Bert: This conference coming up focuses on mothers, wives
and lovers. Why don't we start with mothers? How did you get into
the focus on Mother? Robert has been doing the Great Mother conferences
for well over a decade. Michael has written a book, Mothers,
Sons and Lovers. How did you men get into Mother work?
Michael: All my answers to questions like this are both
personal and professional. I had a mother who was a very complex
woman. We had a very complex relationship, sometimes violent,
very loving, but very painful. She loved me more than anyone in
the world, but also caused me more pain than anyone in the world.
I carried that legacy coming out of childhood and I knew it needed
work. I began to be able to do that work, starting in therapy
in my early twenties. That continued, on and off, for years.
Professionally, at the same time I was studying mythology. At
that time, anyone working on the cutting edge in mythology was
studying Goddess mythology. What I was studying was my own mother,
and I didn't realize it!
Those were the two themes for me, twenty years ago. Mothers,
Sons and Lovers, then, comes out of years of both personal
and professional work. I first had to come to grips with the idea
that Goddess mythology wasn't the only cutting-edge mythology
out there. This happened, for me, in hearing Robert Bly speak
in the early '80s. I studied that for a long time. By the time
I was able to write Mothers, Sons and Lovers, after 15
years of this work, I was able to put the personal and the professional
Bert: Writing the book was something of a struggle for
Michael: It was a big struggle. I had done a great deal
of work, and my mother and I had done a lot of resolution. I had
the arrogant notion that my Mother Work was done. It was an arrogant
notion because when I was writing the book, all of a sudden all
sorts of things came back up, for both my mother and me. We have
a very close relationship now-as close as it can be when she and
I are too much alike. The relationship blew up again when I started
to write the book. We ended up having to do a lot of work together,
and I went back into therapy for a while.
John: A couple of things come up for me. One is that a
couple or three years ago, at a Mendocino Men's Conference, several
men came up and said, "We've been working on our Father stuff
for a long time. When are we going to start working on our Mother
stuff?" I thought, "Oh, shit! That means I have to explore
that." I felt like Michael felt, that I had already done
that. But, yet, I knew deep down that I really hadn't, because
I hadn't been talking about it at any of the workshops and gatherings
I was at.
About the same time, my book At My Father's Wedding came
out. That explores the relationship between father and son. My
own mother read that book and called me. She said, "I feel
you have yet to do with me what you have done with your father."
"Oh shit! I have to hear it from my own mother!"
So then I began doing the work consciously, in therapy. I also
got a contract with Bantam to write a book about it, called Stepping
Into the Mystery. For almost three years I've been working
on some version of that book. I turned in one version and it was
accepted. But then I looked at it and decided not to release it.
I knew that it was not as true as it needed to be. It was the
book my mother could read and not be offended at all. Not that
that was my intention. It was just so sanitized that it was clear
that, unconsciously, I was writing, not through the Mother complex,
but with the Mother complex still having a hold on me. So I told
my publisher I was not going to let that out, and I wrote another
completely different version of it, from scratch. When I finished
it, I saw that that didn't work, either.
It is my personal struggle and task to come to terms with the
impact of the emotional incest that I survived from my mother.
It has affected every relationship that I have had, including
my relationship with God. This has been a natural outgrowth of
my own work, but it happened to be in sync with the needs of many
men around the country, as they've expressed the need to work
on the Mother themselves.
Bert: Your experience in writing a book your mother would
approve of, and this reluctance to say things that Mother would
not approve of, doesn't seem to be true of fathers.
John: It's a cultural taboo, in almost every culture, to
say anything bad about one's mother. In the South, where I grew
up, if you couldn't start a fight with someone any other way,
you would say something about their Mama. It is ground down into
our cells and bones that you just don't do this. In my case, my
mother looked like the victim, and my father the perpetrator.
It was easier to deal with the perpetrator than the victim. It
took me years to realize that a great deal of my feelings of not
being safe in the world centered around the fact that my mother
did not protect me. A great deal of my spiritual dysfunction is
due to my mother's dysfunctional spirituality and religiosity.
That, coupled with the fact that the way I came to understand
my father was mostly through my mother's perception of him, led
to my ending up being pretty severely damaged in many ways by
my mother. Worst of all, this played itself out in all my relationships
with women and has caused me in many ways to confuse God, mother
and lover, and what I'm supposed to be getting from each. That's
a big part of my struggle now, today, as we speak.
