He categorized men and women as different. Surprise, surprise. Not based on gender but based on their feelings and their needs. What do I mean by that?
I am not denying the very biological and sexual differences between men and women, but to differentiate and separately categorize their feelings could be a dangerous endeavor. He believed that women’s challenge in this world is to get over their fears and their insecurities and it is only then that they can live a fulfilling life. Then he talked about the challenge of a man in this world is to let go of his arrogance and greed, and only then will he be able to find the right path to a satisfying life.
So far everything that he has said makes sense and can be understood but what did not get discussed and seems to be missing from not just this speech but our societal messages was how different these challenges sound and yet how similar their underlying cause is. I want to make it clear that the speech is an example of what takes place in our communities and our unconscious and how these messages get played out in our everyday lives.
When he talked about women and overcoming their fears and their insecurities, the tone and diction were very passive. With women it’s all about the loss of control and powerlessness. Women are portrayed as weak and very easily brainwashed, hence they need to work on their fears and insecurities, and feelings such as jealousy. But when men were discussed, the tone and choice of words were direct and active; talking about feelings of power and having control, feelings such as arrogance and greed (all of which require you to either be in a position of power or to look for it).
Now why do I believe that differentiating the two genders based on such feelings could be dangerous? What could possibly be the impact of such messages?
First of all let’s make it clear that both men and women experience fear, jealousy, arrogance, greed, and the need for control in the same way that both experience happiness and sadness. Obviously there are individual differences in how we express and process our feelings but the fact that we all feel happiness, sadness, grief, and fear is undeniable. So far my point has been that by categorizing people in such distinct boxes we are conveying to them what is appropriate for a man vs. woman to feel and what is off limits (i.e. men are arrogant vs. women are insecure); let’s call that emotional stereotyping. We advertise that women feel insecure and men feel arrogant, really denying the fact that there are a lot of insecure men and arrogant women.
Now the most important missing aspect of such ideology, the underlying cause for feeling insecure or arrogant, for wanting more and wanting to prove to others that we are better (regardless of gender) is one dreadful thought: I AM NOT GOOD ENOUGH. A part of us believes that “I am afraid that I am not good enough because I am not tall enough, thin enough, rich enough, educated enough” and those manifest themselves in different ways in people. But the generalizations about men and women inhibit us from honestly looking at this core similarity. To feel not enough or less than hurts regardless of your gender identity. The internal battle of feeling ashamed is a painful journey that tints the soul; it is already difficult to admit to this painful experience but to top it off with generalizations about how they should or would manifest in men vs. women is an injustice to the human race. You hear something enough, you start believing it. we must be careful about how we talk, the words we choose and the ways we come to think because they can hurt us and limit us from being fully human.