Couple. Picture by Eric Francis.

Onward & Inward

Here some additional responses to, "Why Men are Afraid of Women", by Susan, Dennis, FMD, Alexis, and Freeda.


Dear Eric:

I'm trying, really trying to maintain an open mind about how women could be feared by men since, as a woman, the opposite is completely obvious to me. So I examined and thought carefully about the lists on your blog and began to draw lines between them. I can see how we really aren't so different after all, as one of your published reader responses points out. Here's how it looks from inside my head:

Men have physical and therefore economic power. Women have rage, which is an emotional power. We use these tools to enslave each other by exploiting our mutual fear of abandonment. These powers feed each other. Women get angry that men have all the power. Men, in response to such raw irrational emotion, cling to and strengthen that power because, really, how can power be trusted to something so irrational? And so the cycle is perpetuated.

Men and women both have sexual power, and by this I mean the power to deny or withhold sex from the other. Men and women have different styles of communicating which causes massive confusion and frustration to both sides. More intelligent people than I have written great books on this topic so I'll say no more about it. It seems to me that many of the "why women fear men" issues can be rolled up under the masthead of Power. In turn, many of the "why men fear women" issues can be rolled up under the heading of Communication.

The one thing you write which I cannot quite understand is "While pregnancy changes a woman's life irrevocably, it also changes a man's life irrevocably." Please present some evidence for this because, unless a child is actually born, I cannot see how. You say that women have many forms of recourse but I remind you that for most women this recourse exists little more than conceptually. I'm sure you don't need a lengthy dissertation about how pregnancy termination may still be technically legal in a few locations around the globe but in practice has had much of the real choice stripped from it. Birth control as a choice exists for both men and women and I might even argue is more of a free choice for you gents than for us ladies.

Condoms are an inexpensive and readily available form of male birth control. For a woman to obtain female methods of birth control often requires the involvement of medical professionals which is hardly as unfettered and free a choice as popping down to the nearest drug store or into the nearest pub loo on a whim and an urge.

When you talk about a woman's decision to involve a man or not in a pregnancy I presume you mean financial involvement and again I suspect you mean the childrearing that comes after childbirth, not pregnancy itself. Childrearing most certainly will change both men and women irrevocably. But pregnancy? It seems to me a uniquely female experience.

And finally my dear, do women really possess all the choice about pregnancy? Hopefully we are talking about consensual sex between a man and a woman and not rape. With the former, the choice to engage in the procreative act, with all its incumbent risks, is mutual. In the latter, it is all his.

I hope you do not view this as a flame because it is not meant in that spirit. It's just the perspective of one woman who has escorted a pregnant friend (sans boyfriend) past protesters into an abortion clinic, who planned ahead for birth control by seeing the doctor and paying for the uninsured prescription, who ultimately struggled to actually become pregnant and had to administer hormone injections to herself, then was wheeled alone into surgery for egg extraction, and finally, blessedly, blissfully, but solitarily enjoyed gestating my beautiful daughter inside my own body. You can perhaps see why I'm a little possessive of pregnancy as a uniquely female experience and may therefore dismiss my arguments for all their emotional irrationality. ;o)

You (and your team) are the best!
Susan, female, age 42, married hetero- & solosexual mother of 1



I am not so afraid of women as curious? Classic "Men from Mars-Women from Venus" stereotypic history here. From almost dysfunctional background, I have attempted more to exist with the real world and women, tough sledding. The first 3 points after your web address, denote the scope of challenge. More getting to know and trust than fear, unless fear is of the unknown.

Thank you for making me push inward.



I believe that the reason that some men may fear some women is because of a few possibilities:

1. Perhaps they had mean domineering mothers or other maternal figures who were physically abusive and or emotionally neglected or belittled them I've personally witnessed this sort of thing happening often in public places. If you dare to intervene, they usually tell you to "mind your own business".

2. Perhaps some men resent that they were birthed by women and helpless and dependent on them for most of their early identity during their first six years of life which are their most "formative" years. They are then told that they are not supposed to play like a girl and their fathers are usually a little extra overbearing from then on to make sure that their sons do not grow up to be "feminine".

3. Boys have often been told that they are not supposed to "cry" and show emotion and so they internalize their feelings which can later boil into anger and aggression.

4. Perhaps they had experiences with manipulative and controlling female figures.

Personally, I think we should do away with compartmentalizing people because of their gender because it stunts their unique personalities. I believe one of the best things women of today can do is to raise their sons not to need and be dependent on women later in life to take "care" of them. Teach them how to cook, clean, and be independent!! It seems to me that all women and men have different ranges of masculine and feminine qualities. With some people it is obvious, with others, they hide or deny these qualities for fear of not being accepted.