Robert: I was my mother's favorite, and so I speak for
her in the world. The men's stuff is a sideline. This is a recent
poem I wrote to her:
What can we say
To each other?
That we are nothing
When the Man
Leaves the room?
That each of us is bound
By our breathing
To this troubled place?
That I am a son,
And you a mother,
And that someone
Has come between
Us, so that we
What has saved us.
I don't mean "saved" in a religious sense, but rather
saved from an early death brought about by loneliness or isolation.
Maybe when we move into the father's world, between five and ten,
we forget who has saved us.
I know some men and women have been saved by their fathers. That
is true. I was inspired by him, but not saved-yet we have to talk
from where we are, or were. I have severe trouble if I try to
speak of the dark side of my mother, so I know what Michael and
John are talking about.
Michael: I know that I wrestled with the reluctance to
speak ill of mother when I wrote Mothers, Sons and Lovers.
To a certain extent, I still think about it. I wrote a book that
was a journey of healing, but less of a personal book, so I had
an easier row to hoe than John did. As I faced the decision, I
thought that Mom's still alive, and we have a healthy relationship
right now. I decided I would write the kind of book I'm good at,
a journey of healing I can lead men through, and help women to
understand men better. I decided I wouldn't talk much about myself.
It'll end up that things between my mother and me would be okay,
and the kids could still have their grandmother. If I really opened
up that Pandora's box, it would have destroyed the family.
The similarity between John and me isn't as much between Stepping
Into the Mystery and Mothers, Sons and Lovers, as it
is between Stepping Into the Mystery and the novel about
my childhood that I've been trying to write for the last eight
years. That one has driven me crazy. It has haunted me. I've written
it so many times, successfully in a therapeutic way, but unsuccessfully
for the publishing world. In the last year I've let it go.
John: That's what has happened to me, too. I've literally
abandoned the idea of publishing the book because of what you've
said. Someone reminded me the other day that I wrote Writing
From the Body primarily for myself, and only secondarily for
an audience or a publisher. When I finished the two versions of
Stepping Into the Mystery, therapeutically I felt more
complete than I had ever felt before. It has positively impacted
my relationships with women. But I didn't get a book out of it.
I've put it aside, and I'm working on something else.
Michael: That's what I'm doing in fiction. We feel like
we've wrung that inner conflict dry.
Bert: You think! (laughter)
John: That's what I want to be clear about. Mine is absolutely
and totally a struggle today, even though it's no longer taking
the form of writing a book. The struggle that's implicit in the
act of separating from a mother who I was merged with is still
as ongoing today as it was three years ago. I have a whole belief
system that says where merger exists, separation is almost impossible.
Until separation can exist, union with both a lover and a God
cannot exist. I haven't done the act of separation yet, to the
degree I very much feel I need to. The struggle is no longer being
carried out through writing a book, but it is being played out
Robert: That's a scary remark. "A slow separation
from our mother is being played out through divorces." If
that's so, there must be a lot of that slowness, because the number
of divorces is rising. I think the slow separation from mother
is played out also in not advancing beyond the mother.
"If she was wounded, I'll be wounded." "I can't
be more successful than my father and I can't be more happy
than my mother." Sometimes the mother might say to that,
"That's a deal."
I don't remember my mother and I making an agreement to have low
self-esteem, but that's the way it worked out. You can hear the
echo of the agreement in the opening lines of the poem I recited
earlier. I am two people: one assured and rather happy like my
father; the other self-doubting and enduring like my mother.
Bert: John, can you elaborate on the relationship with
Mother affecting your relationship with God and your spirituality?
John: That was an interesting thing I started to work on
during the course of the book. I realized several years ago that
I had been emotionally incested by my mother, when I read this
wonderful book by Pat Love, The Emotional Incest Syndrome.
So I started to work on that. Then, as I started to explore my
own spiritual life, I realized that I had the spirituality of
a nine-year-old, even though I had been a professor of comparative
religion for ten years. In some ways, developmentally I stopped
when I was about age nine to twelve. My mother had been in charge
of my religious instruction. "John, be a good boy. John,
say your prayers. John, if you don't, you'll go to hell. John,
Jesus is the only way. John, God is a jealous God." All the
beliefs that she had went into me at a cellular level. This was
reinforced by all the ministers we listened to. In our case, they
were Southern Baptists. I'm a recovering Baptist now. About this
time, Bev and I were separating.
All this brought me to start exploring what spiritual abuse I
had received in this process from my mother. I checked into a
treatment center last August, for 16 days, primarily to deal with
spiritual abuse. The treatment center I went to has a national
reputation for that specialty.
