Usually adult males who are unable to make emotional connections with the women they choose to be intimate with are frozen in time, unable to allow themselves to love for fear that the loved one will abandon them. If the first woman they passionately loved, the mother, was not true to her bond of love, then how can they trust that their partner will be true to love. Often in their adult relationships these men act out again and again to test their partner's love. While the rejected adolescent boy imagines that he can no longer receive his mother's love because he is not worthy, as a grown man he may act out in ways that are unworthy and yet demand of the woman in his life that she offer him unconditional love. This testing does not heal the wound of the past, it merely reenacts it, for ultimately the woman will become weary of being tested and end the relationship, thus reenacting the abandonment. This drama confirms for many men that they cannot put their trust in love. They decide that it is better to put their faith in being powerful, in being dominant.
Genuine love is rarely an emotional space where needs are instantly gratified. To know love we have to invest time and commitment...'dreaming that love will save us, solve all our problems or provide a steady state of bliss or security only keeps us stuck in wishful fantasy, undermining the real power of the love -- which is to transform us.' Many people want love to function like a drug, giving them an immediate and sustained high. They want to do nothing, just passively receive the good feeling.
Often men who have been emotionally neglected and abused as children by dominating mothers bond with assertive women, only to have their childhood feelings of being engulfed surface. While they could not 'smash their mommy' and still receive love, they find that they can engage in intimate violence with partners who respond to their acting out by trying harder to connect with them emotionally, hoping that the love offered in the present will heal the wounds of the past. If only one party in the relationship is working to create love, to create the space of emotional connection, the dominator model remains in place and the relationship just becomes a site for continuous power struggle.
Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.
To return to love, to get the love we always wanted but never had, to have the love we want but are not prepared to give, we seek romantic relationships. We believe these relationships, more than any other, will rescue and redeem us. True love does have the power to redeem but only if we are ready for redemption. Love saves us only if we want to be saved.
Individuals who want to believe that there is no fulfillment in love, that true love does not exist, cling to these assumptions because this despair is actually easier to face than the reality that love is a real fact of life but is absent from their lives.
All too often women believe it is a sign of commitment, an expression of love, to endure unkindness or cruelty, to forgive and forget. In actuality, when we love rightly we know that the healthy, loving response to cruelty and abuse is putting ourselves out of harm's way.
The practice of love offers no place of safety. We risk loss, hurt, pain. We risk being acted upon by forces outside our control.
Visionary feminism is a wise and loving politics. It is rooted in the love of male and female being, refusing to privilege one over the other. The soul of feminist politics is the commitment to ending patriarchal domination of women and men, girls and boys. Love cannot exist in any relationship that is based on domination and coercion. Males cannot love themselves in patriarchal culture if their very self-definition relies on submission to patriarchal rules. When men embrace feminist thinking and preactice, which emphasizes the value of mutual growth and self-actualization in all relationships, their emotional well-being will be enhanced. A genuine feminist politics always brings us from bondage to freedom, from lovelessness to loving.
Contrary to what we may have been taught to think, unnecessary and unchosen suffering wounds us but need not scar us for life. It does mark us. What we allow the mark of our suffering to become is in our own hands.
But many of us seek community solely to escape the fear of being alone. Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.
the wounded child inside many males is a boy who, when he first spoke his truths, was silenced by paternal sadism, by a patriarchal world that did not want him to claim his true feelings. The wounded child inside many females is a girl who was taught from early childhood that she must become something other than herself, deny her true feelings, in order to attract and please others. When men and women punish each other for truth telling, we reinforce the notion that lies are better. To be loving we willingly hear the other’s truth, and most important, we affirm the value of truth telling. Lies may make people feel better, but they do not help them to know love.
One of the best guides to how to be self-loving is to give ourselves the love we are often dreaming about receiving from others. There was a time when I felt lousy about my over-forty body, saw myself as too fat, too this, or too that. Yet I fantasized about finding a lover who would give me the gift of being loved as I am. It is silly, isn't it, that I would dream of someone else offering to me the acceptance and affirmation I was withholding from myself. This was a moment when the maxim You can never love anybody if you are unable to love yourself made clear sense. And I add, Do not expect to receive the love from someone else you do not give yourself.
Giving generously in romantic relationships, and in all other bonds, means recognizing when the other person needs our attention. Attention is an important resource.
When we only name the problem, when we state complaint without a constructive focus or resolution, we take hope away. In this way critique can become merely an expression of profound cynicism, which then works to sustain dominator culture.
No black woman writer in this culture can write too much. Indeed, no woman writer can write too much...No woman has ever written enough.
