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What Women and Men Really Want

Creating Deeper Understanding and Love in Our Relationships
Originally published as:
Gender War, Gender Peace:
The Quest for Love and Justice Between Women and Men

Book reviews Copyright © 1994 by Bert H. Hoff and David A. Ault

What Women and Men Really Want: Creating Deeper Understanding and Love in Our Relationships, Aaron Kipnis, Ph.D., and Elizabeth Herron, M.A. (Novato, CA: Nataraj Publishing, 1995)

Here are two book reviews of this important book. M.E.N. Editor Bert H. Hoff looks at it from a mythopoetic perspective, and David A. Ault, Director of Seattleís Menís Rights, Inc. brings a Menís Rights perspective to it.

Aaron and Liz
Aaron Kipnis and
Elizabeth Herron

What Women and Men Really Want: Creating Deeper Understanding and Love in Our Relationships.

Read our Interview
with Aaron and Liz

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Book cover
Angry Young Men: How Parents, Teachers, and Counselors can Help "Bad Boys" become Good Men
by Aaron Kipnis

Aaron Kipnis, Knights Without Armor. Still one of the classics on what Men's Work is all about. (order on-line)

Book Review, April 1994 issue of M.E.N. Magazine (by Bert H. Hoff)

I have long maintained that Aaron Kipnisí Knights Without Armor was one of the best menís books out there. He used the vehicle of a menís poker group, who stopped playing cards and opened their souls to each other, as an effective vehicle for exploring the full range of issues in Menís Work. This time, Aaron and his partner, Liz Herron have outdone themselves. This book describes a week-long backpack in the shadow of Mount Shasta, where men and women explore their conflicts and their inner selves. The fire begins right away, as the camp splits right after each sex expresses their grievances against the other sex. Nature intervenes to put out the fire with an unseasonable, strong rain and hailstorm, which is part of the process of the group coming back together again.

Aaron and Lizís astute and wise comments are interspersed with the personal stories of the participants as the group manifests on the personal and group level the divisiveness and need for healing needed in our society. As the men and women and men share their grievances about what is wrong with men and women in society, I canít disagree with any of their comments. As the story unfolds, the participants move from these social injustices to their personal histories and personal wounds. The process that Aaron and Liz describes models very well a process by which we can get beyond gender war to gender peace.

Two areas stand out in particular. First, they develop the concept of "gender justice," moving beyond "Menís Rights" and "Womenís Rights." The goal is not equality, but celebration of masculinity and femininity and mutual respect and honoring of the roles people choose to play arising from their gender differences. One of the most powerful aprts of the book occurs when the men and women take responsibility for their own actions contributing to gender divisiveness, rather than blaming the other gender.

Second, the group chooses to explore sexual harassment and date rape in depth, as their vehicle for examining gender conflict. The ensuing discussion is thourough, well-balanced and very powerful.

But the most powerful aspect of the book is the participantsí sharing of themselves and their stories. The people are very real, and you will find yourself captivated by their stories. You owe it to yourself to immerse yourself in this book.

Book Review: Aaron Kipnis & Elizabeth Herron, Gender War, Gender Peace

by David A. Ault

This marvelous book documents a real breakthrough toward resolving the ever-intensifying war between the sexes. In the course of a week-long, mixed-gender retreat, members of each sex acknowledge the harm that they, personally, and their sex, in general, have done to the other sex. This opened the way for both sexes to move from fear and anger toward the other sex, toward acceptance and appreciation of our differences and needs. Finally, the group began working together toward greater understanding and cooperation.

There are two reasons that this breakthrough occurred. First, the women acknowledged how they have used their emotional, erotic, spiritual, or new-found political power to hurt some men in their lives. This helped the women to understand that gender oppression and discrimination has been co-created and cannot be blamed solely upon men.

Second, knowing that the women were being honest about their own part in the gender war and were open to listening to the men's hurts without dismissing or diminishing them, the men felt safe to admit their own culpability and to seek to make amends for it.

The same feeling of safety was very important to the women too. The group discovered that much of the women's outward anger toward men was a response to their internal fear of men. The significant difference in this experience between the two sexes was the men's prior awareness of their misuse of physical, economic and political power, while some of the women were really hearing the men's complaints for the first time in their lives.

Once each side had expressed its complaints, admitted its wrong-doings toward the other sex, and asked for forgiveness, both sexes were able to move forward towards gender peace by expressing what each sex liked and really wanted from members of the other sex. Together, they explored ideas for new partnering models based upon mutual respect and cooperation.

The setting for the book is a week-long camping trip in the California mountains led by the co- authors. There are seven men and seven women, some of whom are coupled. Many of each sex's issues are aired in a succession of councils that occur through the week. The authors insert their own commentary throughout the book to add historical material and to fill in the gaps with data and issues not expressed on this trip.

I highly recommend Gender War, Gender Peace. The book reads as a story with notes at the end documenting and commenting upon the assertions made. It can be used individually by women and men to understand and appreciate the issues of the other sex. It also serves as a model for discussion in mixed gender groups who want to experience a transition from gender anger to gender peace. I hope that the book will be a catalyst for a gender-justice movement of understanding and cooperation to replace the current adversarial aspects of the women's rights and men's rights movements.

David A. Ault is Co-Director of Men's Rights, Inc., Equal Rights Amendment Project, whose goal it is to include men and men's issues in the equal rights discussion.

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