A story I've alluded to before, popped into my mind. It involves a little dog who was adopted from an animal shelter. Loud noises always caused the dog to panic and on this particular occassion, the dog manages to escape its safe new home, to start running.
Now, all too often, the response of the adopted "mother" here could be to yell at the dog, to try to explain how wrong the dog is to run off, even to punish it for running away, for not obeying when it was called. Or, the loving response is, to hug the dog close, comfort it, soothe away the fear and gently bring it back home.
Knowing the back-story, knowing that the dog had been considered practically "un-adoptable" because it had suffered horrific abuse before coming to the animal shelter, the adopted "mother" understood the dog's fear, understood that the only remedy is consistent, unfailing love.
Maybe it is because I was recently bitten by a protective mama dog. Or maybe it is because I had a dream the other night that I was a stray dog myself. Anyhow, the story popped into my head because I was remembering a question my son often asked me when he was growing up. He asked why he should have to pay for the mistakes other men had made in relation to women, why his intentions would be questioned, why he could not relate to women simply as himself, that depending on the circumstance, women would mistrust or even fear him just because he is a man.
In contemplating the story, it occurred to me that in the relationships between men and women, the dog could be a description of either men or women. Either a man or a woman can run away from love out of panic triggered by the fear of something in our history that has shaped us.
And it's just that unknowable history of a stray dog in an animal shelter that is so similar to the can of worms in our personal and cultural back-stories, that can make us re-live history over and over again.
But we know a little bit of that back-story between men and women. We know men profit from the theme of aggression and violence against women (look at some of the most popular video games ). We know that men profit from their position of power. We know that men and women assume a certain order to life, business and personal relationships based on the stereotypes of men in power. And the story isn't over by a long shot.
However, uncovering that story is only the beginning of the healing that I believe is absolutely essential between men and women. And I'm surprised again and again at how difficult even that is, uncovering the story, being able to tell it, being able to hear it.
And yet, here and there, I encounter hopeful signs:
Why the Global Women's Crusade Needs Men
Labels: women's issues