A recently conducted survey of more than 1,000 women by the well-regarded BBC Radio 4 programme Women’s Hour revealed a lot of interesting statistics about how British women feel about their lives in 2016.
One thing that stood out for me was how little difference income made in areas which were about emotional well-being, such as overal happiness, although not surprisingly, it did determine levels of confidence about having access to healthy food, or quality housing…those areas where access to resources is directly linked to disposable income
I’m always on the look out for opportunities to learn more about that other wonderful human species that shares this planet with us, and I found these figures from the survey to be the most interesting:
“Only 10 percent of women would rather be a man, and only 10 percent would not have married the same person.”
“40 percent of women are completely happy.”
“80 percent of women do not feel held back at work because of being a woman.”
(By the way, I would love to see a similar survey of British men, with different questions, obviously. That would be a useful eye opener for everyone, men and women).
This reassured me that, in spite the defensive reactions to the survey that have appeared on some British “men’s rights” websites, the female species in the U.K. is apparently not overrun by angry, man-hating feminists.
Then there was this other rather thought provoking revelation:
“Only an average of 20 percent of women across of all ages (and there’s not so much difference in response between different age groups) are very satisfied with their sex lives; 10 percent feel so/so about it, and 7 percent are very unsatisfied.”
So, there’s clearly something that many of us can do to make our women happier. And it would be a real “labour of love.” To the men who seem angry about what this survey revealed, I’d say this: what reason would either the survey designers, or the women interviewed, have to want to put men down? And if they’re expressing genuine feelings about men, why DO they feel that way?
As men we need to ask ourselves: do we want greater equality, mutual understanding and respect and happiness in our relationships? I know I do. If so, I think we need to respond to the women’s movement, and feminism, whenever they talk about what pisses them off—n the same way we would a partner who is upset. Any man who’s ever been in an argument with a woman knows that trying to prove that he’s “right” is a pointless exercise. The best way forward is for him, as the generally less emotional gender, to listen, and show that he’s heard and tried to understand, the feelings being expressed. And if they don’t make any sense to him, he can ask for clarification (not necessarily justification!)
Of course, it would be nice if we always took responsibility for our own feelings, never blaming anyone else. But we’re only human; we get angry, and we need to let off steam sometimes. An important part of caring about someone, if I’m on the receiving end of their criticism, is to resist interpreting it as a personal attack and getting defensive, and instead try to see through to what the underlying pain or issue is. It may well not be mostly about me at all, even though I may have triggered it.
I need to be solid enough in myself to withstand her “storm,” so that I can explore with my partner the calmer waters which will inevitably follow. We can look at the lie of the land together and try to see: what could I, or she do differently? What misunderstandings happened, and how? What raw areas (probably based in past hurts) have been triggered in either of us? What “love language” works best for each of us? And we need to also take the time to remind ourselves what we love and appreciate about each other!
In my experience, when my woman feels her anger and pain has been listened to and acknowledged, even if it may have expressed itself in an unbalanced and factually inaccurate way, she can take a possibly more balanced view, or at least see more clearly what was going on for her. And I can reflect and decide which, if any of the criticisms being leveled at me are justified; then take steps to make changes, or explain why I can’t, or am not willing to.
If I react with indignation and defensiveness; denying any responsibility; proclaiming how unfair it is; feeling sorry for myself as a “victim” and protesting my innocence, etc. all this just actually sounds like an expression of hidden guilt. The sad result will simply be more separation, resentment and isolation in my relationship. Who the hell wants that?
But, this is exactly the way that many members of the Men’s Rights movement sound when responding to women’s criticisms or concerns. Full of anger, resentment, defensiveness; sounding like naughty boys, or like bullies who can’t stand having their view of the world challenged.
Yes, women most definitely do have some “unfair” advantages in our society, but the reality is that most men enjoy, and have enjoyed, many privileges from living in a male dominated society, even though they’re often invisible to us because we’ve grown up with them. They’ve not been invisible to the many women who’ve been on the receiving end of unfairness, abuse, or violence.
The good news which I think the BBC survey reveals is that most women want to be our friends, lovers, partners and wives. We just need to dare to listen to them when they’re feeling upset with us, and let ourselves be listened to; to respect them and be respected. I’ve never met a woman who didn’t want that kind of mutually balanced relationship with a man. If you meet a woman who doesn’t want that… steer clear.
And if we don’t want that kind of equality, it’s worth asking ourselves why. Being loved by, and loving, an equal is much more rewarding than trying to maintain a false feeling of power with a woman who feels unable to be herself because of fear and conditioning and who will sooner or later react to that in ways that will be damaging for everyone.
If you treat ALL others as you would expect to be, or demand to be, treated yourself, the world becomes a place full of the kind of love that almost all of us, at heart, want more than anything.
Photo credit: Getty Images