A message to men. .. mostly
It will be tempting to discuss this book with a feminist because that’s probably the person you know who’s most interested in sex roles. But this is like a man bringing a book that questions the Bible to a born-again Christian because that’s the person you know who’s most interested in religion. The person who studies their Bible daily is the least likely to question their Bible
If your family" has many feminists, you will have to confront yourself about the degree to which you need their approval. This book will put you in touch with a lot of new feelings. You will have to be secure enough to handle the possibility that perhaps it wasn’t your feeling that were desired but rather your agreement
Stan a suppon group of other men with whom you can explore these feelings.* As men, we tend to place all our emotional eggs in the basket of the woman we love and then become fearful of saying anything that might crack those eggs. A group allows an alternate source of emotional suppon. And a place to son out feelings worth discussing before you say what you later wish you hadn’t.
Exactly what do men discover when they share their feelings with other men? Here’s an example. In the past few years, I have asked more than 10,000 American and Canadian men from all walks of life if they would prefer to take off work for six months to a year after each child was bom to be involved with the child full time. More than 80 percent of the men said that full time involvement uith their children would be their preference – but only if their wives approved and they weren’t huning their families economically. (About 17 percent of the men prefer pan-time involvement; about 3 percent prefer to remain working full time.)
But notice that the men 1 surveyed had to have this question asked of them. And even then, many felt inhibited about raising their hands. As men express feelings with other men, they begin to ask questions like this of themselves. They are shocked to discover that so many of them want something for which they have never asked. Which stimulates them to wonder why they never asked.
Why? Unconsciously, men feel it is a waste to be in touch with feelings because, well, "If I tell my wife 1 want to take off from work to care for the children while she pays the bills, it would just create an argument, Г11 lose, and she’ll withdraw; so what’s the use?" Why was the "courageous sex" so afraid of their wives’ withdrawal? Exactly because all their emotional eggs were invested in one basket – a problem a support group helps solve.
This book will create growth. But growth is a personal challenge. It can be in conflict with love – a relationship challenge. Your next challenge is getting the women you love to feel receptive to your genuine feelings. The trick is in learning to grow without turning those who love us into the enemy. Start by reading to her excerpts from this book that reflea the values you both share. (Don’t introduce The Myth of Male Power to a woman by saying, "You need to read this.") Be sure your tone reflects your understanding that almost everything in this book will ultimately empower her and deepen your love.
•See Pan III of my The Liberated Man (New York, Berkley, 1993 edition).