Gender Differences Don't Have to Be Obstacles to a Good Relationship
I never would have guess that in 2012, we would still need to talk about gender differences but here we are. It's only my opinion but I think there is still a problem with men and women understanding each other and respecting the things that make them different. And, I happen to think that if we could find that respect and understanding, things would be a lot better between us.
There are distinctive differences in our genders for a reason and those differences can be our greatest strength, if we just understand them. So, let's talk about them.
A little background
My interest in the issue of male and female roles began many years ago when I began to realize that my own spiritual beliefs were derived from many philosophies. In my desire to better understand the concept of “God”, I delved into a variety of spiritual belief systems. Although raised in a Christian home, I never fully accepted the bullying that is prevalent in many Christian churches. Fear-based religion just never made sense to me. Please understand that I have never questioned the existence of God but I couldn't wrap my brain around what God really was. I couldn't squeeze the concept of God into a box. I couldn't give it (God) shape or texture or gender or race. I couldn't describe God, so I began my quest to learn more.
Today, I am most comfortable with the concepts of Native American spirituality. It resonates in my core better than any other religion I have studied. It is simple and straightforward but the primary reasons I am drawn to it are:
- At its core is earth stewardship and respect for all living things.
- The Creator has given us a beautiful world in which to exist and we have a responsibility to care for it.
- The foundation of Native American spirituality is being responsible for one’s actions and their impact on the next seven generations.
- In practice, it is deeply rooted in ceremony which forces one to set aside the daily worries and pray.
- In practice it is a religion that honors the different Creator (God) given gifts of men, women, children, and even the affirmed and, recognizing that we are each unique and an integral part of the circle of life.
What I know is that the Creator (God) is bigger than my capacity to understand. Therefore, I just simply believe.
In my opinion, many of the problems in our society today stem from a culture that has lost sight of the unique gifts of each gender. Our lifestyle has spawned at least two generations of men and women who compete with each other rather than walking side by side in unity and strength for the good of the family and, our world. At some point in time men and women began looking at each other as competition rather than as a compliment to each other. Instead of honoring their differences, they allowed that competition to divide them. We are weaker as a people as a result.
So let’s talk about the primary gifts given by the Creator to each gender and see if we can open a dialogue that leads to a greater understanding and ultimately, a better world. Before I begin, let’s be clear. No gender is less strong or less important than the other.
The Gift Given To Women
What could be more sacred than to bring new life into the world? It is the highest honor and it was given to women, not men, by the Creator (God). Bringing forth new life is like preparing a garden. Life begins with a natural preparation that takes place each month when a women’s body prepares her womb by the cleansing power of her moon time (menstrual period). But a long time ago women began to see this time as a curse; a time when the natural cycle interferes with the rhythm of her lifestyle. It became something to be controlled by medicine or ignored with the modern conveniences of devices that absorb the flow and then allow it to be discarded like any other piece of trash.
In traditional societies, women who were on their moon (menstrual period), were considered to be so powerful that they were not allowed to prepare food, take care of the family, or participate in ceremonies. A woman’s moon was a sacrifice. It was the price she paid for the gift of being able to bring life into the world. And, its power was considered so strong that it would steal power from the most sacred things around her. During her moon, a woman was often taken to a special lodge where she was allowed to sit in prayer while the cleansing took place and her blood returned to Mother Earth. It was a ceremony of cleansing and restoration. While the woman was in the moon lodge, other women would pamper and groom her; allowing her to concentrate on her prayers. It was a time of rest and honoring the sacred.
The Gift Given To Men
We all know that women cannot make new life alone. The Creator (God) made men and women as compliments to each other so for men to participate in the creation of life, men were given sperm. It did not come without a price though. Men too must make a sacrifice in honor of the gift of his role in bringing life into the world. Thus, man was given strength and a ceremony, the sweat lodge ceremony. In the sweat lodge, men would sacrifice through the pores of his skin (sweating) to honor his ability to contribute to bringing new life into being. As a man sacrificed his sweat and prayers his body was cleansed and he became stronger in mind, body, and spirit; more able to provide for his family. This was a man’s role to protect and provide for his family and spiritually, for the next seven generations.
Fast Forward to Today
So how can we apply these traditional beliefs today to make us a better society and to ensure a better world for the next seven generations? If we changed nothing but our attitudes it would be a good start.
Women who see their moon (menstrual period) as a curse, will respond psychologically to her moon in a negative way and may not even be aware. But those around her often are. I have seen and experienced the difference that takes place when a woman changes her attitude and begins to honor her moon cycle as the gift it is – a sacred gift. When a woman takes time during her moon to pamper herself, get more rest, eat healthier, and pray more, her energy changes and in many cases, her cycle will be altered as well. A woman who normally bleeds heavily may see her flow become much lighter. The cramps that she might normally experience may disappear or at least become less painful or last for a shorter time. She will begin to feel more feminine and more powerful and less interested in competing with men because she is confident and complete in her spirit.
Men, who begin to understand the importance of their role in bringing life into the world oftentimes, become more masculine, just in the knowledge. A man, who will sacrifice through some ceremony or prayer, will grow in his confidence and self-worth and will become a better partner or husband. The ceremony may be a 5 mile run or an hour in the woods. It may be a support group of other men. The choice is his but it is crucial to set aside some time for prayer and to honor the gift. A man who does this will be a better father. He will be a better provider and ultimately, a better man. He will understand and respect himself as one who has a responsibility to the future generations and will no longer feel that he has something to prove to other men or, women. Who he has become will be evident to all around him. He has honored the gift and made a sacrifice in gratitude.
Why is it important?
We lead by example. Our children mimic us. If a child is brought up in an environment of competitiveness between his parents, he will repeat that in his own relationships. A young girl who hears her mother complain or go to bed sick every month when her moon comes will repeat it. And then, another generation will carry on a negative behavior that could have been turned in a more positive and healthy direction.
The point is...
Women, we don’t have to be like men. We don’t have to be like each other. We are perfectly beautiful as we are. We don’t have to do men’s work to prove we’re strong. We prove that in childbirth. We don’t have to have the biggest house or the most expensive clothes to be successful. We are successful when our child’s temperature is back to normal because we were up all night doing sponge baths. We don’t have to feel bad when our moon comes. We just need to whisper “thank you for this gift” and then eat a chocolate or take a bubble bath. We are incredible beings who have the strength and courage to push life from within us and the tenderness to kiss away a boo-boo. We have the capacity to be bright, articulate, funny, and a force to be reckoned with. There is no competition that can threaten us. We were given the ultimate gift. Appreciate and honor it!
Men, you don’t need to feel superior or inferior to women. You are different but equal. The Creator made sure of it. You have a different job to do. Do it well. Provide for your family. Be an example to your children. Be loyal and supportive of their mother and let the children see you cry. There is no shame in tears. Teach them compassion by being compassionate. Teach them to face a challenge with confidence, not with arrogance. You are just as responsible for the children as your wife. She could not have done it with you. Own it.
We are equal partners in this thing called life.
© 2012 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.