Have you heard of the term, misogyny? It refers to the hatred of, contempt for, gender discrimination or prejudice against women or girls. Misandry refers to the same except against men or boys in general.
There was a time when I hated men. Without going into details, I do not think having negative attitudes about men, and being fearful or hateful of them is unusual for women.
I think you will be hard pressed to find a woman who has not had some degree of psychological, physical or emotional abuse caused by a man — whether her father, lover, boss, colleague, classmate, friend or even strangers — and consequently, carry some wounding with them. Many people do not recognise the threat of violence as violence against another, and excuse their behaviour with comments like, “it’s just a joke” and take no responsibility.
Violence or “jokes” of it can be traumatic and bring up past trauma. Then, what hurts women turns around and hurts more men, and society at large.
Woof whistling, being followed persistently, the seemingly accidental rub or touch on public transport, up-skirt videos, actual or threat of physical violence — there are indeed many reasons (or excuses) to fear, detest or hate men for their behaviour.
After all, men are bigger, stronger, and more capable of hurting others. While we could argue about the advancement of equal rights and the progression of feminism, the reality is things will never be equal between genders – we are physically and biologically different.
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Early in the practice, I knew I had to heal my negative view of men to better support my clients regardless of gender. It took time but I did overcome my gender discrimination of men and this was how — I developed close friendships with men who had no agenda with me, and hence had no reason to put up any pretences around me.
They shared with me their misgivings, insecurities and anxieties and it was not that different from my female friends. Through my interactions and over time, I realised men are not demigods and are fallible (they are human, just like women).
I realised I had been typecasting men (as one type of men) because I had limited male friends and interactions. As I worked with male clients, I began to see more clearly that just as women have been abused and hurt by men, men have also been abused and hurt by women.
A lot of times, the hurt we carry came from our parents (who themselves have been hurt) or often, by people of the opposite gender.
We all need healing from our negative experience and projections of the opposite gender, as well as our sexual beliefs and gender discrimination that does not serve us in having positive sexual experiences and expressions.
I began to view my clients as individuals and not as a collective. Sure, there are some relationship generalisations or gender stereotyping that still run true, but there are always exceptions.
For instance, not all men are horny, ready for sex or only want sex all the time. Many of them love to please and give pleasure to their partners. Most men view themselves as givers, providers and defenders of their family.
There are men who are impatient and egoistic, and there are many others who remain patient, dedicated to their beloved and will do whatever it takes for the relationship to work.
Sex is more than just the physical act. Intimacy is not a synonym for sex. Sexual satisfaction is not always, or very rarely, purely physical. It is time we stop sexually objectifying men the way we do so with women, and it is time we stop talking about men in dismissive ways as well which leads to gender discrimination.
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During the time of the coronavirus when the world stayed home and people in general quietened down different aspects of their lives and invariably turned inwards, I hope this piece brings about an invite to heal the sexual wounds caused by people in your life regardless of their gender.
Hurt people hurt others. Healed people have the capacity to heal others. When we take responsibility to reclaim our sexuality and heal the parts that need healing, then as a society, we can be more mindful in our interactions and heal one another regardless of gender.
Dr.Martha Tara Lee,D.H.S.,M.A.,M.A.,B.A.is a relationship counsellor & clinical sexologist and the woman behind Eros Coaching Pte. Ltd.
This story first appeared in the July ’20 issue of Men’s Folio Singapore.