Warren Farrell, Ph.D.
ISE2 (Integral Spiritual Experience/The Future of Love)
Dec 31, 2010
Asilomar, Pacific Grove, Ca
We completed Part I by asking “How do we help our sons become multi-option men?”
First step is by confronting our society’s dependency on male disposability–in war and in work.
That is, virtually every society that survived had an unconscious investment in training its sons to be disposable. Whether being disposable protecting our country from an enemy, or disposable protecting our homes from fire; whether being disposable on construction sites building our homes, our offices or our Asilomars; or in coalmines heating our homes, our offices or our Asilomars. Whether by making a killing in the hunt, or by “making a killing” on Wall Street and risking, as the Japanese call it, “ karoshi,” or “death from overwork.” Thus 92% of workplace deaths are to men.
Like girls, boys are social animals. Historically, to socialize our sons for disposability, we taught our sons to call it “glory” to die in war (as in the Civil War movie, Glory); even today, we cheer boys and men who “win” at sports likely to create injury– football, X-games, the Ultimate Fighting Championships, ice hockey, rodeos, car racing…; if a quarterback throws with a dislocated shoulder, we call it “courage” rather than call a doctor.
As adults, we praise men for volunteering to die. Thus 76% of American firefighters are volunteers. Almost 100% men. Their pay? Praise. Respect. Social bribes to protect us.
Boys who successfully protect a society by risking death are called “heroes.” It says it all that, etymologically, the word “hero” derives from “ser-ow,” from which we get our word “ servant” (think “public servant”), and slave, and protector.[vi] Since all humans are social animals, calling boys “heroes” is a “social bribe” to risk death so the rest of us may live.
Who teaches this to boys? Two of the most potent forces in boys’ lives: parents; and cheerleaders who cheer the football star with “first and ten, do it again,” when he “again” subjects himself to concussions, broken bones and spinal chord injuries. Collectively we teach boys to associate being abused with being loved. girls support this; other boys support this; parents and teachers support this; taxpayer money supports this (meaning we all support this–if not, raise hand, I’ll report you to IRS…!);
When does he learn to associate abuse with being loved? Prior to the “age of consent.” Think Pop Warner football. Think age eight.
If a boy in the U.S. can be said to have a choice to comply with the social bribe, he has no choice but to comply with the legal mandate. At age 18, only our sons must register for the draft.
The irony of traditional masculinity is that what a society does to socialize a boy to contribute to a healthy society is the opposite of what it needs to do to socialize a boy to be healthy as an individual.
Yes, men’s weakness is our façade of strength. For example, when a man reflexively rescues a woman, or puts out a fire, he generates testosterone, but that weakens his immune system;[vii] he increases his adrenaline (or epinephrine), but that makes him vulnerable to blood clotting, and therefore to heart failure.
This new permission–for men to take care of their own health rather than die to protect others–is an evolutionary shift.
Until we confront our dependency on male disposability we cannot give our sons permission to discover their spiritual and emotional selves–to progress to where women are today.
Our sons today are still human doings; our evolutionary shift–our evolutionary gift–for our sons is to allow them to be human beings.
Gender Transition Three: the society’s transition from infrastructures that support rigid survival roles to infrastructures that support flexible fulfillment roles.
We just saw that our sons’ transition requires a different societal attitude toward our son’s disposability. It also requires a different societal infrastructure to give that attitude teeth.
The three most important are: a male birth control pill ; paternity leave; and “Team executive positions.”
Male birth control pill
From our daughters’ perspective, a male birth control pill relieves women from being the only sex to have their hormones tampered with–it allows our sons to share that burden. From our sons’ perspective, if our son is with a woman who wishes to get married, says she is on birth control but is not, she can abort, or sue for support; our son can agree, or go to prison. A woman’s pill is considered by some to be the most important single element in women’s liberation in the 20th Century. A male birth control pill could be our son’s equivalent for the 21st Century. But more important, it helps make our sons an equal partner in not just raising children, but an equal partner in the decision to create a child.
In Sweden paternity leave began in 1995 with one month of parent leave reserved for fathers (at 80% of pay). If the dad doesn’t take the leave, it is lost. Since then, divorce and separation rates have gone down; women’s pay and shared custody have gone up. Companies such as the cell phone giant Ericsson find, “graduates used to look for big paychecks. Now they want work-life balance.” [viii] What do the companies get? Men’s happiness with their family contributes to their effectiveness at work.
“Team executive positions.”
“Men’s work” was built on the male-as-sole-breadwinner model in which the most successful men, whether CEOs or M.D.s, were the most subservient–they were in effect slaves to the workplace for up to 90-hour weeks. Increasingly men want more time with their family, and many companies see that when an executive neglects his home life it eventually impacts his work life. Think Tiger Woods. Companies that value these men–and their female equivalents– but that also want to compete globally, will need to re-invent the infrastructure of a top-level-executive position.
For example, instead of paying one CEOs $10 million for 90-hour weeks and no family life, a company pays three or four co-CEOs a quarter million each to work 40-50 hours/week. Using today’s technology they are trained in MBA programs to communicate as a team. This allows women and men to have families and be top-level executives. Technology has made something possible that wasn’t possible in the past; globalization has made it necessary; our children’s need for at-home parents, not absentee executives paying for nannies,, makes our future dependent on “Team Executive Positions.”
