Women’s way of knowing?

The internal union of masculine and feminine traits essential

As the second oldest of five girls raised in the 50s, I learned from my family and my catholic education what it meant to be a woman: get married, have babies, keep your husband happy with a well-kept home and lots of good cooking. The variety of roles women play has changed dramatically in my life time. Although we have more options than ever before in written history, how women are perceived by others is only one measure of this change. More important is how each of us view women as a group different from any group of men. And how do we as individuals see our self? How much effect does our internal thinking have on the way we see ourselves and others?

The first woman was nominated by one of America’s two major political parties to be president of the United States. Hilary Clinton won the popular vote by an estimated 2 million, yet she lost in the final count of the electoral college. Maybe not so much has changed? Clinton is my age, but her life took a different path. She mothered only one child rather than three, went to college after high school and earned a law degree. I began my formal education in my mid-30s and mastered Psychology when I was 50. Hilary has spoken out for women’s rights, and stood up for equal rights for people of color, lesbians and gay men during her career as a politician, often against strong opposition. As Secretary of State she was involved with controversial foreign affairs. And is it is often said that she has shady dealings with Wall Street. Her public and private life are under constant scrutiny. Because of the internet, both Bill and Hillary Clinton became international celebrities. I have no such claims to fame, other than a few academic articles and a published book on healthy relationships. And, I realize I still have not found my voice.

Through an ancient myth, titled Psyche and Eros, I learned something about life’s lessons. This story, written thousands of years ago when women did not have a public voice, illustrates the internal struggle between mental and emotional responses. This seemingly simple story proves that men have always endeavored to understand the roles women play in the development of civilization. This election process and the myth highlight realizations about conscience (ie: knowing right from wrong) and consciousness (becoming aware of how individuals think about what is right for them, yet wrong for someone else). In both the story and the election “collective unconscious” is illustrated by archetypes of what it means to be a man or woman. Neither are “right” or “wrong” any more than being black is more right than being white, or being rich is more wrong than being poor. Today men and women acknowledge this internal struggle as part of our daily lives, no matter where we fall on the spectrum of possibilities. Many people tap into universal distrust, or even hatred, for people who are different: whether they hold different beliefs, have a different color skin, or are part of a different economic class.

Most everyone would agree we have gender-based stereotypes in spite of the hard work of women’s liberation and recent findings in brain research, which prove that some women are just as capable of analytical, linear, rational thinking as some men. Many people argue that these left-brain mental abilities are more essential than their right-brain opposites, such as creativity and more holistic ways of viewing the world. Concepts of emotional desire and nurturing love are often thought of as “getting in the way” of being successful. However, some men are just as capable of nurturing and affection as any woman. Once we understand how the internal Psyche and Eros must work together, we see how inseparable they are and have been since early Greek and Roman times.

More to follow

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About Suzann Robins

I am an expert relationship coach and professional speaker on the topic of personality dynamics and the effect that have on relationships at home and at work. As a tai chi and yoga instructor, and a social science professor I have written a book that synthesizes Eastern Philosophy with Western Psychology.