Bert: What is the spiritual dimension that was missing,
when you describe yourself as a nine-year-old spiritually, and
being a "good boy"?
John: Intellectually, I had the spirituality of a 44-year-old
through my life experience. But emotionally and psychologically
I did not, and still do not, trust God. I did not and do not trust
God to provide a certain level of safety for me. I still have
to work on this. It's very important to feel safe in this world.
About the only way one can feel safe in this world is to feel
that he or she has some kind of higher power that is benevolent
and loving. The truth is that many of us don't have that. In the
book I'm working on now, I describe Him as the Lord of Leaving.
The Lord of Taking Away. So much was taken away in my childhood,
which I attributed to God being angry at me. This is a nine-year-old's
view of God.
Through this treatment and the work I had done, I realized that
what I had been doing reflected an expression I use in the book
I'm working on. Heaven help the man who confuses his mother, his
lover, and his God. I've had that confusion, because I couldn't
separate out from my mother. I would overlay her onto my lover,
both onto my God, and God onto both of them.
Robert: There's a lot of confusion and grief in that last
sentence, John. A lot of content, as well. I first ran into those
confusions set down in a book of Robert Johnson's, Lying With
the Heavenly Woman. He lists, I think, six entirely different
visible or invisible feminine creatures that a man sees when he
looks inside himself. One is our personal mother, another is our
image of our mother. Very different! Two sons will have the same
mother, but each brother's image of her is often utterly distinct.
It's important to treat our mother differently than our image
of her. Then there may be a woman, an actual woman, whom he loves
and feels desire for; then there is a spiritual woman, invisible
and loving, who is attracted to us. We are to make love with the
first, the actual one, and not with the second, the spiritual
one! In medieval stories, the instruction is: when you're in bed
with the invisible woman, put a sword between the two of you.
She is damaged if you try to possess her. That's fine stuff.
The invisible, spiritual woman is not "God," and yet
there's some Divinity there. All divinities are easily confused
with our mother. Nothing is easier for a man than to imagine a
female goddess. One of the reasons for the development of a male
God is to separate the idea of God from the idea of our mother.
I don't know if that plan is working or not, and I don't know
if it ever worked as well for women as it-sometimes-does for men.
Plotinus nursed until he was eight years old. Maybe that's why
he needed the abstract ideas of Plato.
Bert: Michael, is this ringing any chords with you?
Michael: Yes, absolutely. The energy with which our physical
and emotional bodies, which are all one body, attempt to love
a woman, is the same energy with which we attempt to love God.
If we're wounded, we're going to project the same wounds onto
a woman or, if we're gay, onto another man, as we will onto God.
John keyed in on it when he talked about trust. You have to have
faith in a higher power, or in God, in order to feel solid and
sacrosanct in the world. You have to have the same energy of faith
in a woman, or in a partner.
When I made the joke earlier about studying Goddess energy and
realizing I was studying my mother, I really meant that. I could
feel that the same energy with which I was loving my mother and
trying to have faith and trust in her, I was projecting onto all
these goddesses of myth. When I attempted to love a woman, I was
doing the same thing. What happened for me, which was different
than it was for John, was that my parents brought me up in many
different religious traditions, including Hindu, Baha'i and Jewish.
When I came to be an adult, I began to feel viscerally that I
was caught in a fear loop. This happened in my spiritual life
as well as in my love life.
The direction I went was to back away from women and explore spirituality.
I didn't relate to a woman for a year. I was in terrible trouble
with my girlfriend at the time. In fact, this is now a process
I teach. I try to encourage my clients, when they find themselves
stuck in this place, to back away and take their internal energy
back from a woman or partner. I encourage them to journal, to
pray, to develop spiritual rituals and disciplines. What has worked
for me, and for many clients, is that we regain a spiritual discipline,
because the impingement and enmeshment that happened with Mom
destroys the discipline of relating to another. For me, this is
similar to destroying the discipline of relating to the Divine.
We can't relate to the Divine unless we involve ourselves in a
profound spiritual discipline.
John: Yes, that's right.
Robert: By the way, I think that pause, accompanied by
spiritual disclosure, is exactly what Robert Johnson suggests
in order to resolve some of the confusions and "learn to
treat each interior feminine figure differently."