I mostly want to remind her of the recipes of healing, and give her my own made-on-the spot remedy for the easing of her pain. I tell her, “Get a pen. Stop crying so you can write this down and start working on it tonight.” My remedy is long. But the last item on the list says: “When you wake up and find yourself living someplace where there is nobody you love and trust, no community, it is time to leave town – to pack up and go (you can even go tonight). And where you need to go is any place where there are arms that can hold you, that will not let you go.
Understanding knowledge as an essential element of love is vital because we are bombarded daily with messages that tell us love is about mystery, about that which cannot be known. We see movies in which people are represented as being in love who never talk with one another, who fall into bed without ever discussing their bodies, their sexual needs, their likes and dislikes. Indeed, the message is received from the mass media is that knowledge makes love less compelling; that it is ignorance that gives love its erotic and transgressive edge. These messages are brought to us by profiteering producers who have no clue about the art of loving, who substitute their mystified visions because they do not really know how to genuinely portray loving interaction.
There will be no mass-based feminist movement as long as feminist ideas are understood only by a well-educated few.
To be changed by ideas was pure pleasure. But to learn ideas that ran counter to values and beliefs learned at home was to place oneself at risk, to enter the danger zone. Home was the place where I was forced to conform to someone else’s image of who and what I should be. School was the place where I could forget that self and, through ideas, reinvent myself.
While it is positive for young black males and females to learn discipline and self-responsibility, those attitudes, values, and habits of being can be taught with pedagogical strategies that are liberatory, that do not rely on coercive control and punishment to reinforce positive behavior.
When we face pain in relationships our first response is often to sever bonds rather than to maintain commitment.
Relationships are treated like Dixie cups. They are the same. They are disposable. If it does not work, drop it, throw it away, get another.Committed bonds (including marriage) cannot last when this is the prevailing logic. Most of us are unclear about what to do to protect and strengthen caring bonds when our self-centered needs are not being met.
Dominator culture teaches all of us that the core of our identity is defined by the will to dominate and control others. We are taught that this will to dominate is more biologically hardwired in males than in females. In actuality, dominator culture teaches us that we are all natural-born killers but that males are more able to realize the predator role. In the dominator model the pursuit of external power, the ability to manipulate and control others, is what matters most. When culture is based on a dominator model, not only will it be violent but it will frame all relationships as power struggles.
I believe that it is impossible for two individuals not committed to their own and each other’s well being to sustain a healthy and enduring relationship.
The power of patriarchy has been to make maleness feared and to make men feel that it is better to be feared that to be loved. Whether they can confess this or not, men know that just is not true.
None of us, irrespective of our sexual preference and/or practice, imagine that we can have an intimate relationship with a partner and always have seamless harmony. Indeed, most of us assume that once the “honeymoon” period is over differences will emerge and conflicts will happen. Positively, we also assume that we will be “safe“ in those moments; that even if voices are raised and emotions expressed are intense, there will not be and should not be any abuse or any reason to be unsafe, and that the will to connect and communicate will prevail.
schools for love do not exist. everyone assumes that we will know how to love instinctively.despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, we still accept that the family is the primary school for love.those of us who do not learn how to love among family are expected to experience love in romantic relationships. however this love often eludes us.
Significantly, romantic friendships can coexist with the fact of partners' marrying because their reason for being is not to replace marriage but to open the possibility of sustained, committed true love existing among friends, and not just same-sex friends. No matter that our chosen relationship commitments change. Those of us who have long-term romantic friendships, some that have lasted longer than any of our marriages or partnerships, do not fear that these commitments will falter if we create primary bonds.
Young girls often feel strong, courageous, highly creative, and powerful until they begin to receive undermining sexist messages that encourage them to conform to conventional notions of femininity. To conform they have to give up power.
When angels speak of love they tell us it is only by loving that we enter an earthly paradise. They tell us paradise is our home and love our true destiny.
Those of us who have already chosen to embrace a love ethic, know that when we let our light shine, we draw to us and are drawn to other bearers of light. We are not alone.
A generous heart is always open, always ready to receive our going and coming. In the midst of such love we need never fear abandonment. This is the most precious gift true love offers - the experience of knowing we always belong.
I tell them that love is always there–that nothing can keep us from love if we dare to seek it and to treasure what we find.
Feminism is the struggle to end sexist oppression. Therefore, it is necessarily a struggle to eradicate the ideology of domination that permeates Western culture on various levels, as well as a commitment to reorganizing society so that the self-development of people can take precedence over imperialism, economic expansion, and material desires.
…there is not a day of my life that I am not critiquing myself to see if my politics are borne out in the way that I live and the way that I talk and present myself.
Individual heterosexual women came to the movement from relationships where men were cruel, unkind, violent, unfaithful. Many of these men were radical thinkers who participated in movements for social justice, speaking out on behalf of the workers, the poor, speaking out on behalf of racial justice. However when it came to the issue of gender they were as sexist as their conservative cohorts.