Female married Cancer/Dragon, no kids


Eric and all other readers -

I am a female, Libra with a Pisces moon and Taurus rising, 56, more to the hetero side than not. Though I have had sexual experiences with other women. For nearly twenty years I have had no sexual partner. My background includes law, and by preference, mediation and conflict resolution. I discovered that communication is tough under the best of circumstances. Actually, I have found it easier to be real when I do not share a common language with the other person (either gender and not necessarily sexual) - I think because it is necessarily so basic.

One of the best ways to communicate feelings, and especially when they are strong and conflicting, is Nonviolent Communication, developed by Marshall Rosenberg. It requires a lot of work, telling one's own experience and feelings, without blame or finger pointing. It starts with description - as plain and accurate as possible, and claiming one's own response to whatever the facts are. It tends to calm things down a LOT. Once everyone has been truly heard and understood (repeating back to each other to get a common understanding), it is easier to fill needs and come to agreements. It is NOT the way I (or most of us) have been taught. If we were taught in a pervasive way, it might be easier to deal with all sorts of issues, including the differences between genders.

My own experiences include severe sexual abuse from a very early age. As I came of age in the time of sexual freedom, I participated. I have become aware that I learned to believe that sexuality was power over me - I was the weak one in some ways, while in others I used my power. You described some of this in the blog. I have worked hard to relearn inherent self-worth. The first sexual experiences, in my experience, have imprinted. So I seem to get turned on by violence. This disturbs and scares me. I have not found ways to change (mature?) this part of me very much. Acceptance has helped a bit. So . . . I have feared and avoided any encounter with a man that might become sexual. And that too leaves me with less than I would like . . .





Thought it was great that you shared some of yourself and your own "development" so to say. Takes alot of curiosity to open up like that and see what responses you will get ;-) But curiosity is the way to go - I will sign under that!

You wrote 2 chapters;

"I am someone who a lot of people might accuse of being superficial. Rather than merging with another person, I need to relate to them as an individual. I need the individuals in a relationship to both be bigger than The Relationship.

Here is the gist of my point: when relationships become a way to shore up missing self esteem, they are disasters waiting to happen. And that is the prevailing model: we are all, in theory, missing something possessed by the other. I realize this seems to be true and this two halves make a whole can be a very stable form of relationship -- until somebody in the couple starts becoming whole, and then things can get pretty shaky."


"If you want an idea of the extent of my abandonment issues, notice that I rarely miss so much as day blogging; I rarely miss a horoscope; I strive to run a dependable business at all costs; when you get to Planet Waves, I want you to know somebody is home. I do my very best to reply to every email (when dozens come in at once, it's harder). I want to ensure a sense of community participation. Call it compensatory behavior; call it Chiron turning a wound into power, but I want the lights on around the clock at this URL."

Not that it matters but I wonder whether you have realized something about yourself that you probably already know from therapy.

That when you do the opposite of what was a bad experience, you do not actually heal the bad experience, but feed it with the same "behavioural pattern", which keeps you "fixed" and "blocked" from being totally free from your initial fear. (Being abandoned to never abandoning).

Then about relationships;

If a relationship is built on believing and supporting two whole individuals - is there still space to be together as two halves (imperfect and needy) and merge? Or does it need to be either one (being independent) or the other (being dependent)? For me, it is hard to understand how one can be in a man-woman love relationship without also merging and being dependent.

Don´t get me wrong - I am a strong, whole individual (with my own issues), like my partner - but to just be that without leaning on my partner in areas where I am weak, or supporting him where I am stronger, would not give me enough "spark" to be in a man-woman love relationship. Instead, it would be more like a very close and comfortable friendship. The spark is the differences and polarity in both strengths and weaknesses as well as being male vs. female. Equal to fiery fighting and passionate or sensitive lovemaking.

There is a danger in being so whole, as there is a danger in being "half".

I'm not saying I´ve worked it all out though. I´m still working on it too - and finding the balance is always really hard - but it usually helps when I know where my commitment lies. My commitment can lie on simultaneous levels - for eg. in freeing myself of patterns (based on some kind of fear), it can be my love relationship, my children and finally but not least myself.

That all said, the real magic happens when I can hold on to my commitments/responsibilities AND let go simultaneously - let life lead me and me lead life.

Hugs from a rainy day in Denmark

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