Michael: What I did, and what I teach, is for men to back
away and develop a spiritual discipline. Rituals of faith and
prayer. I think this is something AA also does. After a year of
no sex, no relationships, I came back. Shortly after that I met
I agree with everything John has said. I think the enmeshment
in childhood nearly destroys one's ability to trust in a God.
Often we get caught up in institutional structures. I see this
in the Promise Keepers. (Ed.-The Promise Keepers is a Christ-centered,
nondenominational, multiracial organization committed to training
men how to be responsible to God, to their wives and children,
to their churches and to each other. The Washington Post
has described it as "a conservative Christian revival movement
challenging feminism, gay rights and major aspects of liberal
society." Our July magazine was devoted to issues around
the Promise Keepers.)
They're basically the outgrowth of a 2,000-year-old institution.
Their response to the issues we're grappling with is to say that
we have to focus on family and get back to traditional, biblical
values. As you know, I've been supportive of some of the things
they've done, like focusing on the importance of family. I've
also been publicly critical of some of the things they've done.
I think they're pursuing some of the same goals, from a religious,
institutional perspective, that we're pursuing through the folk
tradition. I think the men's movement and the work we do at conferences,
like our conference next October, is coming much more from a folk
tradition. We use folk tales, and the men's movement is much more
of a grassroots movement.
John: I'd like to add one thing and be very straightforward
about it, because I'm very concerned. The desire for the direction
we're moving in is a universal desire, but the Promise Keepers
and right-wing folks are basically still regressive in their attempts
to create more adult relationships. They're actually still adolescent,
or even infantile, because of their literalism.
Michael: I totally agree.
John: Our stories, which emanate out of folk traditions,
and certainly, in my case, personal narrative, move us in a progressive
direction towards adult relationship. I'm saying we have the same
desires, but the directions are different. The regressive direction
that the Promise Keepers are taking, and Newt Gingrich is taking
with his talk about bringing back orphanages, is very dangerous.
Contrary to what some of the "progressive" feminists
believe about Robert's, Michael's and my work, it's a much safer
and much more mature forward motion, with more clear thinking
and clear-sightedness than what I'm afraid people like the Promise
Keepers are offering.
Bert: You were talking earlier about your mother leaving
you in a nine-year-old spirituality.
John: That comes back to the literalism I was just talking
about. For example, the old saying "spare the rod and spoil
the child" is taken so literally that they don't understand
the symbolic and linguistic roots of the very words of the passages
in the text. The rod was used to rescue sheep, not to beat
the shit out of them or make them stop being sheep. It was to
pull them out of dangerous places. It's the same rod that's used
in the prayer, "thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me."
The literalists take something like that and do very damaging,
regressive things with it.
Bert: Michael, earlier you were talking about withdrawing
from enmeshment in relationships with women and devoting a year
to spiritual discipline. But a lot of our readers are married
or deeply involved in a relationship, and are not ready to back
away for a year.
Michael: I think that's where Mothers, Sons and Lovers
comes in. What happened for me during and after this process of
pulling away was that I was able to see that mythology was a valuable
tool. I worked with that for a while. I saw a few years ago, when
I was writing Mothers, Sons and Lovers, that I was able
to return to my foundations. For me, this involved getting back
into therapy, making sure I had a spiritual discipline in place,
and then finding a path or a journey to make. So, as I was writing
Mothers, Sons and Lovers, I found that I was again making
the journey in the second half of the book. The journey to separation,
the journey out of entanglement, the journey in which we return
to a sense of the Divine that is separated from our sense of the
Mother. A journey that is no longer dependent on our mother holding
all that Divine Goddess energy. Mothers, Sons and Lovers
does that. It gives men who are in relationships a one-year journey.
But they can stay in relationships.
I then saw that the next step, for me, was to understand love
as a spiritual discipline. In fact, two days before the October
6-8 conference that Robert, John and I are doing here in Spokane,
my book Love's Journey is coming out. That book is about
spiritual discipline. The spiritual discipline of loving a mate.
It deals with the twelve stages of relationships.
I had to work through a journey with my mother, but I wasn't about
to leave my wife. I also needed to write down my sense of love
as a spiritual discipline, which had to be like practicing your
faith. That's what Love's Journey does.
That's why this Northwest Conference on Men and Their Relationships:
Men and Their Mothers, Lovers and Wives is such a dream come true
for me. It brings together those two efforts of mine. And I'm
fortunate enough to have John and Robert come out to work with
me. This is the first time the three of us have worked together,
teaching and telling stories together.
My vision for the conference is to give people a safe place for
renewal, for searching the mysteries and for exploring wisdom.
