To begin, allow me to say that I am PRO-WOMEN and believe in the feminist movement. I feel strongly that women deserve equal opportunities in the workforce, health care, politics and should not be discriminated against anywhere/anytime. I am pro-choice and vote that way consistently. In fact, the plight of women (particularly in the third world) is one of the largest geo-political challenges our world faces. These are realities that I am informed of and am sensitive to – and are not the focus of this article.
This is not an angry article from a guy with a few scars in his past. But, it’s rather an attempt at objectivity towards social dynamics, the dating scene and relationships vis-a-vis the feminist movement here in the United States.
This series of articles could offend or ruffle feathers. If so, it’s important that we avoid knee-jerk, unthoughtful responses, and attempt to think on this topic with a new openness and objectivity. Understandably, this could be difficult. But, in my opinion, this is the elephant in the living room. It looms large in social circles, social dynamics, dating interactions, and in intimate relationships. It is time now to begin the process of understanding this elephant and then develop a means for evolving past it.
I am a dating coach for men, so in writing this article being objective is a challenge. Allow me to state then that I have been working at this now for nearly a month, cutting and scraping away as much as possible saving only what seems to have value and the feel of truth. Also, I work with men almost daily on cultivating a more empowered, healthy lifestyle which will enable them to relate with women in a more healthy way. I am very acquainted then with the feelings of powerlessness, guilt, anger and shame which plagues a large selection of our men. I also struggle regularly with my own challenges, and in plotting a course for evolution for myself, and my clients.
Let me begin by honoring the great work done over the years by countless, hard-working women to carve out equal rights in many areas which were previously unfair. The movement has allowed for the protection of women in cases of rape and domestic violence, made available maternity and voting rights, and rights in the workplace.
But, I cannot help but notice a startling consequence that seems to occur in intimate relationships between men and women. Since the rise of feminism, the divorce rate has dramatically increased and men are quietly developing an unhealthy anger towards women, a resentment at a new disenfranchisement – the unfairness and inequality in the cultural, social and dating circles which is profoundly stacked against men. We are now seeing a growing circus of men acting this anger out in horribly destructive ways with potentially devastating consequences.
My thesis is: Feminism, and the subsequent assertiveness of women, has led to a profound polarity shift between men and women, and has led to an unhealthy inequality in dating and relationships. It has also fostered a tremendous amount of anger between men and women. First, women are still reacting from the historical anger of being unfairly treated for so long. Second, there exists a growing resentment of men towards women for their clear advantage in the social, dating and sexual spheres.
Both of these angers are real phenomenon in this current culture. One is historical, and nowhere close to resolved (understandably). The other is contemporary, and will only get worse. This anger is palpable, and is a harbinger of worsening times, unless there is a movement of evolution PAST it.
You might be surprised to know that my proposed solution to this is not for women to ‘back-up’ and change. In fact, it seems to be that women have raised the bar for men, and we simply have not caught on and evolved in harmony with them. Truthfully, women often display more masculine traits in relationships simply because the men have forgotten how; lost in a haze of guilt and laziness, masculinity is a forgotten trait. I believe it will be up to men to resolve this extraordinary dilemma. But, more on that later.
Lets first begin with some numbers which support this thesis. Here’s a graph which reveals the shocking increase of the divorce rate since 1950.
(Source: U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services)
The first wave of feminism was in the late 19th and early 20th century. This successfully fought against male ownership of women and voting rights (amongst other things). Clearly, this work was invaluable and vitally important to fulfill the doctrines of this, and other, free-minded nations. But, it is in the second wave where we see the problem develop.
From the 1960′s to the early 1980′s, the second wave of feminism caught fire and spread here in the US, and then around the world. Betty Friedan’s classic, “The Feminine Mystique” was released and argued against the sexist power structures that existed (and still exist) in the workplace, politics and entertainment. One of the themes in this work is the idea that women are the victims of an identity crisis, which was forcing them to place their children and husbands in the center of their lives. Friedan felt that it was wrong for women to lose their ‘self’ in this structure, and that it was time to fight back. It is at this time that the divorce rate began to dramatically increase (Figure 1).
“The Feminine Mystique”, amongst other things, led to the birth of the phrase “Women’s Liberation” (1964), “Bra Burning” etc. The rub though seems to be in the interpretation of gender roles and biology.
