My Anger at Men

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“Insecure people can be vicious.”—A Course in Miracles

What began as an angry outburst ended with a stunning revelation.

My Man and I were watching Law & Order on TV. There was one scene where 4 female detectives were chasing down the bad guys, about to solve the case.

And My Man, who is utterly supportive of me, says: “Hey, how come it’s all women on screen? Are there any men in this show?”

I was aghast. “I don’t believe you just said that,” I exclaimed, smoke coming out my nostrils.

Was My Man a closet chauvinist? He clearly didn’t like watching all these women in power. I had never seen this side of him before.

I was pissed. He had no idea why.

I tried to explain his comment was yet another example of women being marginalized, minimized by men.   Something I’ve lived with my whole life. Something I’ve been working so hard to change. Something that’s caused me a lot of pain.

He fell silent for a few minutes, quietly pondering his reaction. I never expected what he said next. I know, for a fact, he didn’t either.

“I don’t have a problem with powerful women,” he explained softly. “The problem is that if women get too much power, men will have too little.  Then there’s no place left for a man to be a man.”

We were both quiet for a bit (stunned may be the better word), then he continued. “I’m afraid if it’s not a man’s world, I’ll be playing the previous role women had, a  diminished role.   I don’t want to be in a diminished role.”

At that moment, I felt My Man could be speaking for millions of others.  Behind his dismissive remark was a deep insecurity, albeit unconscious.

Suddenly my anger at chauvinism morphed into compassion for males.  How many other men are threatened  by powerful women, as if there’s only so much power to go around?

Believe me, I’m not making excuses for misogyny or gender discrimination.  But this little tiff got me thinking.

I’ve been so focused on empowering women. Perhaps it’s time to educate our men. Clearly, they’re as afraid of our power as we are.

Men need to know we’re not seeking domination. That’s not how we work. We genuinely want partnership. We want to share power, not usurp it.

I’ll tell you one thing…my little outburst has led to some fascinating discussions.  I’d love  your comments. Have you ever had a similar experience with men in your life?

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Comments & Feedback

  • equality is the issue at stake, really… not power. how many scenes of law & order in the past 20 years have been void of a female presence??

    i don’t think you overreacted, and obviously you’re both evolved enough humans to go from reaction to response to conversation.

    like it or not, men have held the position of dominance for centuries. of course they – as a consciousness – don’t want to be table-turned into the submissives nor the oppressed. And i don’t think that women necessarily want to dominate. All we really want is to be on the same playing field. We want the same amount of power, the same amount of pay for the same amount of work, the same recognition for our contributions to the world, the same opportunities to improve our lives and those of our families…

    it’s not rocket science.
    and as you say, Barbara, it’s not like there’s a limited amount of power. And i think men are not wrong for feeling threatened & insecure – the radical feminist movement has given plenty of cause for that. But the equalists among us (on both sides of the fence) strive for sameness without losing our identities in the process. I don’t want to be a man, or take a “man’s job” or any of those other things. i simply want to be free & able to be, do, have or say the same things that men can, without fear of being labelled something other than “woman.”

    partnership is precisely it, as you say. my favourite quote, by luciano di crescenzo, sums it up – “We are, each of us, angels with only one wing, thus we can only fly embracing each other.”

    there’s plenty of room on the field for everyone. and we’ll get ahead as a species much more successfully if we go there together, as equals.

  • model321

    Dear Barbara,

    I have been pondering this very thought over the last few days! I am a survivor of domestic violence at the hands of a person who made me economically dependent (and afraid to leave for fear of starvation and homelessness), and have been slowly (and sometimes painfully) learning to take total control of my money and rebuild a secure foundation for myself, my career and my future.

    As I find myself wanting to get back into a relationship (make it a healthy, balanced and financially secure one, please!), I consider the possibility that I may well be the major bread winner, and I am forced to examine my thoughts about money and relationships and power and how I can share myself with a partner without resorting to power trips or emaional blackmail.

    Your books, website and blog have been a tremendous resource for me as I make my way. I hope to someday to be at one of your workshops. It would be increduble to hear you speak!

    Thank you for today’s message,

    aka model321

    • Thank you, Leigh, so much for taking the time to post your comments and share your kinds words. I love knowing that my experience has helped you. And you know something…you’re going to do the same for others. You sound like such a strong and determined women. As you heal, so will you heal others.

  • I read this article with interest as my husband and I have had this sort of discussion many times. I would not say that I am a bra-burner, but am supremely grateful for the work done by our foremothers in the arena of women’s liberation/freedom and equality.

    However, recently, the tide has been shifting. I read on Kevin Hogan’s blog the other day that most of the unemployed in the US are Men. Women are getting more jobs, getting promoted more, and often getting more education and opportunities than their male counterparts. (That may be because they are getting paid less and are more likely to appreciate being a in a job – and not complain or feel entitled to a raise/promotion etc…those are just my opinions though…)

    But my question is: Has the pendulum swung too far?
    Are men becoming “women”?

    Men do feel marginalized.

    For example, in my dept at work of 17 people, there are only 3 men – and one, of course, is a manager/director (somethings never change?)