I think that the thing John keyed into, about the mother and the
Divine, is a big theme in Love's Journey. I have a feeling
that at the conference, we'll follow our energy and end up doing
a lot with God and spirituality.
That was one of the early promises of the men's movement, a promise
to give men a spiritual and sacred place. I think that it is fulfilling
that. Maybe at a conference like this we can stand up and say
that we're going to stand by our principles and say that, yes,
we're involved in spiritual life. A conference like this is a
Robert: I'd like to teach some of the ideas that Elizabeth
Badinter brings forward in her book L'un est L'autre, which
translates in English as The Unopposite Sex. Badinter is
one of the greatest and best known of the French feminists. She
seems to be far ahead of many American feminists, in that she
believes that the gender battle is over. She says, "In most
Western democracies, the patriarchal system has received the coup
de grace in the last two decades. A minute dot on the line
of human evolution, the 1980s have transformed the relations between
men and women in a large part of the world, although we have still
not realized the fact."
She says, "The father has lost his prestige, as Eve has dealt
herself a new hand."
If it's true that Eve has dealt herself a new hand, and "a
time of friendship and freedom has come," we may have a better
chance than people fifty years ago had when they tried to disentangle
themselves from their mothers. If, in the patriarchies, mothers
have all the power inside the house and men have all the power
outside the house, as it was fifty years ago, and for a long time
before that, then we understand how difficult it would be for
men and women to meet in "love," or for the mother and
son to meet in equality. Each had to meet, or fail to meet, the
other in a power situation. There's still some of that, but less.
Bert: As you were speaking of spiritual discipline, you
reminded me of M. Scott Peck's definition of love in The Road
Less Traveled, "the will to extend one's self for the
purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth."
He uses the word "will" deliberately, meaning an application
John: That aspect of will is what I'm writing about now,
though I feel the least qualified of the three of us. Robert has
been married to Ruth for fifteen years. Michael is successfully
married. I'm still out there struggling with this. I just completed
a formalized divorce from a six-year relationship on December
30. Somebody asked me the other day whether I would ever fall
in love again. I said, with no cynicism attached to the answer
at all, "absolutely not." From the vantage point I've
attained from the work I've done, particularly around the mother
issues, I'm very much aware of, and a great believer in, the view
that love is a choice. "Falling" in love is, by nature,
regressive, back into the arms of mother. There are many, many
women (for a heterosexual) or men (for a homosexual) from which
to choose to love, consciously, consistently and conscientiously.
It's no longer even possible for "falling" in love to
be an option for me. The Easterners have a wonderful saying. "You
Americans marry the women you love. We in this culture love the
women we marry." I'm more inclined now to the Eastern direction.
Bert: Malidoma Somé says a very similar thing about
marriage in his village, and about his marriage to Sobonfu. He
was over here when the village elders called him to tell him he
was to marry Sobonfu. He was married in absentia, and it
was months before he was together with her.
John: I feel very strongly about that. Mostly, the love
we have is a mock love for the mother until mature choice, will
and commitment-all the things you and Michael have talked about-are
brought into play.
Michael: One key thing here. is "push-pull" intimacy,
as I talk about in Mothers, Sons and Lovers. Here, one
moment he is intimate and in the next moment he is pulling away.
She does a little thing that neither one of them is consciously
aware of, and it triggers a feeling in him that she's doing something
just like Mom. He then pulls away for a week or two, or a few
days. He works it through, and then he comes back. A couple can
be involved in this push-pull intimacy for only so long, before
they pull further and further away. I deeply believe that a lot
of that is due to the impingement and enmeshment-as John says,
emotional incest-with Mom.
Of course, I want to caution everyone that there's no "mother-bashing"
going on in our conferences. This is all just about the relationship
and the dynamics of it.
John: I agree wholeheartedly. The mother that we're always
wrestling with is the "ghost mother," or the Mother
complex, to use a Jungian term. The biological mother actually
has very little, if anything, to do with this struggle. That needs
to be made very, very clear. All mothers are as much wounded by
their own mothers, their fathers, and the society that perpetuated
that kind of mothering and fathering. By no means is this a slam
against the biological mother. Rather, it's about the mothering,
or lack of mothering, that lives in our bodies and our brains.
