Note: the following “liveblogging” post reflects my notes and impressions, and is not intended to be a transcript.
8:59 AM — Moments from now, the official program for Day 2 of the Integral Spiritual Experience event begins. Dr. Warren Farrell, the award-winning and best-selling author with a great beard will be joining us. The opening bell is rung…
9:02 AM — Linda Groves-Bonder leads us in an opening vocal contemplation exercise…
9:05 AM — Marc Gafni introduces Dr. Farrell by telling his story of his involvement in the women’s liberation movement, the NOW organization, and his efforts to open up a new area of discourse around the men’s liberation movement.
Warren walks out on stage. Holy smokes… where’s the HELL is the beard? I am seated at the back of the room (maybe I can’t see it). Okay, I’m calming down now. The goatee… not so sure about it, but moving on.
9:09 AM — “Every society that has survived has survived became healthy by preparing its boys for death in battle.” What a powerful way to get going. “We’ll see today why men in industrialized nations are about half a century behind where women were, how that happened, and what must change. We are making a transition not from a women’s movement, not a men’s movement, but a gender transition movement. In the context of love, we are looking at how to make the transition from role mate to soul mate.”
9:11 AM — There are four transitions necessary for this transformation to happen. He’ll be walking us through all four of these transitions today. Because of the time constraints, he’ll only be giving us the tip of the iceberg about how our situation is such a mess but paradoxically better than ever, and the opportunity at hand.
9:13 AM — Why both members of the sexes draw other members of the opposite sex who are least capable of loving. This has to do with the origins of patriarchal society and the imperative to survive. “Be fruitful and multiple” was the rule, and men chose mates based on youth and attractiveness, and women chose men based on their ability to protect them. Men falling in love with teenage girls are falling in love with women who are the least capable of loving, and vice versa. Both sexes were programmed in this way, but a woman’s traditional role gave her certain love advantages (not to say that the woman loves a man more). “Men learned to love women by being away from them; women learned to love men by being with them. Men learned to get their love by being disconnected from love.”
9:23 AM — There are four gender transitions that need to occur. First, women’s transition process. In the early stage of the women’s movement, they needed the opportunity to have power and status. But then this raised the criticism from within that this makes women into “imitation men.” Next, women understood that power is not being like men, but having control over one’s life. Options are not just about saying you have choice, but doing the spiritual journey of looking inside yourself and asking who you have the approval of, that part of us that wants us to give up our true selves, and stepping into having power over our own lives.
9:30 AM — Most women today are at stage three — knowing they need control over their lives. But men are now at the stage women were at in the 1950s. “Women can’t hear what men don’t say.” The women best able to grow psychologically had selected the men who were least able to grow, hence the rise of divorce. Now let’s look at this within a wider context: the “family vote.” Women can row on either side of the boat (childcare or work outside the home), but men are only able to row on one side of the vote. Hence, in recessions men lose their jobs much more. In current recession, 78% of jobs lost were men’s jobs. If we don’t help both sexes row on both sides of the boat, we will have a family boat that will be liable to crash on the sharp rocks of recessions. Getting there will take navigating through unfinished development work in both women’s development and men’s development.
9:36 AM — The single best predictor of empathy in a child is when children have intact dads. Not because men are more empathetic, but because dads force the children to think about someone other than themselves. As wives work more, women and children are more in need of men who are nurturers and protectors, but this requires both sexes to learn to love and respect each other when they do it.
9:38 AM — Boys’ transition to new roles. Is there a potential crisis? When boys are pre-age 9, boys and girls commit suicide at equal rates. Between 10 and 14, boys commit suicide 10 times; 14 and 15, it’s 15 times; etc. That’s half the disaster. The other half is we don’t seem to know about it, and don’t seem to care about it. As male expectations became more defined, the fear of not being able to live up to our expectations is so great that men can’t handle it. Education. Warren also talks about boys behind behind women in reading and writing, and if those areas are not handled well, this has ripple effects in all areas. Jobs. Vocational training is being cut back, and when vocational training is offered the training is often for the jobs of the past (woodworking, etc.), not the jobs of the future (robotics, etc.) Fatherlessness. A third of boys and girls today are raised in father-absent homes. Where fatherlessness is worst, more than half of the boys in those neighborhoods don’t graduate high school. Life expectancy job. The gap is 5.2 years in the US and growing wider. These are the tips of the iceberg of a crisis that is unacknowledged.
9:43 PM — Men’s definition of power has come to be the ability to earn enough money so that someone else can spend it and we die earlier. “Pay is about the power we forfeit to get the power of pay.” We forfeit the power to have a spiritual life to have the money so our children can have a spiritual life.
9:46 PM — The first step in our growth is to eliminate our society’s dependence on male disposability. The draft. Running into burning buildings. Working in dangerous coal mines and building construction. “Making a killing” on Wall Street (in Japanese, the “death from overwork.”) 92% of deaths in the workplace in US are deaths of men (excluding, say, firefighters who get black lung that manifest when they’re not in work. As adults, we praise men for volunteering to die. 76% of all firefighters are volunteers, almost all men. They are paid in praise and respect: a social bribe to protect us at the expense of their life. They are called “heroes.”
9:52 PM — Boys learn to associate being physically abused with being loved. Parents support this. Cheerleaders support this (do cheerleaders cheer for boys who aren’t risking spinal chord injuries and concussions?). Our schools do this. Public policy (e.g., draft registration). What society does to socialize a boy to serve its needs is the opposite of what it needs to do to build healthy boys. We need to give men the ability to develop their spiritual lives, just as women have the ability today. We need men to be released from being “human doings” into being “human beings.”
9:56 PM — Transition three (not enough time to go into depth): Society’s transition needs to involve a male birth control pill, paternity leave (Sweden’s example shows that paternity leave lowers divorce rates.) Team executive positions are an important development, a crucial aspect of the transition.
9:57 PM — Everyone’s transition from “survival communication” into “empathy communication” modalities. The Achilles heel of all human beings is the ability to handle criticism without being defensive, especially from a loved one. For ten years, he’s been working on creating a workaround to our natural biological response to the physiological defense mechanisms; without it, we cannot make the transition smoothly.
9:59 PM — Moving to an ethic of “Each time our partner criticizes me, the more they feel a safe environment to say what they want to say, the more they’ll feel loved by me, and feel love for me.” This can be the future of love. He is grateful for sharing a sliver of his life work with us.