The courage to confront: women cannot hear what men do not say
Have we been misled by feminists? Yes. Is it feminists’ fault? No. Why not? Men have not spoken up. Simply stated, women cannot hear what men do not say. Now men must take responsibility to say what they want – to turn a war in which only one side shows up into a dialogue in which both sexes speak up.
I am often astonished at how men collude in turning relationship issues into women’s Issues. When a book like The Myth of Male lnver arrives in a newsroom, male journalists often reflexively say, “This is for Mary over at the Family Page – she specializes in women’s issues.” It is time for men to take responsibility to end the era of relationship-issues-as-women’s-issues.
ljooking at relationships as if women were the center is like looking at the solar system as if Earth were in the center. But as Galileo discovered, only half the job is in the discovery; the other half is in the courage to present the findings. Most men are still invested in getting women’s love by protecting women. And many women are still invested in receiving the special protection we accord the victim.
Adjusting our relationship assumptions almost always rubs like sandpaper on our psyches. But just as the key to real estate is “location, location, location,” the key to relationships is "listen, listen, listen." How well we listen to men will determine whether the result is a civil dialogue or a civil war.
If women listen in the future better than men did in the past, men will not need to speak for a quarter of a century; if women withdraw emotionally, interrupt with "yes, buts," respond with personal accusations ("You must hate women"), or tell men. I’m receptive, you just chose the wrong time to speak,” men will clam up and it will take more than a quarter of a century for
them to gain an equal hearing. It never feels like the right time to listen to what we might be afraid to hear (it always feels like sandpaper on our psyches).
Women have contributed a tone. Men must contribute theirs before we are ready for a synthesis.