Michael: That's very important. The interesting thing that
I find as I do workshops is that as many women as men come. Most
of them are mothers. I hope that women come to this conference,
because the dialogue that I'm hoping for at a conference like
this is not a juvenile dialogue. It's a mature dialogue between
men and women who are ready to come together to resolve some archetypal
conflicts that have existed for thousands of years in male-female
dynamics. Now we're just becoming wise enough, or perceptive enough
John: Or desperate enough
Michael: Or desperate enough to really look at this. We
all know that we've got to do this together. This is one thing
I'm so proud of, in being part of the men's movement, that it's
so much an integrating movement. That push-pull intimacy, and
the other struggles that we get involved in as couples, men and
women need to work on together. Men need to do their work, but
the couples need to come together. The woman, whether she realizes
it or not, is acting out her part, too. She's acting out her stuff
with her dad or her mom, too. They're involved in an enmeshed,
entangled relationship, the foundation for which is laid down
way in the past. It's just like the story "The Enchanted
Ring." Nikolai and Katia meet as they're going to put flowers
on their parents' graves. Nikolai is putting flowers on his father's
grave, and Katia is putting flowers on her mother's grave. Both
the father and the mother are training their youngsters on how
to love. Both the living parents are also training them how to
love. Where do they meet? On their parents' graves. That's true
for most couples. We meet emotionally on our parents' graves.
Then we awaken somewhere, five, ten or twenty years down the line.
For men, not to look at their mother is not to look at the most
influential relationship in their life.
John: That's why it's so frightening to do it.
Michael: It's terribly frightening. Women will say that
they've read my book, and they have to separate from their mom,
too. It's frightening for them, too.
Bert: Where do you see all of this work that men and women
are doing, on mothers, lovers and relationships, going?
John: I'll speak briefly to this, because it's a theme
in a book I'm writing, and a theme in the book Robert is writing,
The Sibling Society. Most people, including myself, have
relationships that are more infantile and adolescent than adult.
Even when they manage to be adults for short amounts of time,
because of some bad information, lack of information, or bad modeling,
there is a tendency to be constantly in a state of regression.
What we have currently, then, is what I would call, for lack of
a better term, immature relationships. The kinds of stuff that
we're wrestling with now, if we are mature enough to look at it,
is to recognize the woundedness we receive from our fathers, and
heal that. If we're mature enough, finally we are willing to say
that we received some wounds from our mother, and heal that. What
that will inevitably create is more mature, adult-to-adult relationships.
As an outgrowth of that, we will be more effective, mature, adult,
caring parents to children. What I see happening now, because
we haven't done that so well, is children raising children. The
older adult children are divorcing each other at an alarming rate.
They're leaving the children to either raise themselves, or form
families that consist of other children to get their nurturing
needs met. And that is impossible.
The work we're doing here, I hope, will ultimately create mature,
adult relationships. That's what I'm heading for.
Robert: The sibling society has a lot of characteristic
and unnoticed emotions in it, but one is the increasing rage of
the unparented. That rage is deepening. One can feel it in the
gangs, in a lot of rap music, and in a subterranean depression
in many young men and women of all social classes. We have been
talking of how important fathering is, and we need to say clearly
how important for us all mothering is. Mothers do not receive
much gratitude in a culture like this, so grossly devoted to business.
Business does not nurture. It's as if business teaches men and
women that nurturing is not an important activity. Business has
already taught men that neither nurturing nor fatherhood is an
important activity. But if we don't support nurturing, both by
mothers and by fathers, we can't call ourselves adults.
Michael: Well said. I can't add much. I do have a sense
that the culture wants to wrestle with this, and is wrestling
with this. Across the board, people are realizing that this is
a problem. I think we have woken up to the fact that, to use Robert's
phrase, we live in a sibling society. The men's movement has been
really good at saying that in order to grow, you have to heal
these wounds. That's the first step. Then there have been voices
elsewhere saying that in order to change society, you have to
go out and be political. Obviously, we can do both. In order for
this to happen, for us to build a society that we have never had
before, and to fix some problems we have created in the last couple
hundred years, we have to be ready to understand and accept men's
fragility and vulnerability. We discovered a few years back that
the culture wasn't ready for that. It was too scared. So it had
to trash the "men's movement" in the media.
One of the things I always want us to look at is how well we can
handle men's fragility. How well can a woman handle her husband's
fragility when he deals with these issues, and how much can he
handle? I think when we're young and are raising kids, we know
how fragile we are. We know how little we know. We'll cover it
up, but basically we know we're only about 12 or 15, but we're
trying to lead adult lives. That makes us so very fragile. So
I hope we can all come together and help build adulthood, so we
don't have to fake it anymore.