A Heartfelt Message to My Brothers About How We Treat Women.
I first thought I should wait to write and post this, because I am having some real issues with chemo brain — a common term used to describe thinking and memory problems that can occur after cancer treatment, which I had a few days ago.
Chemo brain can also be called chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment. I like this one, because it is so significant-sounding. Write or wait?
You be the judge. Maybe if I waited, I’d be more articulate, coherent, and persuasive. Maybe not. I feel drunk, stoned, and exhausted. Chemo brain sucks. I should wait.
But, I don’t want to wait. I’m clear enough on this now. My cancer treatments remind me that life is live TV: no reruns. It’s now or it’s not. So, here it is.
I have been around. I have done, seen, and heard a lot of stuff. Truly. Trust me. So, it takes a lot to make my mind spin out of control behind a massive WTF. But it does happen, more often than I’d like to admit.
Sometimes this happens in the wake of a big thing, like a whistleblower-inspired revelation of governmental or corporate misconduct. I confess to being particularly susceptible to ideas and actions motivated by greed, cruelty, and deception. Sometimes, this WTF-head-spin happens in the wake of a small thing, in terms of social media coverage or cultural outrage.
This is what I want to talk about. A small thing. Seemingly. It’s about how we men sometimes treat women. Not our women, but women. Hear the difference?
In her talk in one of my Speaking Truthfully classes, this brave woman told us that her significant other had forbidden her from attending an event that he had not been invited to. He said that she could not go, that she could not defy him. No discussion. No negotiation. No reasons. Just: You cannot go. Do not defy me.
That did it. My head spun, and then I groaned — maybe growled — a very guttural WTF at this objectification of women.
Brothers, we do not own women. We may not forbid them from doing anything. They are not our property. We may not take; we must ask. While most societies today still are ruled and run by the values of patriarchy — a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it — we can see the tide turning, and I could not be happier. You should be happy. Truly.
It is essential that we rejoice, and that we all facilitate and expedite this evolutionary trend whereby men realize that patriarchy is more than obsolete. This ideology is, existentially, criminal. All forms of it. All rationalizations for it.
The issue isn’t even one of gender-equality. In my view, that belief-system argument is too general and broad and, perhaps, inaccurate. I do not want to argue in this way. I do want to say this, brothers: Listen up. Seriously.
We do not own women. We are not superior to women. We do not control women. We may not take from them anything without asking and without permission. We may not harm, debase, degrade, imprison, bully, intimidate, or threaten any woman at any time for any reason. We cannot, and we may not, do this.
If you do this, stop and get help. If you see this being done, get involved and stop it. All the time. This ideology of patriarchy and its behavioral corollaries are criminal, sinful, horrible. We must stop this, right now. Everywhere.
When we consider the dictionary of words — of thoughts, beliefs, actions — that support and inform how we relate to women, do we see words like love, adore, worship, elevate, celebrate, empower, serve, honor, respect? Do we listen, learn, and grow in their presence? Are we open, curious, and patient in our exploration of women’s mysteries and riches and dimensions? I hope so.
We need to open our eyes on this. It’s great that Elizabeth Warren can blow away The Donald with her “nasty women” speech, but that is plucking low-hanging fruit. There are so many ways, maybe less graphic and visible than The Donald’s exercise of patriarchal privilege, that haunt our society. Look around. Let’s open our eyes. Let’s understand this. Let’s acknowledge this. Let’s change this.
Right now. No excuses.
Robert Rabbin began his professional journey in 1985, after spending 10 years living and working with meditation master Swami Muktananda. Since then, he has developed an international reputation as a radically brilliant speaker and public speaking guru, as well as a distinguished self-awareness facilitator, leadership adviser, and personal mentor. Robert is the creative source and director of Speaking Truthfully, through which he offers masterclasses and private mentoring in authentic self-expression and public speaking. He has published eight books and more than 200 articles on authentic living and public speaking, leadership, self-inquiry, spiritual activism, and meditation. In January 2012, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, and was told he had a few months to live. However, in keeping with his contrarian nature, he continues to thrive past the predicted use-by date. He lives in Los Angeles, and can be contacted via his website.