Let’s Hear It From the Guys!

Over on Blog Sisters, lots of posts telling stories about the abuse of women by men and the systems they control, from personal stories to newspaper accounts. And it is not just the women whose hearts and souls are forever damaged; the children of those families have to struggle with psychological wounds for the rest of their lives.
These are disturbing stories, but stories that need to be told and heard. In his book If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him, Sheldon Kopp has a section likening the story telling that goes on in the Canterbury Tales to the kind of story-sharing that we all need to do as fellow pilgrims on our journey through Iife. Like Chaucer

15 thoughts on “Let’s Hear It From the Guys!

  1. Sometimes what emerges is more relevant and eloquent than what one expects or hopes for. As for my expectations — I guess I’m just wondering if it’s because of nature or nurture that men don’t seem inclined to engage in the kinds of personal conversations that many women seem to generate among themselves as a way of helping each other work through their “dramas.”

  2. ‘I know you’d rather talk instead about the things inside your head
    Everything that i’ve ever heard
    tells me you just don’t have the words
    cause you’ve never learned to speak the language of life. Here you are a grown man that can’t talk to his wife. Children you don’t understand. You think you’ve come pretty far.
    You’ve still got the job, the house and the car.
    There’s one thing, one thing, that you’ll never get. A grip on life’s sweet alphabet.’ Everything But the Girl
    The ‘truth’ is both genders have a lot of ‘evolving’ to do. A lot of us are caught in self-destructive patterns. And the world is opposed to any ‘search’ of this kind.
    I’d love to say more–but there’s a game coming on.
    Thanks for the plug.

  3. Probably nurture.
    Think about it.
    How are men given permission to be “victims” in a relationship? The answer is, they aren’t. If they are, it means they’re weak and unmanly. While it’s never fun to be a victim, it is a role society allows women to embrace, and it creates a safe space for them to do so.
    Sometimes, if they can find it.
    But the important thing that you briefly mentioned is the “working through” part, and I don’t know how often that happens for either men or women. At least in time for it to make some difference in the quality of their life. I think we ultimately work through it when we confront death. Then the illusions of the narrative fall away, I think.
    But I think both genders are fooled by the illusions of their narratives. Men believe they can’t tell their story if they aren’t the hero (the stereotypical hero, as opposed to an archetype that applies to each gender). No man wants to perceive himself as the villain, and most men don’t want to be the victim. So they try to shoehorn their experience into the hero, the strong, silent type.
    Doesn’t work well. Doesn’t work at all.
    But both genders get trapped by their narratives.

  4. Dave, there’s a lot you said that I don’t agree with. No one should be ‘given permission to be a victim’ and if society is giving women a safe place to do that, society is very, very, wrong, and many of us are trying to change that. Of course, we work through stuff all of the time, or at least we have the ability to if we are open to sharing our stories and internalizing the responses of our audiences. Our narratives are not illusions; they are our personal myths, to be deciphered, analyzed, and learned from just as all myths are intended to be. One of the great things about telling your story as a personal myth is that you can make your “hero” persona anything you want. You can choose another archetype or invent a new one for yourself. Feminist spirituality has given women the tools to do that for their gender. Hence, the ‘Crone.’ Robert Bly and Robert A. Johnson tried to give men the same tools. Johnson’s book, ‘He’ is well worth looking at as an example.

  5. Your idea of a male oriented group blog (that is what you are proposing is it not?) is interesting but I don’t know that I would participate; not because I have problems as a man communicating with other males but for reasons I think I blogged about in regards to Blogsisters some time back – I don’t want to belong to a club that excludes anybody.
    Still, if some(male)body was to start the XY counterpart to Blogsisters, I can’t say for sure that I would not participate. Until then, however, anybody who visits my blog will get a glimpse into this male’s heart, mind and various squishy bits.

