Last night as I watched a televised studio-debate on sexual harassment in the workforce, I found that I was feeling increasingly troubled. This trouble I sense is of particular relevance and importance to those who want to get great outcomes.
During the debate about how bad and uneducated the perpetrators were it seemed to me that a great big elephant in the room was being steadfastly ignored.
In terms of sexual harassment, what's that 'great big elephant in the room'? There's actually two of them, but I digress.
Presently in Australia we have soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. It would be fair to assume that many in society (by dint of their being there) are happy for those men to be frightfully aggressive, to the point of killing others.
Aggression is acceptable in that context. Even when the Taliban (some of whom presumably are family men) aggressively say "no, we don't want you here" to Australians, our soldiers kill them anyway. We champion our soldiers for being aggressive. Now switch to an office situation. Now back to the front, now back to me (okay, couldn't resist the reference to the brilliant old spice ad campaign).
The question then is where does the ability to be so aggressive spring from? From the food they eat in the army? From the water they drink? Hardly. That's the first elephant. We rely on and champion aggression in and by others. We in effect 'outsource aggression' but only complain when that 'outsourced energy' is turned against us. Turn it against others and we're fine, happy, contented.
Seems to me though a bit of a double standard. It's not aggression per se, but aggression towards moi, that upsets.
This then leads to the second elephant in the room ... denial of responsibility for our reality.
What was evident from the show was the old 'women as victims' belief that is still so deeply embedded in the psyche of many. Women as victims? How is it that women live longer and in better health than men? How is it that, according to some reports1, women are more aggressive and physically violent in relationships, than men?
Truth be said we give our power over to others by outsourcing the role of aggression and dominance ... when it suits us.2 3Only trouble is, the habit of outsourcing that energy can leave us feeling depleted, tired, weak, powerless and victims.
Responsibility for one's reality: it's a very basic dimension to life, and one that seems to go under the radar of most.4
The central issue, or main elephant in the room, is and was "responsibility for one's circumstances" and of people's habitual powerlessness to take responsibility and ownership of their lives.
A simple question seems to me to be pertinent in all such cases: Is that what you want? In terms of being 'harassed', the 'victim' instead of blaming or cowering could ask, "is this what I want, and if not, what then am I going to do about it?"
Is feeling powerless what I want?
Is feeling trapped by circumstances what I want? Is feeling and believing "there are bad people out there", what I want?
Come to think of it, when ever "is that what you want" not a pertinent and powerful question to ask?
When ever is that simple question not a freeing, liberating energy that uplifts and energises?
For all those feeling powerless, perhaps that is the place to start, 'is this what I want?" and if not it follows that the next question that lends itself to being asked is "so what I am going to do about it?"
Any answer that involves "but, I'm a woman and vulnerable, ..." or "men in power have control..." or "I need this job because I've got three children to support ...", or "I can't change things because ..." all reflect a deep belief in powerlessness in both ourselves AND in others.
It telegraphs a belief of not being able to ask "what do I want?" and of not feeling the right to live the desired answer.
The soldier example was given above to show that when we're afraid of the masculine within ourselves we out-source that strength and determination to others (soldiers, police, authorities). To some extent out-sourcing the masculine is good ... we can't do it all ourselves. Besides we can't all be policemen or policewomen, or an authority of everything.
But being too masculine is as bad as not being masculine enough. In the process of being highly masculine we can paradoxically forego the ability to find the feminine, energy and ease within. The flip-side for taking on the role of the masculine for others is that we then must forego the power and freedom to be vulnerable and accepting.5 So we end up with a bad-dominant / weak-submissive dichotomy in our culture.
It's that "not feeling worthy to live what I want" energy that is the real elephant in our society. Of feeling constrained by social expectations, of ... not owning our own reality, of not having the courage to stay focused on what we want and to go for it in the face of 'fierce resistance' -- as those soldiers are often finding and countering in Afghanistan.
The real issue is that most won't 'insource the masculine'. Most won't heed the advice given around 2,000 years ago, that if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, say unto the mountain MOVE, and it shall move yonder into the sea. That mountain can be metaphorically a demanding boss, an under-performing business, a difficult relationship ... an unhappy life.
"Insourcing the masculine' was good to go 2,000 years ago, and seems to me, good to go now.
If we want great outcomes, I sense we'll all need to 'step up' and insource the masculine.
What does 'insourcing the masculine' mean in practical terms?
First of all it's about being definitive, definite, focused, outspoken and assertive for what we want! It's not some meek, mousy energy of peace and surrender and "I'll just go with the flow (subtext: because I'm really too afriad to be 'masculine' and get what I want)".
Secondly, it's about action. Taking action to engage what we want, rather than waiting for us to just 'attract' it into our lives. Do we wait for someone to carry us to the toilet if we want to pee? No, we simply get up and go!
But let's not forget that we also need to engage the feminine; to let go and allow the coincidences, intuitions, assistance and guidance of others help us act and achieve.
Getting what we want (great outcomes) involves both masculine and feminine; action and rest; lots of wonderful, rousing noise and stillness; the journey and the end-results.
- 1. A few examples of studies that confirm women are more violent in relationships:
- "In nonreciprocally violent relationships, women were the perpetrators in more than 70% of the cases."
- "When it comes to domestic confrontation, women are more violent than men."
- "More importantly, we found that violence was perpetrated more frequently (by women only) ..."
among many other similar findings
- 2. Most mothers are happily dominant over and demanding of their kids.
- 3. Additional resources, the Examiner article and the American Journal of Public Health, et al
- 4. The accedence to being a victim is of course related to a long tradition of masculine-aggression, feminine-subservience that has fueled our Western lifestyle. Conquering far off lands to bring home the jewels, spices, produce and slaves all reliant on a decent dose of (mostly British) aggression and dominance.
- 5. Think here about the requirement for soldiers to be stoic, strong, not vulnerable and accepting.