One of my close male friends had debated with me once that bringing up struggles of men is quickly shot down and concluded as invalid. I really did not accept his claim.
In my head, I am thinking, “what exactly are you going through?!” I am also internalizing that if I accept his struggle right now, I am taking away the visibility from the more important fight of our times. I don't want to be the soft feminine. I will not surrender.
But eventually I just want to be human, and help this other human in spite of the gender blocks we were meticulously placed in over time.
My friend’s point was men go through their own set of challenges that have never ever been processed by men or the system because of the standard roles defined for them that do not involve recognizing emotional and psychological troubles as they also maneuver their way around a complicated social fabric. He was not undermining the feminist movement. He was just begging me to also listen to the unheard traumas of his gender.
I initially argued on how we(women) have struggled way more since the beginning of time, and we don't have time for your lesser priority issues right now, but eventually corrected myself internally that I can’t be comparing pain and make one disaster bigger or smaller than the other one. Disaster is disaster.
I sympathized with him. I saw another human completely crushed by the burdens of roles and expectations set by society.
Men cannot cry. Men cannot like flowers. Men cannot love pink. Men cannot try to look beautiful. Real men fight for their objects. Real men are always strong.
And so in that moment of standing in the kitchen of a mud hut of a remote Himalayan farm, I saw another human troubled by what has come about because of our obsession with categorization and labeling everything. Our conditioning to see everything as black and white, or in this case, pink and blue, has left everything in plastic boxes we no longer know what the heck to do with.
We move around with these boxes hoping for everything to fit perfectly in the assigned blocks, but it doesn’t, because we are humans!! We are each our own shape, our own unique form, our very special imprints. How can one ever standardize us!
This blind following of a standardized format is exactly what has led to increased mental health issues for everyone. We are constantly trying to work within our respective set boundaries of behaviors and daily functioning. And that has led to a confused and angry state where no one feels heard or respected or validated and there is this constant disharmony. Everyone is dissatisfied and sad.
So what can be done?
We can start by feeling things and processing them. Yes, yes, that. Might sound extremely childish to some folks. But yes this is the first step to a not crazy life. If we are bothered or hurt by something someone said, we can start with identifying the emotion and accept how it is negatively impacting us. We can take off our masks of compliance and really feel whats inside our hearts.
Sliding things under the carpet is not going to work anymore. We have been sitting on these piled up collective harmful emotions as a society for way too long now. It is ok to say to yourself that you were hurt today and cry about it. It is ok to confront difficult situations. It might get uncomfortable, embarrassing, unpleasant but with this one step, we can move towards a healthier emotional space.
We can also create safe spaces at work and home that encourage this inner and external processing enabling to communicate and exchange lessons learned more like humans, sort of like how me and my friend were doing. We really are in this together.
If not for anything else, ten years from now, we wouldn't be sitting in our dark apartments and wondering about why we didn't do or say anything when our racist bosses and sexist professors were on to their usual work without even knowing that they were being completely pathetic.
We can embrace both our feminine and our masculine
Shockingly true but we have both these amazing sides to play with.
Men living in arrogant days: try to come back home to your feminine, to your humbleness. You didn't want to let go of your stubborn decision at work because it would be giving up your authority. So come back home to your feminine. Open your heart. Help your young subordinate figuring out a task that they find challenging. It would feel totally awesome. Try it.
Women living in submissive days: try to come back home to your masculine, to your rebellious form. You have had no one listening to you at that meeting table because you are quiet and respectful and don't want to interrupt an unruly crowd. It is ok to come back home to your masculine. It is ok to be loud here, to make sure your point gets heard. It is alright. It is not ‘ladylike’ and maybe not even professional. But it is ok! You can roar this time.
Let us find a perfect balance between our sacred masculine and our sacred feminine. Let us watch out for each other when losing this balance and let us encourage each other to always come back home.
We don’t have a format to follow. We absolutely don’t need to. Let us encourage our young boys and girls to make their unique expressions and be their own self. Let us give them an open and nonbiased environment. Let us not start programming them with the nonsense we grew up with. We don’t need to be boxes when we can flow uninhibited in our sacred unique forms and be together as a beautiful, healthy and transcendental ocean. It is doable.