  6. “No one should be ‘given permission to be a victim’ and if society is giving women a safe place to do that, society is very, very, wrong, and many of us are trying to change that.”
    Name a battered men’s shelter.
    I’m not sure you really want to have society withhold permission to be a victim.
    There’s nothing wrong with being a victim, things do happen to people that make them victims. It becomes “wrong” when the victim can’t get past that role. For a period of time it is important that victims be recognized as victims, so they can get the assistance they require to get them to a place of safety and so they can begin to recover.
    I don’t care if you’re a victim of an automobile accident, a rape, a substance addiction or an abusive relationship, that role can help you get help. That’s its purpose, and it’s a good thing. For a limited time. How much time that is, I don’t know.
    “Our narratives are not illusions; they are our personal myths, to be deciphered, analyzed, and learned from just as all myths are intended to be.”
    Myth or illusion, the point remains the same, when they are taken literally, as personal narrative often is, one substitutes a creation of one’s own mind for “reality.” This goes a little beyond mere perception, to a belief system constructed out of narrative where individuals of certain groups are all fitted with a role consistent with one’s narrative. This happens everywhere in many different contexts, it’s not limited to male-female relationship issues. It’s a type of prejudice, but one that has its origin in personal experience more so than learned behavior.
    You are correct that they are a rich source of personal insight when they are examined for that purpose, but many people don’t examine them because they’ve become habituated, accustomed, conditioned and comfortable in their role in their narrative. That’s the trap.
    There’s more here to discuss, but I’m out of time!

  7. Just a quick return before I get ready to dash out the door – Please imagine I’m smiling at you when you read all of my comments above, because I’m smiling as I write them, and not in an “evil-grin” kind of way either. ;^)
    I’m enjoying this, and I just re-read my comments and I wonder if I come off sounding argumentative. I hope not.
    Now, I’ve got to go…

  8. Dave, no more argumentative than I sound. I think we both “work through” our opinions and perspectives the same way, stating what we honestly believe/feel and staying open to being influenced by the honest statements of others.
    Richard, yes, I remember your telling me that you prefer to engage in conversations that are not segregated. I mentioned you because you are very open in your own blog, and therefore would make a great participant in a conversation among males about their gender-related perspectives on certain issues.

  9. A month or so ago we were yakking about [gender]ism. That seemed appropriate for a gender segregated discussion. But in the end, for me, so much to do, so many focal points, such a deep conversation fraught with the need for personal revelation and when I shared a leetle truth, just a skosh, no more than a tidbit, in the comments at Bb’s place I pissed her off so bad that she took me off her blogroll for a while. And I was just starting to scratch the surface. I’m thinking that my personal revelatory stuff belongs in my personal publishing space, and others are welcome to reflect on it through the comments.
    A benefit of that is that I retain a measure of control and can pull a post when I want to, and if there is ever anything worth saving… well, I’ve got it right there on my hard drive.
    A friend of mine is led to a strong involvement in battered women’s services. Another friend is irritated because of the lack of gender equity in that field. Why should there be grants for women’s shelters and not for men’s? We’ve pretty much had this conversation in real time, and for me the answer always comes back to the spousal abuse statistics on Sunday evenings following a home team football loss and a 12 pack of beer. Just one perspective, I know.

  10. Equity doesn’t necessarily mean having the same number of shelters for battered men. First men have to admit that they need support and help with whatever it is they need support and help with. For example, perhaps men are battered more psychologically than physically. I don’t know if that’s the case; I’m just supposing here. Maybe society tends to turn men’s pain into a joke. Just think about all the cartoons about henpecked husbands. Maybe men should get mad about that. But first they’d have to admit that they’ve been victimized, and I wonder how many would be willing to do that.

  11. I think abuse of males is a lot subtler than the sheer physical abuse by stronger dominant partners that adult females suffer. I also think that whether male or female, the capacity for abuse and the way one will endure it are engendered (cool word) by childhood experience.
    We big headed primates retain a lot of the behaviors that are DNA coded in our mammal relatives, behaviors such as posturing to win mates and scare away threatening outsiders. And overcoming that behavior by understanding it and acting through and sometimes contrary to what seems to come naturally may be part of an answer to the question… what question? only I know and I’m not telling…8^) Seriously, it’s a deep subject and the threads of conversation can be woven many ways here.

  12. Yup, it’s a struggle to move beyond our reptilian brains, our ancient flight-fight-fuck souls. But isn’t that what our human journeys are all about — climbing toward our personal bests? (Unless you’re RageBoy, of course.)

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