Some feel that gender roles are purely a result of social conditioning while others feel that there are biological implications within them. Based on your individual opinion of this question, you will likely view a woman’s role in a RELATIONSHIP very differently.
Here’s my opinion. There truly are legitimate and verifiable biological implications within the sexes that shape a relationship. In fact, in the healthy relationships I see (which are rare), these biological factors are mostly honored and the true nature of both genders is magnified and enhanced by the other leading to a stronger connection, a greater sense of acceptance and a more natural (less-forced) intimacy between the pair.
The issue is that the assertiveness honed within the feminist movement is often at odds with this biological truth between men and women. Men have become more passive in their relationships, and the women have filled this assertiveness gap by taking charge.
And, to further get this biological truth, lets look at some of the most primal dynamics within male/female interaction, the act of sexual union.
Biologically, what happens? The male asserts himself – quite literally – INTO the woman, who receives him. Regardless of the position or pose, it must happen this way…this is undeniable.
Traditionally, the male was the one to seek and hunt for food, to protect the home and to direct the family’s course through the challenging world. The female was the one to nourish the family, care for the children and home and inspire and support the man. Even though the lifestyle illustrated is antiquated, the biological truth remains.
In other words, a man – by nature – is the assertive/directing/focused one; the female – by nature – is the receptive/nourishing/radiant one. There are clearly differing scales and levels between individuals, but in general, this is true.
David Deida, in his seminal work “The Way of the Superior Man“, describes the difference very well:
“The ‘mission’ or the search for freedom is the priority of the masculine, whereas the search for love is the priority of the feminine. This is why people with masculine essences would rather watch a football game or boxing match on TV than a love story. Sports are all about achieving freedom, such as by breaking free of your opponent’s tackle or barrage of punches, and about succeeding at your mission, by carrying the ball into the end zone or remaining standing after 10 rounds. For the masculine, mission, competition, and putting it all on the line (indeed, facing death), are all forms of ecstasy. Witness the masculine popularity of war stories, dangerous heroism, and sports playoffs.
But, for the feminine, the search for love touches the core. Whether in soap operas, in love stories, or talking with friends about relationships, the desire for love is what appears in feminine forms of entertainment. The feminine wants to be filled with love, and if the bliss of real love is not forthcoming, chocolate and ice cream – or a good romantic drama – will do. The masculine wants to feel the bliss of life lived at the edge, and if he doesn’t have the balls to do it himself, he’ll watch it on TV, in sporting events and cop shows.”
David Deida boils the question down to its spiritual essence as two differing forces. The quest for freedom (male) and the quest for love (female).
Over the years, this biological truth has been more and more distorted for a “socially acceptable” one which is the result of an unfair cultural system which needed revising. Women certainly deserve a fair shake in business. They absolutely need voting rights, and equality under the law. But, how does this profound socio-cultural shift impact social dynamics, relationships and family life? How has it reshaped the mating dance between men and women? What results can we see from this movement between men and women?
Women have become the dominant sex in the social, dating and sexual spheres. They are pursued and are the ones who choose their mates. They are often the dominant one in the relationship, and are often the one who determines the course of the family. Men, on the other hand, have become more and more meek and passive. A man must pursue a woman in order to date her. He must ‘ask her out’, for example. The man is also usually in the back seat when it comes to the decisions of the family, going along for the ride – more a passenger, than a driver. Sexually, it is usually the male seeking more sex and the female controlling the keys to the kingdom.
These generalities are so obvious to most that these themes are played out on nightly television and movies. This has become the new stereotype. The natural, biological polarity has become distorted. Thus, we see the divorce rate skyrocket in the last 40 years, most pre-marriage couples not surviving and we frighteningly see the outbreak of disastrous and angry male subcultures.
Contemporary relationships which survive often involve the man assuming a passive, accepting role and the woman assuming the more dominant one. The male, with few to zero female options in his life, must make this relationship work in order to fulfill his biological need for reproduction and the social demand to be married and grow a family. This is not to say that these biologically imbalanced relationships do not contain love and communion, but the polarity is profoundly distorted leading to a marginal happiness and intimacy. It leads to meeker men, and hardened women.
