now, only women can fix this mess – #MeToo
One-hundred-and-fifty years ago Charles Darwin told us that it takes ‘two to tango’ – not his phrasing, he called it ‘sexual selection’ – and yet the domineering males of our species have always subjugated the physically smaller females; thus, creating a world built on the half-leadership of men versus on the full, equal leadership of men and women. Key word, equal. Because women, in many ways, have contributed more than men to the world we have today but they just haven’t had the benefit, and power, of leadership positions. And the human race is less for it.
Across history, our patriarchal societies have relegated women to a lesser status, thereby, creating a lesser civilization. Despite centuries of women fighting for their rights, only in the last few years has #MeToo become strong enough to get men’s public attention.
But it’s not enough attention. Sure, men offer plenty of rhetoric, some sporadic action and, from a few, participation but they really aren’t lining up to support female leadership. This is going to take a much bigger push from women, in every career, every home, every bedroom. Needless to say, we have a long way to go baby (see New York Times article, The Allegation Is Against Joe Biden, but the Burden Is on Women).
“Man still bears, in his bodily frame, the indelible stamp of his lowly origins.” – Charles Darwin
Men don’t get it. It’s not in their nature. Darwin got it. He said, “Man delights in competition, and this leads to ambition which passes too easily into selfishness.” Exhibit #1 is someone like Donald Trump. But women everywhere live with the incapable nature of men and their self-centered drive to compete and dominate, especially over women. The only good thing about Trump is that he has increased our awareness of men’s short-comings and the “indelible stamp of his lowly origins.”
Stronger together – the opportunity
Over millennia, ensconced in their positions of power, men have had a major advantage over women and are not about to give that up. #MeToo is perceived by men as a threat and, as a group, they are intractable and will not accede power to women. But if women could work more on the insular, male group-think and do it more from a one-on-one position, from the inside, then maybe there might be an opportunity to advance the #MeToo movement.
A man, on his own, one-on-one with a woman, is a different kind of animal, so to speak (Darwin defined this part of his biology too). When partnering with a loving female, a different function of his genetic origin is involved and he’s against other men rather than with them. In love, sex and marriage, a man is anchored in the ‘we’ of the partnership versus the ‘we’ of the male herd and he is competitively wired to oppose and fight other men to protect his woman and the partnership.
For men there is meaning, purpose and power in the partnership, in the “we.” Therein lies a big opportunity. Women have, and can leverage, the power of a loving relationship to overcome the inherent male bias toward misogynistic and sexist behavior.
Achieving women’s equality needs to be anchored in loving, respectful, heterosexual relationships. Because changing male group-think starts with building on each man’s “self-think” and “we-think.” When a man’s partnership with a woman is on a respectful, equal footing there is a much better chance of changing his group-think. If his mindset isn’t right at “home,” it isn’t going to be right “out there.”
Of course, #MeToo is formidable and growing, pushing men, as a group, to change, but there will always be limitations on how much behavioral change can be achieved by a public campaign that pushes the collective male herd. They’re imbued with centuries of intransigence. However, there is potential to enhance #MeToo with the addition of an inside strategy aimed at winning over one-man-at-a-time, across the #MeToo spectrum. That strategy is: #WeTwo.
There is a nexus of #MeToo and #WeTwo, and all loving, respectful couples stand at that intersection, inextricably connected, and capable of advancing change for women, together.
“At the first beginning a woman was made to be a helper unto man.” – Moses
There are two lessons in history that apply. One: Men haven’t, won’t and can’t solve the problem of misogyny and sexism. Two: Less powerful groups can beat more powerful ones, guerilla warfare works and armadas can be defeated. Women can win.
Recognizing that the evolution of our species started long before Moses ignorantly claimed, “At the first beginning a woman was made to be a helper unto man,” we should go back the the real beginning and focus on man’s “indelible stamp,” and consider how we can get them to adapt.
A Sisyphus push-strategy to change men is an uphill battle, but by adding a pull-strategy, getting men to help in their own adaptation, could significantly accelerate progress. It’s not one or the other, it’s both. #MeToo + #WeTwo.
What if women were to open up a ‘second front’ in the equality wars (apologies for all the macho, war terminology), and engage men in more one-on-one, hand-to-hand combat, in a place where the playing field can be level. Because when women go one-on-one with a man – any man – they can succeed. And if a woman engages a man up-close-and-personal, she can get him to understanding – visceral understanding – of her most fundamental needs and strengthens. He might also increase recognition of his own needs for her – and women everywhere. This is where the battle against misogyny can be won.
Hear me out.
