Nine Things Men Gain by Promoting the Equality of Women

This is side one of my pamphlet on the equality of women and men.

From one man to another… Nine Things Men Gain by Promoting the Equality of Women

A New Kind of Power
In the past, power has usually been seen as power over someone else. But this kind of power requires that a great deal of energy be used to push backwards against someone behind or below. There is a very different kind of power that is more efficient, more effective, and much more pleasant to exercise – this is the power of cooperation. This power uses energy to pull upwards, and the more people there are who join in the effort, the higher everyone progresses. Many women are very good with this kind of power, and they make great teammates. The more equal and the more empowered your teammate, the more empowered you become yourself. So it is in your best interest to both invite women onto your team and give them every opportunity to exercise their power alongside you.

A New View of Your Soul
The soul is a reflection of the attributes (or virtues) of God. If you have always thought of yourself as a male soul in a male body, then you may have felt that you should only reflect “masculine” virtues like courage, strength and perseverance. But God is neither male nor female. There is no battle going on between god and goddess, because God is far beyond the limitations of gender. If we are to achieve our full spiritual potential, we must learn to see ourselves and others as souls first, bodies second, and genders a distant third.

New Relationships with Women
Contrary to popular opinion (and the movie When Harry Met Sally), women and men can have friendships that don’t involve sex. But to do so, we have to see each other as souls. As bodies, we relate to women as mothers, lovers, wives, sisters or daughters. These are material definitions that help us feel separate from and often superior to the women in our lives. But soul-to-soul, we become partners, teachers, helpers and friends. While a body can be judged as strong or frail, young or old, beautiful or ugly at just a glance, a soul must be experienced through a relationship in order to be appreciated. When we accept the principle of equality, we are forced to look beyond obvious physical inequalities, and look for spiritual strengths that unite us.

New Relationships with Men
Women tend to experience relationships differently than men. Differently. Not better or worse, just differently. As we learn to relate to women as equals, as friends and as souls, then we will increase our capacity to reflect a fuller range of relationship styles. We can then use these different styles if and when they seem appropriate in our interactions with other men. We may discover that seeing our fathers, brothers, bosses and sons as souls increases our desire for friendships, while having a wider range of relationship styles gives us the skills we need to maintain them.

New Emotional Flexibility
When we begin to see ourselves as souls, and look beyond the socially defined roles of our gender, then we become free to have and express emotions that were previously considered “inappropriate.” We do not give up our strength and courage; we gain sensitivity and compassion.

Reduced Stress
Trying to maintain feelings of superiority and clinging to control are both very stressful. Being the boss; being the protector; being the king of the household; being the one who is supposed to always know best; these are all roles that men are forced to play, and they can give us ulcers. Life is infinitely easier when decisions, responsibility and control are shared with strong, supportive and equal partners. This is true whether you are “in control” of a household or a corporation.

Greater Wealth
Many people imagine that wealth is something that one gathers – and then they struggle to grab their share. In reality, wealth is something we create through intelligence, creativity and effort. If half of the world’s population is discouraged from using their talents and capacities, then the wealth of the world as a whole is diminished significantly. Until recently, almost half of all art and music, half of all scientific discoveries and half of all social progress was lost or delayed because the genius that might have brought them to light resided within a female body. What would your life be like right now if the world were twice as advanced as it is? Can any of us really afford to delay equality?

A Less Violent World
As guys, we know that a verbal insult can often lead to violence. If a man is called a “stupid idiot” in public, there is a good chance that some form of revenge will be forthcoming. What we may not realize is that the non-verbal insult of treating women like stupid idiots creates an undercurrent of anger and resentment that fosters nonphysical forms of violence like emotional blackmail and sabotage. At the same time, feelings of superiority allow some men to feel that they have a right to take what they want from women, even if it requires coercion, manipulation or physical violence.

Increased Self Esteem
Oddly enough, minimizing women does not actually help men feel better about themselves. The simple reason is that, from a spiritual perspective, women and men are both reflections of the same Creator. We are made in the same image. We can’t look in a mirror and say “you’re so weak and worthless,” without feeling a little weaker and less valuable ourselves. The more good we find in women, the more qualities we will find acceptable in our own characters.

