Monday, 31 May 2010

True Equality!

My energies at this stage in my life are preoccupied elsewhere, and I have not felt much inclination towards keeping this blog going. I am sure I will come back to it later when my life has settled but am apologizing for some delay... I am now in the midst of turmoil in that I'm moving countries and getting married. My previous entry was probably a bit soppy and I don't want to go on sounding insipid or trite! My focus has changed and I'm not sure how it will translate into more philosphical musings.

I recalled having written some things on equality in the past. I was in a lot of despair at the time because of the whole dating game that I experienced as so trying and depressing. I will pick out some central viewpoints  and comment on them from my present perspective, which has shifted since I met my fiancée. I hope to take the discussion even further in the future as this is a very exciting subject matter.

"I come from a country where men and women had to work side by side in a rather equal fashion in order to survive the harsh climate. At least that's how equality in our country is usually being explained. Note that Finland is among the few countries that has a female president"

While this is true, it has also been clear to me that equality in Scandinavia has been taken to an extreme or to be more exact; is at this point in time it's ruled by certain arid, set concepts rather than true, feeling-based respect towards our differences as men and women. I found while dating that men in this part of the world had a tendency to either dismiss any form of gallantry towards the woman or even complained that they should have the same rights as women! This was to me a rhetorical reply rather than a genuine response from one human to another.

I saw a documentary by a Finnish guy that brought out the fact that gender studies at the University still refuse to acknowledge that there are any significant differencies between the ways men and women function. He demonstrated through his empirical research that men solve problems by setting up hierarchies and competitive situations while women prefer to negotiate on a basis of equality. While this to me seems self-evident (and more or less the message in the popular Venus and Mars - books) it was baffling to learn that authorities still wish to ignore this. It was also suggested that women have trouble asking for a higher salary and feeling worthy of it. I can certainly relate to this, though in other areas of life. Being a female go-getter is probably less common than finding an assertive male, though at the same time we mustn't forget that exceptions usually confirm the rules.  

In my present relationship, we have acknowledged all gender differences from the very start and treated them as objective facts that we can joke about. It doesn't mean we don't take them seriously too, but only in relation to our need to fit together and work as a team. Many of our strengths and weaknesses are tied to our personalities or our physical condition, but a great number of them are also evidently tied to our gender. We are exploring these and trying to find a way of complementing each other that is genuine and respectful. I am very lucky to have met someone who is motivated to do this and doesn't hold his own activities or products as so sacred that they cannot be shared with another. His intelligence is such that he is able to grasp the higher meaning of teamwork within a relationship.

As an example, we curated an exhibition together and found that we were able to do a very good job as long as we did it rapidly without concerns of the ego. We have found that as soon as there is a sense of threat or accusation in one way or another, things go awry. (Luckily we aren't stubbornly holding onto matters of principle, which can be an efficient way of killing a relationship). I tend to make undue assumptions about the way men "always do things" because of bad past experience and he gets very upset when he feels accused of things he haven't done and isn't about to do. I am also the one moving to a different country and so I am quite overwhelmed by the prospect of fitting in and accepting all that is his. So far, we've mostly lived on my territory with my things. I can easily feel threatened as I have visions of how I want to lead my life, decorate my home, and so on. It's easy in these instances to forget about all the things we actually agree on and focus more on the differencies - especially if one doesn't quite understand what drives and motivateds the other. On the other hand, by testing these things and communicating them we are learning. I should also add, that I realized I have to stand up for myself more in order not to be treated in sexist ways by a society that easily sees the man as the leader - in our relationship, we are equal artistically speaking as well and I noticed that people didn't quite grasp the idea that we might be able to work as a team.

"I don't deny that my way of expressing myself can be perceived as strong by some people, but I am by no means a bully. I am not trying to get the upper hand, only have equal rights with everyone else. I am tender and giving but won't waste my efforts on anyone who only wants to reinforce their ego. I can't afford wasting my precious energy, as I don't have that much of it (at least for the time being). The fact that men have complained about the strong will of mine tells me that they have not been very strongwilled individuals themselves"

Well, I see myself as a bit of a paradox, as I have strong tendencies of nurturing but also refuse to be treated with disrespect or made into a doormat. I get very upset when I don't feel understood. But of course, to a great extent this has occurred in my life because not very many people have been able to relate to me on a deeper level. It takes a very intuitive and empathic man with a whole other set of values that aren't quite the norm to grasp what I'm about. It seems that I am indeed appreciated for the reasons I want to be appreciated, and that is for all the reasons by which I am different from most other people. I also need to add though, that my partner has no hang ups whatsoever about social roles and is also able to see my feminine essence rather than the way I represent womanhood within the framework of society. This applies to how I feel about my partner as well.The latter is a sense of the complementary qualities of yin and yang that is our basic working theory.

