I had a huge realization today: Almost every idea and perspective that feels fresh and future-oriented (to me) is from a woman (or a man who healthily embraces both his masculine and feminine sides). The days of the alpha male are over. The world they have lead is a mess. And one of the central, reoccurring stories of history is arrogant, childish men grabbing power, not listening to anyone else, and allowing their swaggering hubris to crash their lives and hurt everyone around them. This is painful to watch when it’s a father wrecking his family, or a CEO bringing down his company. And it’s painful to watch when it’s a world leader hurting his country.
Male dominance has taken us as far as it can, and we need the future to be co-created by the feminine. Not just “let some women play along with men’s rules”, but a true partnership that re-writes the rules.
Before going any further, I must acknowledge that I am a male in a leadership position who has benefited from the system in so many ways. And although many wise people have been talking about gender issues for years (my brilliant wife being one of them!), I am embarrassingly late to this conversation. So in the humility of just beginning this journey, here are a few perspectives that are helping me.
Noreena Hertz ended her brilliant TED talk with…
“If we challenge experts, devolve authority, and keep our independent thinking strong…
but also, if we become much more comfortable with nuance, uncertainty, and doubt, and if we allow our experts using those terms too, we will set ourselves up much better for the challenges of the 21st century.”
When’s the last time you heard a male president, prime minister, CEO, leader, or football coach arguing for nuance, uncertainty, and doubt? It’s very rare. Usually, it’s about power and certainty and “smoking the bad guys out of their caves”. But this bravado doesn’t often get to the heart (and then solution) of such a complicated world. And even when it is victorious, the collateral damage is painful to watch.
(My second favorite band Elbow sings “The leaders of the free world are just little boys throwing stones. And it’s easy to ignore them till they’re knocking on the doors of our homes.” listen here.)
My mother-in-law Lynne is an incredible example of a brave woman who is wading into the most intense issues on planet earth (first HIV/AIDS, then the Congo, and now the Palestinian/Israeli conflict) with both strength and grace. She’s strong enough to stand up and speak the truth, but humble enough to appeal for a compromise where both sides can win. She can hold her own in a line of powerful male speakers, but she also listens to you (no matter who you are) like you’re the most important person on earth. Is it strange to admit that I’d like to be more like my mother-in-law? (read more here.)
Finally, the lovingly provocative Father Rohr suggests:
“All this “women-stuff” is not only important; it is half of conversion, half of salvation, half of wholeness, half of God’s work of art. …The world is tired of Pentagons and pyramids, empires and corporations that only abort God’s child. This women-stuff is very important, and it has always been important; more than this white male priest ever imagined or desired! My God was too small and too male. Much that the feminists have said is very prophetic and necessary for the Church and the world. It is time for the woman to come out of her desert refuge and for the men to welcome her.” (Adapted from The Maternal Face of God )
What do you think about this? How do you think the world/country/church/government most needs to shift to a better balance of masculine and feminine? Where have you seen this already happening? What have you found helpful in your own journey?