Nine Ways Men Can Work for the Equality of Women

Side Two of my pamphlet on equality of women and men.

From One Man to Another – Nine Ways Men Can Work for the Equality of Women

When we listen to women — without trying to control, seduce or patronize them — we discover that they have much to teach us. We can learn, not just from their words, but from the way they talk to us and to each other, the subjects they find interesting, and the feelings they express. Unless we listen, we may never understand why they care about the things they do, and we may miss out on some of the important things in life. Understanding what women value is a key step in learning to value women themselves.

Invite Women to Join Your Team
You are already good at what you are good at. Wouldn’t it be helpful to have teammates that are good at other things? Different perspectives and different experiences help build different skills. Women often have the skills your project needs in order to succeed. In return, you can provide the opportunity for women to develop the new skills they need — and that your project can teach them.

Study the Art of Consultation
Consultation is a decision-making process in which personalities and private agendas are set aside and everyone in a group is encouraged to offer input concerning a common goal. Letting go of ownership of an idea, and wholehearted support of the group’s decision are two key elements of the process. Women’s voices are more likely to be heard, and their ideas appreciated in this kind of setting.

Rethink Your View of Motherhood
Being a mother is not what women do when they have rich husbands or can’t find a better job. Nor is it the sappy idealized image on a Mother’s Day card. Just as the womb provides the physical nutrients needed for healthy development, a mother provides the physical, emotional and spiritual “food” for an awakening young soul. If the mother lacks food, education, serenity, self esteem or love of God, then how can these essential needs be passed down to her child?

Value Children
We will never value mothers until we value children and understand the critical importance of the first few years of our lives. For centuries we have pretended that children were “resilient” and would “get over” whatever pain, suffering and humiliation they might experience. Now we are discovering that what we have forgotten from our childhood may have a stronger influence on our habits and fears than those things we remember. The importance of healthy, happy, and empowered mothers is clear. Our future depends on them.

Be a Good Father
Support your daughter’s dreams. Make sure she receives the education and inspiration she needs to be a loving parent and a contributing member of society. In doing this, you will also be setting a good example for your sons, who need to see your respect for women demonstrated in action.

Be a Supportive Husband
Give your wife time for prayer, meditation and rejuvenation. This is a polite way of saying do your share of housework. Whether your wife works outside of the home or rears children, these are both full-time activities that are just as demanding as what you do. So set aside some time to cook, clean, do laundry, and grocery shop so that your wife will be able to recharge her batteries and be a fully empowered partner.

Stand Up for Women
This may be the most difficult act of all, because it forces us to step outside of our comfortable circle of friends, risk our own position of status, and support someone else. The process is even more challenging when we realize that we must do it with love. We are not taking sides in the battle of the sexes. We are trying to bring the sides together in greater understanding and cooperation. This is best accomplished when we focus on how much we have to gain rather than what we are giving up; how much we love unity rather than how disgusted we are by sexism.

Listen Some More
Not only to women, but also to comments by other men, advertisements, jokes, media portrayals, and (most importantly) your own soul. Become sensitive to the subtle ways in which both men and women are limited by habit, tradition, expectations and prejudice. Then practice thinking, acting and feeling differently than you have in the past.

Now, find a safe place to practice.
The Bahá’í Community is a safe place to practice developing new attitudes towards women. In it you will find men and women of all educational, racial and social backgrounds working together to understand each other better without using blame, anger or guilt as tools of manipulation. You will see women in positions of power, and find men who welcome and learn from them. It is not a utopia, but it is a safe place to start.

The Bahá’í Community is an international group of people united by their common faith in the unity of the human family. We believe that there is only one loving Creator, Whose Spirit is reflected in the hearts of both men and women of every race and nation on earth. We look at the world’s great religions—Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and the Bahá’í Faith—as progressive chapters in the unfolding book of God’s love and guidance. If that makes sense to you, then give us a call or visit our web site to find out more.