As a case study, lets look at Barbara and Joseph (names changed to protect this couple’s identity). Barbara is a hard-driving corporate executive. She is known as a ball-breaker, and is very successful at what she does. Joseph is the former CFO of a large internet startup which went bust a few years ago. He has since been hired as a consultant at a major investment bank and does fairly well. Barbara is the primary breadwinner and Joseph definitely contributes a lot financially to the family too. Barbara is very active in women’s issues, and speaks/presents at women’s conferences all around the world. When she does this, Joseph stays home and watches the 3 children and holds down the base camp.
She is much more successful that he is, which is not necessarily a problem. On the surface, it seems fine to have the woman as the primary breadwinner. In fact, it IS fine. BUT, these two individuals lack the grace and intelligence to handle it. The consequences are that both complain endlessly about the other. They fight often. Barbara comes to work angry at her husband. Joseph feels misunderstood and disrespected.
When they met, Joseph was a charismatic graduate student at Harvard while Barbara was pursuing her undergraduate degree in business. Joseph was clear on what he wanted to do in life, which was to be a very successful businessman – he was focussed. Barbara was attracted by this focus and determination. Meanwhile, Barbara was also pursuing a career in business, and radiated a clear, feminine beauty of openness and warmth. In the insuing years though, subtly and imperceptibly, their roles changed. Joseph got cozy in the relationship and began to bask in the stability and comfort of it. Barbara became very involved in women’s issues, her own business and the lives of her kids. In fact, she has said on more than one occasion “If it weren’t for my 3 kids, I would leave him for a younger man!”
Barbara is the more masculine of the two, and Joseph the more feminine. It didn’t used to be that way. The original polarity of attraction has been lost and replaced with resentment. Now, the couple gripes and complains about the other on a daily basis. In fact, many couples are this way. We must ask ourselves, is this the best we can do?
Another case study invites us into the lives of Daniel and Jennifer. Daniel owns his own marketing business while Jennifer just graduated college and is looking for a job at a not-for-profit. They are a younger couple and want someday to get married. Daniel, over the course of a year though, lost his focus. He slowly became disinterested in his business and lost the elegance that true mission-based focus can give. Instead, he dropped into ‘survival’ mode, and found himself chasing just enough money per month to live on. Jennifer though discovered her purpose and began to pursue it with passion. The polarity of their relationship shifted. Slowly, Daniel began to give his power away…more and more. Instead of his purpose and mission ‘feeding’ him, he began to seek that food from Jennifer and the relationship. Sensing this, Jennifer began to pull away and eventually broke up with Daniel.
Here we see the abandonment of the masculine mission by Daniel, and Jennifer assuming that posture. Again, this is a fine dynamic, but not if the primal, biological polarity is the reverse. Instead of evolving then, this relationship began to devolve into something easier, less elegant and lazy.
The final case study for this thesis is between Roy and Jodi. Roy and Jodi have been together for over 10 years, and are easily the most healthy couple I have ever witnessed. She is one of the strongest women I know, fully devoted to Roy, her job and her two kids. Roy runs a studio in Manhattan and is likewise fully devoted to Jodi and the family. She is the quintessential Shakti, and pours her feminine essence into her life unafraid of her emotions and honest living. He is centered, stable and balanced; rarely losing his cool and a man on a mission. His love is music, and he has found numerous outlets for that in theater and acoustic solo composition. Sure, they argue and fight from time-to-time. But, the feeling between the two is of love – always.
Here we see a man on a mission, focused always in its direction who ALSO loves and nurtures his wife and family. She powerfully radiates feminine energy, raising the children while also pursuing her mission too, to be an actor. But, Roy is the ground of the relationship, the earth while Jodi is the flower. He is the secure and stable ground while she is the radiant element of change. They complement each other while encouraging the growth and fulfillment of the other’s essence. The key here is that the relationship is in constant evolution and the polarity which initially attracted the other is magnified now 10 years later given the proper alignment within each to their biological roles and to the relationship.
This is an example of two individuals coming together in a proper polarity, and that being magnified over time given their devotion to themselves and the relationship in a healthy way. She is certainly not repressed, and he is absolutely not in denial of his nature.
Based on these three case studies, we can now elaborate this thesis even further: 2 individuals come together due to a certain polarity. We could call that “attraction”. As long as that polarity sustains and evolves, the relationship will survive. However, the facts do not support this. Why is the divorce rate RISING? Here’s why:
Men are behind women in their own evolution. The male gender has lost its way. We have shifted towards a passive, less driven and focused gender. We are often guilt-ridden, filled with sexual shame and anger and feel powerless when it comes to dating and relationships.