#MeToo can strengthen and grow by expanding to include #WeTwo
Make love not war – or both
Women are capable of both love and war. Men are much better at the latter than the former. Charles Darwin told us, “Man is the rival of other men, he delights in the competition, and this leads to ambition which passes too easily into selfishness.” Therein lies the opportunity.
With #MeToo, women should continue to challenge the male hegemony but, in parallel, they can do more to help men adapt their genetic constitution from waging war against modern women to learning how to wage love.
Don’t get me wrong. Men can love, do love, need to love, and need to be loved. They’re just not that good at it. They love women, they really do, but they are not very capable of truly loving, respecting and meeting a woman’s needs – fulfilling her need for love, respect and independence. Many want to, they just don’t know how. Most need help – a woman’s help. A strong woman. And loving is a woman’s “indelible stamp,” her powerful genetic gift (#powherful), designed to balance the male-female relationship. It’s where her unique leadership traits reside and it is where she can begin to lead her man on a more enlightened path to equality.
A woman and a man in love can accomplish damn near anything, together. If they’re equally respectful of each other and committed to building a relationship on their altruistic genes, not the selfish genes, then there’s not much they can’t do. So instead of #MeToo alone, why not #MeToo plus #WeTwo?
#WeTwo is the two of you, a loving, respectful heterosexual partnership. Stronger together!
Imagine the potential
Currently, too many relationships are not in the best of places, there’s plenty of room for growth.
- Between 40-50% of marriages end in divorce.
- Only 49% of women are satisfied with their sex lives.
- Only 51% of men are satisfied with their sex lives.
- 46% of women would rather get a good-night’s sleep than have sex.
If almost half of the men and women in heterosexual partnerships get divorced and are not satisfied in their sex lives, then it’s obvious there’s a mountain of misunderstanding. If men misunderstand women, they will never accept them and if they don’t accept them, they won’t respect them. And misogyny and sexism will prevail, unrelentingly.
The numbers don’t lie. Love and partnerships are fragile ships and half of them “sink.” But half don’t. Primarily because they’re anchored in love. That’s where the fight for equality, respect and understanding should begin.
All women in a loving relationship have an opportunity to make a dent in the male universe and greatly expand the universal love of women.
When women are in an unfulfilling partnership, they often lose respect for themselves and the men lose respect for them. And yet, the love and respect between equal partners, in tens-of-millions of couples, is critical in getting men to understand the deep needs – emotional and practical – of women. Which is at the heart of #MeToo. And that is connected to the two hearts in each and every partnership, where understanding begins, an understanding initiated by the woman because only a few men can, or will, do it. The burden is on the women.
Remember, half the men are not satisfied with their sex lives, which creates an enormous bias in their perspective of women. It goes to the essence of their being. Darwin would say, “Ignore it at your peril” (or something like that). Of course, this dissatisfaction is also an opportunity. Perhaps, the way to a man’s increased understanding of women could be through the bedroom – or other crucibles of love, romance and sex?
What’s more imperative and essential to a loving couple than a healthy, fulfilling, equal, honest, open, respectful, trusting love and sex life? Nothing. It’s a reservoir of potential that, quite frankly, most of us are not very good at tapping into, fostering and growing. That’s a shame, and, again, a potential.
The goal is clear: How to wage love
The purpose of #MeToo is to create a better world for women – significantly better – thereby creating a better world for everyone. We have a foothold but it’s critical that women do not rest on the unspoken but palpable assumption – perpetrated by male group-think – that ‘you’ve come a long way baby’ and it’s time to relax and accept your ‘new and improved’ position in the modern world. That’s what the group-think is.
Most men and women don’t know near as much as they could, and should, about love, about gender differences, gender respect and how to foster a deep, loving relationship and, literally, make love – everyone knows how to make sex, but that’s not love. Indeed, not being steeped in the art and science of love is disrespectful and denigrating your love partner. And when 65% of women do not have an orgasm during sex and the man doesn’t know (“fake, fake, fake”), there’s a dearth of respect for love – by both partners.
It might sound too basic, but it is axiomatic. A lack of respect for a woman’s needs in love and sex is a lack of respect for women. Ergo, a lack of respect for #MeToo. If we connect the power of #MeToo with the power of #WeTwo, through our mutual needs in love and sex, then perhaps we can strengthen the love and respect a man develops for #MeToo.
Any equal, healthy relationship requires understanding of the complex needs of each partner and that understanding is the cornerstone in #WeTwo – stronger together. If loving couples can better practice equality in love and sex then that can translate into understanding the equality imperative in the entire relationship, and in all relationships – in #MeToo.
Read book review of Down Girl: The Logistics of Misogyny >>
Kate Manne takes on the misogyny of Jordan Peterson. Read two articles and listen to podcast >>
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