss what they think of the behaviour and if there is anything they can do to address it. Work together to see what you could do.
Delay – it might not always feel safe to intervene or challenge at the time, depending on the situation, so you can ask them later about whether they realised their behaviour was harmful, or ask the person who might have been on the receiving end how they are.
So far this is the usual one-sided requirements where men are expected to accept all the blame for what is going wrong. Blame the patriarchy. But once you have started here, the individual man has lowered the barriers that patriarchal conditioning has created, and then it is up to women to respond, and here is the response #fromwomentomen that I feel needs to be recognised in its proper context. To go back to my maxim, when good men have shown that they want to end the patriarchal conditioning good women need also to end their own conditioned responses as described by #fromwomentomen. When there is no conditioning in the relationship it can work, as when there is no conditioning there is only compassion and love.