The result is a social power shift away from what could ideally be 50/50 into something more properly labeled as 20/80…to the advantage of women. When a man and a woman come together nowadays, we often have a polarity which wanes over time given the male’s lack of elegance and devotion to his aim in life. The collective guilt that has risen in men over the years prevents him from asserting himself in a proper way. He feels powerless and shattered. The result is a dangerous anger.
Women look at men more and more as the weaker sex. They often complain about their man, or about men in general. Woman also have their share of challenges in dating and relationships, but it is hard to argue that the woman’s challenge is greater than a man’s. Men must pursue, risk rejection, arrange and pay for the initial dates all in hopes that “she will like me” forgetting his own criteria and selection mechanism. The average guy is never pursued or desired, and feels that he must “get lucky” for anything to happen sexually for himself. He unhealthily suppresses his sexual desires, considering it bad or dirty, and wraps it in shame and embarrassment. He is often taught from an early age that his gender is responsible for most of the world’s problems, which coats him with a nice shade of guilt for which he often has no explanation for, nor a consciousness of. Men have forgotten how to access their own values and wants, and typically accept whatever woman makes herself available to him. His social life is immature and undeveloped, and he has no idea how to meet the right kinds of women for himself in a healthy manner. In fact, most men, being so grossly undeveloped, have no idea what sort of woman would be right for him; instead, they indulge a rich fantasy life which is based in a massively distorted ego which protects him from both accepting his lack of development, and from accepting that the Sports Illustrated models, or the club “hotties”, or the beautiful girl at work, might, just might, not be right for him. When he walks into a social environment, he is barely noticed unless he pulls off a stunt, dresses wildly, or is the guest of honor. Meanwhile, an attractive female enters the room, and she is instantly prized and becomes the unfortunate target of many of these unhealthy men. Most men feel disenfranchised, powerless, clueless and directionless. And most, though they may not admit it or even be aware of it, are really really really really pissed off.
The solution to this dilemma has absolutely nothing to do with women. We can not and should not ask them to change. Rather, what men must do – and I say must for a reason – they must rediscover their own power. The plague is powerlessness, and we must find the true, natural source of our masculine power while shedding the culturally distorted and socially stifling view of men in this day and age. This has nothing to do with marching into the woods with a club or hammer and “taking what is mine”. This has nothing to do with the massively confused concept of the “alpha male”. This only has to do with rebuilding a masculinity which both works for our time and our women, but that absolutely serves and empowers the disenfranchised male from the inside-out.
Women have raised the bar, and it is now up to us to meet them, or (dare I say) even surpass them in their development and evolution. This will be extremely difficult. Men are cloaked with an ancient pride which forbids the admission that “I need help”. This is the initial hurdle that we, as a gender, must cross. Many have made a half-admission already. We see the growing Pick-Up and Seduction communities as a sample of many men who are seeking an answer. The problem is that these communities, of which I am intimately familiar, are in fact exacerbating the original problem.
They are asking men to depart from themselves and become another, someone “better”. This is the ultimate alienation, and one in harmony with our time and culture. The result is always a sickened individual who is completely out of touch with himself, he is massively uncomfortable and “dis-eased”. The distance created between who he, in fact, truly “is” and who he has now become, is expanded creating a psychic gulf of disturbance and confusion.
This movement is the angry, bitter reaction to the “Feminism Problem”. It makes sense that men, lazy and out of touch as we are, would try to fix this initially with their anger and seek a ‘quick fix’. It is an attack to the front, when the strategy should be more indirect, and to the side (so to speak). Men are baited into the community with promises of power and success, and often become even more disenfranchised and angry at their lack of success. Most, in fact, feel a secret alienation from their true selves when faced with a solution that asks them to perform gimmickry and present themselves in ways which fall far from their radar screens. Also, men know on a subconscious (or semi-conscious) level that these actions are objectifying women and it feels ‘good’ given the level of anger and bitterness each secretly feels within. The man’s anger subsequently increases, as does the woman’s. And now, we’ve only opened up a larger gulf between the sexes, creating more resentment and anger, increasing the distance from the destination.