    In the meantime, I increasingly know women who are the primary breadwinners (albeit most of them are Underearners)…and often end up resenting their position of Power in the household. Especially if they are trying to balance being a Mother as well.

    More and more men are incresingly staying home with the children because their wives are earning more than they can in the market.

    In my personal sphere I know of only Men getting laid off from jobs in the recent supposed “crisis”.

    So if this is truly the case, how can the pendulum balance?

    The idea with all nature is that there is a balance – feminity and masculinity are not ego-driven elements, not just physical – there is a spiritual and emotional component that needs to be healed.

    Blessings and Light!

    Sara Adams

    • You make some great points, Sara. I agree The pendulum IS swinging…and I predict it’ll be pretty rough ride until we figure out how to share power and become true partners. The exciting part, we’re witnessing a true platonic shift between the sexes. I have faith we’re all moving in the right direction. Thanks again for your great comments!

  • Dear Barbara,

    yes, I have experienced situations like the one you described often and I see it happen to other women.
    For me it started at home where my father couldn´t stop himself from making vile comments on women frequently – it hurt but in time I understood that he was plainly scared, being surrounded by his super-achiever wife and three bright daughters.
    In my opinion men´s fear of women in power is a result of their own way of thinking which tends to be hierarchial and competitive.
    If only they knew that women aren´t interested in power to then suppress men, knew that women are team-players and tend to keep everybody´s wellbeing in mind rather than their own pole position, they could be much more relaxed about current changes.
    I´m not saying that women are angels (especially after we all grew up in a patriarchial system) – here in Austria there are some scary female politicians at work to prove that – but I certainly think that life for women and men will become the better the more powerful women make their impact on society.

    So thank you for your interesting post, and foremost for your amazing work with women (and men),

  • Hi, Barbara: I’ve just sent you a quick note on FB. I’m a professional writer with a request. Pls drop me a line at my personal email address! Best –

    Nicole Parton Fisher

  • Diane

    I know that time has passed since the original blog, but I’d like to put in my 2 cents… Each post was a great addition to the discussion. I am trying to break away from an oppressive marriage (emotional, verbal, financial abuses)so I relate to Leigh’s comments well.
    Back to the original “Law and Order” scenario… I just want to offer the suggestion that mainstream media does not offer the “women in power” just for the sake of offering “real women” on tv. Marketing “women” is frequently to get men to view for the sake of objectification. Marketing to women is for the sake of getting market share of women’s spending.

    But, bottom line is that men can be much more insecure than they want to acknowledge and let on, (except for your partner, Barbara. It’s hard for them to admit their insecurities to their women, or to other men.

    I don’t care for generalizations, too much, because there is so much need for respect for individuals, but one can’t deny some patterns in the different genders. I recall a family therapist’s book – not so much as a counter to Gray’s “Venus vs Mars” theories, as much as to address the similarities. He called it “Women are from Earth, Men are from Earth” and made a very important point about the common needs of men and women: That people of either gender both desire and need certain things in life for overall wellness and happiness: We all need love, affection, security (material, emotional, etc), purpose.
    (I liked the concept of his book, but he was a terrible counselor – one of severalI had gone to who witnessed verbal abuse before his eyes and did not call it out. Thank Heaven for authors like Patricia Evans and Lundy Bancroft!)

    All interesting insights.


  • Nigel

    I think you need help, and I feel sorry for your partner. Such a small remark stirs such instant anger and self ritcheousness? He needs to run from the insecure bully that you appear to be( despite your progressive cause). And the lame emails responses …its the blind leading the blind. em

    I have never heard of you but scanning your website you seem to have made your living talking about equality but scanning, and jumping on finding any differences to prove your biased points.

    Women earning more is great by the way- no guy I know hates it. The next step in this evolution is women paying men alimony, and child support, losing the home they worked hard for. Now THAT’s equality!

  • Barbara, I loved this blog. It brings up so many complicated issues. My entire life I have been a sister, mother, wife and coworker to many hard-working and well intentioned men. I think they get confused and overwhelmed just as women do. The dismissive comments and actions men make seem often to be based on some unfounded fear. In a perfect world women could be prosperous and men could appreciate the abundance we can provide, ultimately providing a better life for all involved! Unfortunately I still see women who hide their talents and power and don’t fully appreciate the talents and potential in other women. Women unfortunately can undermine one another, thus making it difficult for all of us to have access to the many resources available to thrive. I am so thrilled that there are wonderful programs available such as the one you created. I read your book and have shared it with many other women as well.

  • Ann

    Recently I saw the play Venus in Fur and I believe it addressed this very issue. The male author of the book with the same title contended that women either wanted to be dominated or dominating. The actress who was auditioning for the role to play the female lead (its a a play within a play) closed the play performance with the point that neither one of those were options she wanted to take. Partnership is what women want. Relatedness is our specialty!

    What a wonderful world it will be!

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Meet Barbara Huson

When a devastating financial crisis rocked her world, Barbara Huson knew she had to get smart about money… and she did. Now, she wants to empower every women to take charge of their money and take charge of their lives! She’s doing just that with her best-selling books, life changing retreats and private financial coaching.

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