Many people have a bitterness towards the opposite sex because of previous relationship wounds or heartbreak that create harmful conclusions or false generalizations across genders. An honest friendship with individuals from the opposite sex can heal this. With International Women's Day right around the corner and a Global Sisters Circle forming, now is a great time for guys to recognize the importance of our female counterparts outside of the usual relationship model. Let's be friends!
If you want peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies. -- Desmond Tutu
No Need to Commiserate
Since the dawn of time men have been sitting around with other men trying to figure out the mysteries of women. The same is probably true for women, but as a guy I can't say for sure. The bottom line is that there is a bit of a divide between the genders and the best way to heal it is to open an honest, from-the-heart dialogue. A good way to do this is to have friends from the opposite gender in a safe-zone away from the sometimes explosive neural chemicals produced in a sexual relationship.
The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn. -- Gloria Steinem
Don't Fear the Dreaded "Friend-Zone"
I feel very lucky to be a man with lots of female friends. This is different than being "stuck in the friend-zone," this is a conscious choice to broaden my understanding. Like most men, I have no idea what it would be like to have people cat-call me or make demeaning comments about my body since my teenage years. Hearing these stories and recognizing the ways society has shaped the world-view of women is valuable beyond measure for any man. Since mutual respect, trust, and safety are central to every kind of relationship this increased understanding will yield success in all areas.
Do not bring people in your life who weigh you down. And trust your instincts ... good relationships feel good. They feel right. They don't hurt. They're not painful. That's not just with somebody you want to marry, but it's with the friends that you choose. It's with the people you surround yourselves with. -- Michelle Obama
I love hearing women's stories about the men in their lives. Many times I can imagine that these friends probably feel the same way about their exes as my exes feel about me. It gives me an opportunity to understand things from perspectives that are very different from my own. It also gives me an opportunity to help my female friends understand things from a males perspective. Usually this is much more enlightening then having a conversation with the guys while crying a tear in my beer over a football game.
Different Genders, Different Emotional Languages to Learn From
This isn't an excuse but let's face it, boys/men are not given much room to be emotional beings in our Western society. As a result, many men who have as much feeling as any woman, are much less adept at communicating about it or navigating it. Society says that men shouldn't cry, so anger is the next best thing and that usually doesn't go over too well with women.
You grow up the day you have your first real laugh at yourself. -- Ethel Barrymore
Then there is the social conditioning that women experience where they are supposed to be submissive, polite, and not show anger. This leaves them just as confused about anger as men are about crying. This is certainly the stuff that makes for good romance novels but an increased understanding of relationship dynamics can refine the art form as well as increase the passion. We are here to learn from each other!
Bridging the Divide
There are two ways to listen across genders. You can either enable the other persons wound and confusion, or help them to see things from a new perspective. This type of compassionate listening can be completely transformational and healing... for both genders. Listening without judgement, honoring the hurt and confusion while also offering perspectives to help them grow and have a deeper understanding.
Global Sisters Circle
Oppressive social conditions from history have often caused women to pit themselves against each other or play out their jealousies. This has created broken trust amongst women. Sometimes women turn to men for friendship, but this can be problematic if the man if the man is wanting something more than friendship. That's why the emerging Global Sisterhood Movement in conjunction with International Women's Day is so powerful, check out their website and add your community to the map!
Join us for a Global Wave of Sister Circles on International Women's Day! Thousands of women are gathering locally in circles around the world to connect, uplift, and transform together. Sisters, daughters, friends, grandmothers ... transforming jealousy, competition, comparison, gossip, shame, and exclusivity into Sacred Sisterhood as we ignite the Divine Feminine. You're Invited to join a local Sister Circle in your community by finding one on our map. You can also sign up here to either facilitate a Sister Circle or align your current women's group/circle with us. -- Global Sister Circle Facebook Event Page
Not Just for Women!
Usually, as a guy I would see a post or article about International Women's Day and assume that it has nothing to do with me. That is no true. For those of us who want peace in this world and those who want healing, we can't afford to draw lines in the sand. As men, we have the ability to help other men evolve their opinions and treatment of women through having deeper respect. We can support events like this by asking our female friends how they'd like us to support. We can share this information on our social networks and let our female friends know that we are allies.
A woman is the full circle. Within her is the ability to create, nurture, and transform.
-- Diane Mariechild
So if you are a guy who is wondering how to break the ice and develop a friendship with women, here's your invitation. The official website for the event is here, and this ongoing group will be hosting some great programs for World Water Day in March. It's okay to show some vulnerability and recognize your hurt or confusion around women, and they may feel comfortable to share these same sentiments regarding their experiences with men. Each of us was created through the powerful energy of a man and a woman coming together, and we can harness this same energy to heal our world. Step right up!