Most “pick-up artists” will tell you it isn’t so, that what they are learning or teaching is male empowerment, and giving guys the ability to choose. I say that they are feeding men illusion and preying on their resentment of the “social situation” by promising results “now”. Nothing this grand and epidemic can be solved “now”. No, this will take many years to reverse. Perhaps a lifetime or two. And for the individual man, he is likely years away from satisfaction. The redirection and solution he seeks comes in a drop per day, his common resistance is massive, and he hasn’t the slightest clue where to begin.
At a recent conference in Los Angeles, I made the following statement which completely explains WHY the Pick-Up and Seduction community are only exacerbating this immense challenge:
“If meeting, dating or relating with women, and the improvement of this area in life, is your NUMBER 1 priority you are already screwed”
A man in harmony with himself is devoted to a mission or an aim which is larger than his relationship, or eventual success with any woman. The truth about men is that, in our natures, we seek to accomplish great things. In our greatest moments, we are driven by visions of understanding and meaning. Perhaps it is to help people, to serve an area of science or medicine, to accomplish great things in art, to fulfill a dream of traveling the globe. A mission, or aim, is the only thing which can effectively begin the transformation from the needy, contemporary male to an empowered, autonomous, authentic one.
Again, I refer to David Deida, to elaborate on this point:
“Every man knows that his highest purpose in life cannot be reduced to any particular relationship. If a man prioritizes his relationship over his highest purpose, he weakens himself, dissevers the universe, and cheats his woman of an authentic man who can offer her full, undivided presence.
“Admit to yourself that if you had to choose one or the other, the perfect intimate relationship or achieving your highest purpose in life, you would choose to succeed at your purpose. Just this self-knowledge often relieves much pressure a man feels to prioritize his relationship when, in fact, it is not his highest priority”
The problem most men currently experience is that the DO NOT know their purpose, mission, or aim. They were never even equipped with the skills to interpret this question within themselves. Also, culturally, we are constantly bombarded with images of women, and are judged based upon our abilities with women. We are laden with guilt and shame, and secretly feel that our masculine nature is ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’. Most men have NO self-esteem to even approach the question of aim or mission. Therefore, success with women becomes our number 1 priority. Our total internal disharmony prevents us from even seeing this, as it would shatter our already fragile ego completely. And yet, we display the number 1 characteristic of this sickness on a daily basis:
We Seek Validation From Women.
Only an aim or mission can truly validate a man. A woman cannot. She is the weather, the clouds, the ever-changing nature of the world. A man is the ground, the secure stable force to support this element of change. Making a woman the number 1 priority in my life is akin to trying to control the weather. It’s insane and destined for a tragic end. Years of failure with that would piss off any guy. The Pick-Up Community (with very few individual exceptions) is only replicating and expanding this problem. Those who teach it are typically more disturbed than the students, and yet are protected with small followings and devotees willing to go to the ends of the earth for the next innovation, the next answer, the next ‘fix’.
It is reinforcing the attainment of women as a number 1 priority. It is placing cement around this as an aim, and regularly reminding guys how “vital” it is to get this handled. And ultimately, it further distances ourselves from the goal of intimacy and connection by expanding the objectification of women. Healthy women laugh at Pick-Up Artists, as being “more of the same”. Unimpressed, they wander off fulfilling the masculine, assertive role in the gender wars of being focused, assertive and choosy. We, on the other hand, continue to chase our tail, growing only in neediness and anger, more unwilling than ever to face the truth.
A band-aid of gimmicks will not effectively resolve this problem. It can only be an elegant, sophisticated, grounded solution that will resolve our frozen adolescence and propel us forward. In part II of this article, I will outline this solution as I see it. It is not an overnight fix. In fact, for most men, it will be YEARS until a true transformation takes place. It will be slow, tedious and difficult. Ultimately, it will require a new open-mindedness and a willingness to be uncomfortable for long swaths of time. It is a new kind of danger. A danger to the ego, and to the self-image which protects from truly witnessing how small we are.
It begins with waking-up. Do I believe that I need this? Can I see that my dilemma is this large and this daunting? Do I appreciate the nature of this challenge? Or, do I prefer to huddle in my cave of delusion, angrily holding on to my bag of tricks, my tiny sack of self-esteem, and my distorted dreams of a grand tomorrow which have no actual destiny.
Think on these things and feel free to comment. Next week, I will open the discussion of the long road I see for our gender with four steps or phases which are the building blocks of a real, viable, lasting solution.