“Women Teach Men, an $895 July wellness retreat features talks, lectures and workshops taught by accomplished female experts. The speakers ranged from well-known media personalities like Perel to lesser-known gurus like “body poetess” Mari Sierra. In addition to talks, the weekend included structured men’s groups (no women allowed), where men could sit around and share their feelings–a.k.a. my sexual fantasy. When I found out all this was going down at the Ojai Valley Inn, a five-star hotel with a pool, mountain views and delicious gourmet meals, I packed a bag of bikinis faster than you can say, “The Patriarchy hurts men, too!”
Full disclosure: I know a guy who went to this and was invited to attend. It’s not my thing, but conceptually, I really like the idea of men – for once! – attempting to understand women. Remember, the only reason I’m a coach for women is that men don’t generally ask for help when it comes to relationships.
Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity, was the headline speaker. Says Surnow:
“What stuck out to her wasn’t any one particular concern but just how starved the men were for a chance to talk and ask questions. “Women are over-served in the space of relationships and men are totally underserved,” Perel told me. “And because the lives of women will not change until men come along that means that men need to have a chance to also rethink what it means to be a man at home and at work.”
If you’re not a predator and you are capable of speaking up then you should make your voice heard and be part of the solution
It turns out some men need permission to speak openly about what it means to be a man in the wake of #MeToo. A married rabbi said his favorite part of the weekend was when Perel lamented that in this current climate men are being told to sit down and shut up. The rabbi felt validated that a woman might want to hear his point of view. “If you’re not a predator and you are capable of speaking up then you should make your voice heard and be part of the solution,” he said.
Hear, hear. Men are, indeed, starved for a chance to talk and ask questions. Thus the presence of so many male readers on a blog specifically for women.
Personally, I grew up with a stable family and counted both my mother and father as my best friends growing up. My willingness to express my thoughts and feelings never seemed like anything extraordinary until I discovered most people didn’t have a similar childhood experience. So I think it’s great that men are finally starting to talk. So is the author of the piece:
“Because of the model of masculinity I was raised with, it was inspiring to be surrounded by men trying to become more emotionally present. They made me feel excited about the evolution of masculinity, and how it opens up the potential for deeper, more connected relationships… The more we can talk about healthy masculinity and incorporate it into the mainstream conversation, the more men will have space to heal and become authentic. Driving away from Ojai, I left with a plush hotel bathrobe, a purse full of tiny soaps and a newfound empathy for “some men.”
And, if anything, that’s what I want you to take away from this blog, filled with readers who see the world through a different lens. Instead of demonizing them, have some empathy.
Realize that the man who has been burned by women has his reasons to be skeptical, just like you have your reasons to be skeptical. But not until we put our skepticism aside and choose to practice radical empathy will we fix our broken hearts.
To be clear, I’m not encouraging any men to attend a retreat which may be a little touchy-feely for you. But seriously, guys, find a friend to talk to about this stuff. And women, don’t judge men for being more “sensitive artist” than “Marlboro Man.” His sensitivity is what other men lack and what makes him a better partner in the long run.
Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.