I am preparing to go public with a piece that I’ve written. And it is with some trepidation. This would not be the first time I’ve ventured to share some of my thoughts about the relationship between men and women. And some of my previous experience has been bruising.
My brother is a psychotherapist who works in that domain, and he’s told me that my experience reflects what a minefield that area is in today’s society. A minefield especially in a segment of today’s society that is processing the whole long-buried horror of the sexual abuse of women by men.
So I stepped into that minefield, and found that it was possible to give offense where none was remotely intended.
(I recall a bit of that minefield when a woman took huge offense at my using the famous line from the syllogism, “All men are mortal.” It was a piece about the challenge of facing one’s mortality, but this woman mistook my using what the old culture has handed down to us for being an attempt to perpetuate leaving womankind out of the picture when we speak of humankind.)
It’s understandable why this area might be a minefield. There are some very painful places that might get inadvertently touched.
The #MeToo movement is testimony to all the deep human pain that resides on the female side of our society – pain caused by men doing things to women sexually that are hurtful to those women. I’ve always been on women’s side when it came to such matters, but I never before this recent time of women coming forward and telling their stories have I understood the depth of the trauma involved.
So I get that, and I’m totally with the women and their right to be treated as of their sexuality belonged to themselves and not to men who take a sexual interest in them.
So, minefield or not, I would like for it to be understood that whatever I say is in no way to be taken as contradictory to that fundamental human right of women, and of a proper respect for the meaning of sexuality in our being.
(And that points to all the other ways in which women have been subordinated and exploited.)
Which brings me to a second thing about me that should blunt the impulse to take offense at something I might say.
The most nourishing project I’ve done in this politically dangerous time bore the name, “The Sacred Space of Lovers.”(Op/ed version here . Longer version here .)
There I describe an ideal of what the relationship between lovers should be, and I say that it is there that we human beings can have one of our most fulfilling experiences of the sacred.
I argue, thinking in an evolutionary framework, as has long been my wont, that it is vitally important that the relationship between those who produce the next generation embody as much as possible that ideal —for their own fulfillment in life, and for the good of the next generation they create together.
That kind of evolutionary thinking has been at the core of my life’s work. My goal has been to find and speak the truth about the human story in ways that might help things move in a good direction. Please understand that has been my goal and, if my efforts to articulate what looks true to me rub anyone the wrong way, forgive me my trespasses.
So for a goodly while, I followed my brother’s advice to stay out of that minefield—not talk about things that are so charged and so easily triggered. Thinking that his words were wise, I kept choosing to keep my thoughts to myself about that core human matter: the relationship between men and women.
But then, eventually, I had something I really wanted to say. It offers a way of seeing why it is that, in our human world, men often inflict sexual pain on women— why that relationship sometimes has so frequently taken things in the direction of brokenness, and not the wholeness of “The Sacred Space of Lovers.”
The thoughts it offers about the “Roots” of our problems are not a complete answer. But it’s two big pieces of an answer. At least so it seems to me.
In invite you to try it out, on that basis, if you’re interested. That piece – titled “The Roots of the Problems Between Men and Women,”
can be found here.