Camille Paglia continues to offer me “food for thought” as she reflects on the feminist movement in our day. She is not afraid to be critical of other feminists. I thought of my mother, while recently reading her observation of women in the 20’s and 30’s. “The bold new women of that period did not insult or denigrate men. They admired what men had done and simply demanded the opportunity to show that women could match or surpass it. One of my persistent quarrels with second-wave feminism is how male-bashing became its default mode from the start. Movements often attract fanatics or borderline personalities, and that’s exactly what happened. Too many damaged women with bitter gripes against men took over feminist discourse.”
My mother and for that matter, my mother-in-law were strong women. My mother used to tell me, “Alan, I am not a shrinking violet.” During the depression she cared for herself and sister alone. My memories are of my mother during the 40’s and 50’s. My parents ran a “ma and pop” grocery store in a small town in northern Michigan (Negaunee). She had to work hard, carrying a lot of responsibilities, beside being a mother and housewife. She lived with the heart ache of alcohol in our family. She was the religious glue in our family of four (one sister). She gave me the “tough love” I needed. I credit her with toughening up my “soft” side, helping me to become a man.
I have often referred to the “father wound.” But we also have to come to terms with our relationship to our mother. Like many men I was “overmothered.” My mother set the emotional tune in our family causing me to internalized a “female mode” of feeling. In my 20’s and 30’s I found healing for my masculine soul with the emotional bondages I had from my “emotionally strong” mother. I learned to honor my mother and love her for who she was, a strong, willful and caring woman. In this regard I remind every man reading this blog to honor your father and mother. It is vital for a good life. “Honor your father and mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Deut. 5:16). I thank God for my strong mother, along with a wife who is “ascending” in her new feminine strength. I also see unique feminine strength in my daughter and two daughter-in-laws.
Referring to her new book, “Free Women, Free Men,” Paglia contends, “women can never be truly free until they let men too be free – which means that men have every right to determine their own identities, interests, and passions without intrusive surveillance and censorship by women with their own political agenda.” I say a hearty amen. This is a very insightful observation concerning gender relationship in the days to come. Simply put, we men have to do our own inner work in become secure in our masculine soul, while allowing women to find peace for themselves. Strong, secure men and women are the hope of the future in the gender wars
Here is my advise. First, find healing for our masculine soul in the company of other men and mentors. Secondly, celebrate the uniqueness of male and female in the image of God. Thirdly, show “servant love” and compassion for women wounded by other men and fourthly, on the behalf of men be willing to ask for forgiveness for how men have treated women in the past.