One thing that really helped to heal me from the impact of feminism on my younger self, was opening my eyes to the kindness of men. That’s hard to do, not because there aren’t any kind men in the world, but because feminism teaches you to focus only on the negative, and to deny biology in the process. One simply cannot be all about “smashing the patriarchy, dismantling hetero-normalcy, and ending oppression,” without perceiving men as the enemy, as the root of all evil.
Ironically, the roots of this kind of wounding aren’t really rooted in men at all, but rather hostility towards women, which then becomes hostility towards our own selves, and eventually towards womanhood itself. Self loathing. It’s a subtlety we often miss, but I’ve yet to meet a woman who’s wounding and brokenness isn’t rooted somewhere in anger towards a woman who let us down, perhaps a mother, as was true in my case.
I don’t know exactly what gets bent and twisted in the female psyche, but facing or confronting our own anger towards women is just not allowed, it’s just not done, it’s buried too deeply. It took me years to accept that my mother had not only failed to protect me, she had done real harm, kept me from my father, tried to suppress my faith. I guess when it’s your mother there is such a powerful need to protect her, protect her even from your own negative feelings, that it can distort reality.
It took me years to even admit I was angry. My mother’s particular issue always demands I choose between her and my father, between her and my faith, between her and myself.
The worst thing I ever said to my mother after having been married for a number of years was, “you know mom, I kind of like men.” She said I “disgusted her, what a horrible, shameful thing to say,” but in that moment I knew I was finally free. My mother taught me to focus my eyes on men so I would never be tempted to focus my eyes on her. Once I saw her as she really was, her hold over me would be broken forever and so it was.
It’s a bit comical to remember that day, my heart just soaring with the truth now spoken aloud, “you know, I kind of like men,” and the truth shall set you free! “If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed” Instantly my eyes opened and I began to see things in ways I never had before.
The memories of that day came flooding back to me today as I poured over some photos of the women’s march in Seattle yesterday and those same eyes still open just delighted in some of what I saw. A group of young firemen sitting up high on a roof grinning as they watched a million women pour into the streets, and a bike cop with a smile on his face handing out heart shaped chocolates to passer bys. I saw a man with a bunch carnations passing out flowers and hugs. There was no riot gear, no show of force, just the odd sun break now and then and rows of smiling cops……passing out chocolates and flowers.
Those are our brothers, fathers, husbands, sons. That is their kindness, their protection and provision on full display. That is the truth of who and what they are as men. All those women pouring into the street, uncertain about the future, fearful of our new president, afraid of losing some ground, can’t always see it, but it’s really the kindness of men that has always looked out for us, reassured us, told us that all will be well in the years to come.
I pray for more eyes to open so they can see that truth.