Gender Transition Four. Everyone’s transition from survival Communication to Empathy Communication to allow us to make the first three transitions with love rather than blame.
OK, survival communication vs. empathy communication:
The Achilles’ heel of humans is our inability to handle personal criticism without becoming defensive. Especially our inability to handle personal criticism from a loved one who is giving it badly. (Of course, by definition, any loved one criticizing us is giving it badly!)
Our Achilles’ heel is the remnant of survival communication. Historically, being criticized signaled an enemy. Putting up defenses was functional for survival. It might even be functional to kill the enemy before the enemy killed us. (Have you ever felt like “killing” a loved one before their criticism “kills” you?) The problem? Being defensive makes us unable to provide a safe environment for our partner to express feelings. What was functional for survival is dysfunctional for intimacy.
For this reason, I’ve worked for decades to create a ” work-around” to our biological tendency to be defensive. It’s called ” Empathy Communication.” It involves seven mindsets that, taken together, allow a person hearing criticism to experience the criticism as love. Not just intellectually, but emotionally.
For example, the “ Love Guarantee.” The meditation that allows for the “Love Guarantee” to feel real is “ The more I fully understand my partner, the more she or he will feel loved by me; therefore, the more she or he will feel love for me.”
It takes considerable discipline before even this first of seven mindsets–the “Love Guarantee”– feels genuine.
In fact, this is just the beginning of “The Discipline of Love.” Falling in love is natural; sustaining love is unnatural. Being “I” is natural; being “We” is unnatural. Which is why sustaining love requires both an art and discipline: The art of love. And the discipline of love. This requires the art and discipline of appreciating; and the art and discipline of providing a safe environment for our partner when they criticize us. How do we do this without experiencing emotional abuse? By knowing how to make it safe within ourselves to be criticized. That’s what requires the most powerful meditation.
Without the art and discipline of love being part of our parenting and our grammar school education, then what is natural will prevail: divorce wars, political wars, religious wars, ethnic wars.
Love’s reservoir is filled when a partner practices the discipline of appreciation–appreciating the little things each of us contributes all the time, every day. The art of appreciation is how it is done–my letting you know my appreciation for the energy you put forth to get here this morning, to listen attentively for an hour, to get the larger picture even when you disagreed with a specific example….
In conclusion, there are Four Gender Transitions it will be necessary for spiritual leaders to facilitate: the woman’s transition from rigid survival roles to flexible fulfillment roles; the man’s transition from rigid survival roles to flexible fulfillment roles; the society’s transition from infrastructures that support rigid survival roles to infrastructures that support flexible fulfillment roles. Everyone’s transition from survival Communication to Empathy Communication to allow us to make the first three transitions with love rather than blame.
The art and discipline of love is the glue that takes us through our gender transition. It creates the safety we all need to have our story heard until we volunteer we feel understood; it requires the discipline to wait until others tell us they feel understood by us before we try to get them to listen to us.
No, this isn’t love in our past– dominated by the need to survive that created a division of labor and a division of interests between the sexes.
And it isn’t love at present–dominated by women expressing their feelings of discontent and men putting their heads in the sand hoping the bullets will miss.
But it can be the future of love. I am privileged to be sharing a sliver of my life’s work with you who are so needed to facilitate the four gender transitions to the future of love.
Warren Farrell, Ph.D.
[ i] “The Trouble with Boys,” Newsweek, January 30, 2006. p. 50.
[ii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Compressed Mortality File. 1999-2006. CDC WONDER On-line Database, compiled from Compressed Mortality File 1999-2006 Series 20 No. 2L, 2009. Accessed at http://wonder.cdc.gov/cmf-icd10.html on Mar 31, 2010 9:00:11 PM. SOURCE LINK
[iii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Compressed Mortality File. 1999-2006. CDC WONDER On-line Database, compiled from Compressed Mortality File 1999-2006 Series 20 No. 2L, 2009. Accessed at http://wonder.cdc.gov/cmf-icd10.html on Mar 31, 2010 9:00:11 PM. SOURCE LINK
[iv] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Compressed Mortality File. 1999-2006. CDC WONDER On-line Database, compiled from Compressed Mortality File 1999-2006 Series 20 No. 2L, 2009. Accessed at http://wonder.cdc.gov/cmf-icd10.html on Mar 31, 2010 9:00:11 PM. SOURCE LINK
[v] US Department of Health and Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2005, with Chartbook on Trends in the Health of Americans. Table 46 (page 1 of 3): Death rates for suicide, according to sex, race, Hispanic origin, and age: United States, selected years 1900-2003, p. 221. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus05.pdf#027.
[vi] The root of the word “hero” is “ser-ow.” In Greek, the connotation was “protector.” The Latin root word for “protector” is “servare.” From the same root word family comes the word “servire,” meaning “slave,” from which we get our word “serve.” See Julius Pokorny, Indogermanisches Etymologisches Worterbuch (Bern: Francke, 1959); or, for slightly easier reading, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (NY: American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc. & Houghton Mifflin Co., 1969), p. 1538.