"One thing that I've noticed in my own life is that men want to be in charge of how a relationship develops. It starts with them deciding when to write or call, how to meet, and where to develop the contact. This to me is extremely stressful because for one thing I find it unacceptable and unfair, and on the other hand it wears on my over-stressed nervous system. I easily break down like I did the other day if I have to put up with a state of not knowing what the deal is"

I have found, that I actually want a man to be in charge a lot of the time but only if he truly respects me. Only now do I feel respected and also valued for the things that I am able to do, and so I have trust. I also have trust because I feel that my partner executes projects more or less the way I would too, and so there is seldom any conflict of interests. This helps me mellow out and allow him to take care of many things that are difficult for me. Of course, some people have to learn about compromise in some big way, but to me too many differences would detract from what I consider important. The things I know he's better at taking care of than me are especially things of a practical or physical nature, as well as technical issues. I am not physically equipped for many things. When it comes to technical problems I have realized that it comes more naturally to men to deal with those, and though women can certainly learn how to tackle them, it's often not worth all the trouble. I suppose I in return give him what he feels he needs, as this he tells me very often!

"I wish that men would realize how emotional women can sometimes be without it meaning half as much as they think. Secondly, I wish they would realize that their actions cause us to fret and ruminate for ages afterwards. Women spend an enormous amount of time trying to understand men, but when do they ever care to understand us? In other words; how can we ever reach true equality if one part of the population is not interested in investing any efforts into truly understanding the other part? This leads me to the core of my thinking, which is that rather than choosing sides and thinking in terms of either-or the way we are used to, we should really try and embrace both-and. So even though I'm a bit sad and nervous about the way men so easily dismiss me as "difficult" I still hope to give each individual the benefit of doubt. But my refusal to be submissive is probably going to cost me a lot of things that belong to a normal life on Earth"

I think it takes a bit for a man to realize that women often over-react. However, if they are willing to find a way of approaching us that doesn't appear patronizing, it can work out just fine. An intelligent man will see the meaningfulness in developing this kind of understanding and may even see it as a spiritual quest. I am lucky in that my partner is interested in how people function psychologically speaking and so there is always plenty to talk about. I always knew, that I would not be able to live with someone who didn't meet me in this area of life. I think that this form of curiousity defines a higher level of intelligence, but then I am biased, of course!

We do sometimes argue because neither of us wishes to be a doormat. We do, however, think that there are ways around it. First, we must realize that neither is ever going to be submissive and accept this as a fact. Then, it's a question of trusting the other not to be manipulative. I can see the temptation to manipulate another but am trying to catch myself every time. I also know that he's able to detect any such behaviour as a result of past experience and an analytical mind. It takes time to get to a place of true trust. This leads to the feeling of being respected and from this, more confidence and less fear of being put down in any way follows naturally. It takes effort, because you must always keep the other person in mind. You don't make important decisions without consulting with your partner. You try and remember the ways in which your partner complements your weaknesses and allow them to fill up that space for you. You treat your relationship as a kind of business relationship that extends indefinitely outwards in all the directions, in ways in which you can express love towards the other. At its best, it can encompass all of life's areas and help you evolve towards a greater sense of fulfillment as an individual as well as a couple.

In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with acknowledging your partner as complementary and in some deeper way as your other half. As always, I'd like to finish with a statement about the importance of seeing paradoxes as an expression of the greater truth about reality. I believe, that we can be whole unto ourselves as well as whole within a relationship. In other words, you can be a whole and a half at the same time. If you sense any truth whatsoever in this, I challenge you to think of ways in which this is possible! I believe this is for each and every one of us to find out for themselves. I would suggest, that this is the secret of the sort of equality this world will see more of in the future.

Artwork: "Swan Play" digital photography, copyrighted by author 2010. All rights reserved.