Relationing and Sex––Has Feminism Made Us Happier?

Anne Mason and Thea Mason

Sisters Anne Mason and Thea Mason continue their discussion about men, women and relationships, male and female archetypes, and sex as a relationship indicator signal––asking the question: Has feminism made us happier?

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Transcript below:

Anne:                                         00:01                       Okay. Hi,Thea.

Thea:                                         00:03                       Hi, Anne.

Anne:                                         00:06                       So we’re both outside today for a variety of reasons and houses, houses full of kids and people. So we, we talked about wanting to just start exploring–– I kind of like the way you put it. I’d almost like you to open this up.

Thea:                                         00:27                       Sure. we were sort of going off of our last conversation where we were speaking about men and women and the dynamics and roles. And I was just remarking that, you know, I wanted to acknowledge that everything that we’re saying and all that we’re bringing to this comes from our own experiences of life, our reflections and us waking up and piercing through the, the veil of false beliefs that we had digested and consumed from our culture, from society about what it is to be a woman what it is to be in relationship with a man. And I think that goes where we’re going, essentially.

Anne:                                         01:13                       Yes, yes, yes. And it was important for me when you highlighted that, that we talk about that because it’s, it’s just a process and a journey. I mean, not to get cliche, but this is just all a process of discovery and examination. And that’s part of what this dialogue is, right?

Thea:                                         01:41                       Looking towards, you know, understanding ourselves our life up to this point, our life from this point forward to be able to move forward with more mindfulness, with real clarity about our choices and the ways in which we choose to act and the roles that we wish to inhabit. You know, with the real clarity of mind about it.

Anne:                                         02:07                       Yes. as well as identifying some things that help us, help guide us, help, help guide us in teaching our children and helping our children understand the world and understand relationships and understand each other.

Thea:                                         02:28                       Yeah. I think if I can just jump in with that, you know, I, it’s been extremely heightened for me because I have three sons to raise into the world, and I think that has woken me up to so many of the imbalances and false ideas that I was raised with. Uin terms of looking ahead for my sons and what kind of world that they’re stepping into, what kind of world they’re looking for a mate in and what kind of mate they would be looking for.

Anne:                                         03:04                       As well as, if I can interrupt, based on another conversation we’ve had off-camera, as well as our responsibility in shaping the world that they’re coming into. Right? And our responsibility as women to help direct that. Right? And part of what sparked this idea for this conversation was something I had shared to you, which I had also posted in a comments, maybe about our last conversation about men and women. And the title of that one–– “Let men shine.” Right? And much of the crux of it, I felt was allowing men to be men, women to be women, not expecting them to be other than they are. And to recognize and acknowledge the strength in that, the beauty and strength in that rather than the lacking––that the man doesn’t have enough of the woman in him or the woman doesn’t have enough of the man. And I had reflected on, it’s funny what, whatever that blue jay, is it a blue jay? A crow?

Thea:                                         04:30                       Yeah, there’s crows. There’s a bit of a battle with the parrots up in the tree up here.

Anne:                                         04:33                       With the parrots, right. Yeah. Tough life here in California. I was reflecting on the fact that I now realize that when I was a kid and growing up as the young woman, just even in listening to, reading stories, learning about days of old when men and women were it was much more accepted, I suppose for want of a better word for women and men to inhabit traditional roles and to approach an understanding of each other through an acknowledgement of those traditional roles that we each inhabited.

Anne:                                         05:26                       And I remember kind of feeling as if––and I, and I think because of the culture I was growing up in and the way I was being taught by a feminist, feminist parents really––was that, to kind of throw that out, to disregard that, that that was kind of an archaic way of looking at things, a limited, archaic way of looking at things almost. You know, stories where a woman is being taught the art of being a woman by her mother. Being taught that men are like this and men need this and this is how you can help the man come to understand this, etc. Etc. Without directness kind of, you know a kind of subtle way of guiding.

Thea:                                         06:23                       I would say, maybe, not, not using the word “without directness,” but with an appreciation for that which the man is and that which the man provides and for the acceptance of it. So it’s able to be subtle without it being sticky, right?

Anne:                                         06:45                       Yes. Or Yes. Heavy handed. Because, so that we can still dance with each other, acknowledging these differences, but not throwing it in each other’s faces because that kind of ruins the mystery of it. Right?

