The wave was presaged for me in my college years. Meeting with friends, I had to ask what this t-shirt slogan meant:
A woman needs a man, like a fish needs a bicycle.
Growing up, I noticed at church gatherings that while all the men stood up to strut, the women went around quietly in the background and actually got things done. This was what they were allowed. Then in the seventies something snapped. That t-shirt was preceded by bra burnings.
The era of gender turmoil could be abusive. My college dormie warned me that if I didn’t hold the door open for his mother, she would call me rude, and if I did she’d call me condescending.
In Genesis, it is said that a man will go live with his woman because they “become one flesh.” When I came into my spirituality in my 40s, I began to realize how much of what goes on in the business world has to do with the woman at home. They build their men up in spiritual armor and send him out in the world to rape and pillage. They don’t see it that way – they see it as protecting their man. But when their man needs protection because he rapes and pillages, that distinction is moot.
Among the counsel that I received when I was going through my divorce, two things stood out. The first was to be warned that ethically I was way outside of the norm, and the court system would have no clue how to respond to me. The second was that I had married somebody from a culture that was far less sophisticated than ours, and that I should be more selective in the future.
Unfortunately, that was followed by a dream in which an elder showed up to announce that I was a “nation of one.”
Understanding that the cabal of homemakers wants a peer to negotiate with, I’ve spent most of the last twenty years studying feminine virtue, trying to figure out how to call it out of hiding. In his song “Winterwood,” Don McLean gave voice to my inspiration:
No time can pass your sight unseen,
No moment steals away unfound.
A lifetime lived in such a dream,
Floats like a feather to the ground.
A woman has the power to guide her man around conflict, not push him into it.
And of course the feminist would complain that women have their own gifts to express. That’s true, and I become frustrated when the dynamic among people is dominated by sex. Talent doesn’t reveal itself in those circumstances.
If this has been confusing, well, that’s how gender politics has been in America for the last forty years. Everybody has to figure out their own path.
I have been as frustrated as anyone else. A friend at work yesterday counseled me to look at Japanese or French women – ladies that “grant their men their space.” I affirmed that capacity, but observed that it was an outgrowth of their need to submit to male-dominated societies. When I was in my teens, my mother told me that I should find a Geisha to marry. There is an attraction there.
The other path is the Muslim or Orthodox path, where women veil themselves and lead a separate existence. I’ve seen amazing beauty in such woman, but they are often brittle.
The American experiment is chaotic and often ugly, but it’s worth supporting. If I’m ever going to be in a relationship again, it will be with a woman that has chosen to exit the game, allowed men to celebrate her without possessing her, and come back looking to figure out how to join her virtues to a man’s.