Men and Women—Confusion, and Trying

From a talk by Tim Jackins at the Women and Men Leaders’ Workshop, in Washington, D.C., USA, October 2017

We’re in this interesting struggle—all of us, men and women—because of the way society has inflicted damage on all of us and pushed us apart and confused us about each other. And we are confused. We men are confused about women.

We have been forced into the role of supporting the exploitation, manipulation, and disempowerment of women. We don’t need to blame ourselves for that. We’re not to blame for the distresses that have been inflicted on us. But they are ours now; they don’t belong to anyone else. We get to take responsibility and not let them play themselves out [be acted out], not pass them on the way they were passed on to us. Part of that is to not act them out—but that is not enough. We have to also begin doing the human things the distresses have kept us from doing.

There are big ways the oppression shows up and gets acted out, and thousands of small ways. We grew up around them and often don’t even notice them. We have memories of our sisters, our mothers, our grandmothers, and the children at school—the boys and the girls and their interaction with each other. In my elementary school there was a line down the middle of the playground. Girls were on one side, boys were on the other, and if you went near the line there was a big reaction. It was harsher for the boys, but it wasn’t good for the girls either. Now is that big and horribly oppressive? Well, it had—and probably still has—its effect.

Women want you men in their lives, whether or not you can tell [notice] that they do. They do want you in their lives, and they don’t fully understand the way that you’ve been hurt. For many women the harshness, brutality, and isolation we are so used to is inconceivable. Most women still have much discharging to do to be able to look at the ways we are hurt as males and stay thinking about us.

We men have largely given up on each other. We hope that women will act like they like us, but we have to give up that frozen hope. It’s not their job. It’s quite difficult at this point for most of them to actually look at how we’ve been hurt, understand it, and come close. They have been hurt by men acting out the same things that we carry. (We don’t like to think that, but it’s true.) So there’s a real, solid reason it’s difficult.

We think that we have our version of that material under control and that it doesn’t show. We are wrong. We don’t act it out fully. We’re all to be congratulated on that. That’s a victory. But women know the distress is there.

When someone has a heavy distress, people notice it—even though the person hides it enough that other people don’t quite know what it is. There’s uneasiness in not knowing what the battle is that’s being held down.

Many women can’t yet look at male distresses directly. And it’s not their job. So our frozen hope that somebody will look, understand, and accept us anyway—as bad and as damaged as we feel, and without our moving to heal the hurts—isn’t going to lead us in good directions. We have to stand with each other and work on the distresses.

There is a way to show ourselves and not pretend that we weren’t hurt but not client about it all the time and not act like it’s the basis of our lives. I don’t think I can tell you exactly how to do that. I think a way exists. We already find ways to let our humanness be in the forefront; to not act out other things.

Women are hoping that men can play a good and equal role in their lives. Some of that is frozen in distress, and we get confused. We get confused if anybody looks like they want us or need us. We get confused into making thoughtless and valiant efforts to fix things, when in fact people’s frozen expectations, behaviors, and perspectives can only be discharged.

What’s the clearest picture you have of your interaction with women? Sometimes I notice myself going to make contact without having thought about it. I just go there.

What is the relationship we are trying to have as a group of Co-Counseling men with a group of Co-Counseling women? What do you want it to be? How do you want to be able to think about the women?

There are things to have in mind [be thinking about] so that we are trying something, not just going and seeing what happens. We can try to make something happen on purpose. Many of us have given up on having any effect on relationships. We’re just waiting for something to happen that we can make use of. Instead, we get to decide, as best we can, what the relationship is to be.

We can try to show enough of ourselves that someone can think of building some kind of relationship with us, can see that someone is there to build with. You get to figure out your version of this. What we are trying to do will be done by your individual mind. Working on it collectively helps, but it’s your mind that can put something into practice.

Tim Jackins

(Present Time 193, October 2018)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00