Thea:                                         07:02                       Mmhm. So, I was just thinking that this is sort of the, what we had touched upon when we were discussing this beforehand that it’s like we’re in a world where nobody’s happy in the role that they’re allowed to be in. And there’s this sort of constant, seeming battle in, in the broader culture of the way women feel men are or should be or aren’t, or the way that they’re not allowing a woman to be recognized or given due credit for. Or, you know, I’m being a little bit too vague, but, but because, because of this, what, what, what the impulse of feminism, like there was a need for women to be able to step out of being locked into a particular role for sure.

Anne:                                         08:02                       Or being suppressed, right. You know, supressed.

Thea:                                         08:05                       Not acknowledge or, you know, not glorified, not being recognized. You know, and appreciated properly. Maybe. I’m not sure, but it seems like everything got thrown out instead of finding––how can I be then appreciated and loved and cherished, I mean cherished. How can we cherish one another for the work that we do because we do different work, and we can’t do the same because what’s happening right is, is in this world where we’re, it’s like everything’s about trying to do the same work. For a man to show “I can mother just as well as a mother” or a mother to be just as much of a father and no one’s really pleased, it seems. Is anyone more happy with this sort of throwing out the archetypes? You know? I guess what I would try to say is it seems to be, we need to be able to recognize it’s an archetype. That it’s not something you’re limited by. We’re not only that. But that is one in which as a woman I can inhabit when I’m with the man. When I’m not with the man, I don’t get to only be that archetype, I have to do this, this, this and this and vice versa. But it’s, so it’s like, instead of throwing out the archetype entirely, let’s just recognize we don’t have to be stuck in one. Yes. But we can be in one and it can be beautiful and freeing and make us all happier if we’re meeting each other in that archetypal way.

Anne:                                         09:46                       Yes. We all in different capacities throughout our lives inhabit different roles. Just even from the more basic perspective of looking at children. We’ve talked a lot about this and, and the different pedagogies and and, and why it’s important for children to spend time with youngers and olders so that they can inhabit more than one role. Right? They can be the older and the teacher. They can also be the younger and the not knowing and the learner and that humbles them a bit.

Thea:                                         10:21                       And makes them secure, also being able to be secure when you’re able to be in different roles and be held by those in the other roles.

Anne:                                         10:31                       Yes. Right, right. And, and so by the same token, if we can make it more okay to inhabit the archetype of man and woman while we are in that relationship, that keeps things, um to me it seems like it’s…I mean, we’ve worked through this for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. Like let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water, right? We’ve established some wonderful dynamics and a dance and a rhythm that works pretty well. A distribution of labor, if you will, you know, in the world. And that does not mean that when we are not inhabiting, that does not mean that when we’re not in that dynamic that we can’t also take on, step in, step in for each other. Right? And experience that, exercise, that and add another string to our bow. Right? So yeah, that’s where I see the issue and, and where, where are we on time?

Thea:                                         12:01                       We’re good. We’ve got another 10 minutes. So I’m not sure what we’ve said yet all the way. We’ve kind of laid a broad groundwork. But I guess the question that comes out of this, this dialogue really that I, I’ve been thinking about is, are we happier? Are people happier? Are marriages better? Are relationships better? Are, you know, are families healthier and happier? Are kids healthier and happier with this, with this movement that we have been in the last 40 years, you know, 50? What year is it? Um you know, what’s the outcome? Where have we gotten to? And from my limited perspective, which I grant is limited, I see that often, relationships fail. Often, there’s this, this struggle that isn’t able to be resolved and worked with. And then, you know, when looking at marriages, it takes a whole lot of courage and commitment for people to really make something continually work and grow and change with the continuous growth and change of each individual. Most often what I’m witnessing is a bitterness after 20 years.

Anne:                                         13:30                       A resentment I’m seeing that we witnessed in our parent’s marriage. Right? as far more resentment than gratitude. And you and I have had the experience really throughout you know, we both, we lost our parents quite some time ago. And so that’s given us an opportunity to have perspective and reflect in a way that one doesn’t have, when the parents are still around and still in that dynamic. And we recognize really what an amazing we had. And yet their marriage was so riddled with strife and resentment. There was a lot of resentment on Mom’s part toward Dad. And, and so we’ve talked a little bit about this and so many friends I know and, and past relationships I’ve had too, right? I mean, I’m almost 50 years old, right? It’s taken me this long to even be able to articulate what we’ve just talked about, about: Wait a minute! Traditional roles, men and women’s traditional roles, there’s some merit to this and, and a relationship, I don’t care how you cut it, does not work with blame and resentments at the heart of it. And it takes two, absolutely two, and and they, they do need to support each other, respect each other, support each other. And want the best for each other. Right? because without that, I know Jordan Peterson has articulated this and many others, but it’s so obvious! Without both people being lifted up, the whole union falls apart and it gets no one anywhere.

Thea:                                         15:33                       And it may fall apart really slowly ,like a slow demise. And the thing that I think I mean just on that, and then I have this other thought I want to go back to is, you know, and if there are children in that relationship, that are out of that union and the demise is slow and steady and unspoken, that for me, I feel like––of course from my own experience as a child in our family and then my own situation for my children––that’s what they’re ingesting, of how relationship is. And you know, if we want to free our children to, to cultivate something more positive and true, we have to have the courage to name our problems, to name our responsibility within those problems.

Thea:                                         16:38                       And that just leads me to––in a marriage, in a relationship, if you’re not having sex, then there’s a problem. And that is like a major signal, right? And it doesn’t mean if you’re having sex, everything’s good either. But if you’re not having sex, then there is a big channel of communication that is not happening, which is what makes you be in a relationship as with a mate, you know? And if that’s not there, it takes courage and honesty to go there and discover why is it? You know, when I think about our dad, as great as he was, there was obviously something missing in the way he was seeing our mom and the way she was able to see him so they could reflect back to each other what was beautiful, which would make them want to be in union. Right? Because we want to be, you know, we want to be getting brighter.

Anne:                                         17:36                       Yes, yes. I think that is key.

Thea:                                         17:40                       Get it? It’s a key.

Anne:                                         17:46                       Well, no, I mean, and, and so, and now what are we, I still, because my eyes are so bad, I can’t see how much more time?

Thea:                                         17:52                       We have five more minutes.

Anne:                                         17:52                       Okay. So just, just to start with this will––this will be continued later. But yes. It’s a big issue. It’s a big issue. We, we, you know, so many friends, so many, so many couples in really miserable situations and the sex, making love, that physical connection, it does reflect on the health of the relationship. It’s also the biggest signal to say stop, take a look at each other and have a very open and honest conversation. Because you cannot keep going on like that and allowing this chasm to get wider and wider. It’s not gonna move toward anything healthy that I can imagine in a marriage. And so you have to figure out why that is. You have to ask for what you need, I suppose, but you have to also equally, if not more, respect what it is that other person is also able and willing in that moment to give. And figure out then how to make it work between those two.

Thea:                                         19:34                       And how to really truly appreciate that which is given, right? That, which is offered and that––but this is such a huge conversation and subject matter really. But in thinking of families and parents, my goodness, you know, when, when children are young, it’s like near impossible to, to have as a, as a mother, you don’t have much force for being sexual when they’re young, right? You’re, you’re kind of maxed out.

Anne:                                         20:06                       You don’t have a lot of extra. It’s true. And so you may not be able to be as present as, as you might have been earlier or later.

Thea:                                         20:18                       Or later. And the thing I guess I wanted to say with that is, you know, that’s a part where it makes me think that so much of what we’re, we’ve been fed through media in various forms has altered people’s real ability to meet what is before them. You know, life is not a 30 minute sitcom.

Anne:                                         20:42                       Nor is it a a porn flick. Right?

Thea:                                         20:47                       Right. And so it’s like, it’s not going to be neatly wrapped up in one, one idea or another. And if we can in relationship be true enough with ourselves to meet the person in front of us, which means we cannot be caught in our own ideas of what reality is supposed to be. Right? So if we can meet what’s really there, then real relationship can happen. And real relating can happen. I like the term and I know it’s not one, but “relationing.” Like it’s a little bit outside of relating and it’s not relationship, but it is the practice of being in relationship to the relationship itself.

Anne:                                         21:34                       Being in relationship to the relationship itself. Yes. But I think I also get from it: Relationing. Really, it is relating. Yes. But it is meeting each other, seeing each other as clearly as we can. I mean, yeah, we’ve got lots of filters that we have to work through, but as clearly as we can and accept––after we establish that each person actually wants to be there––to then accept what it is each one is able to bring to it and be grateful for that. Yeah. And work together to figure out how it then can form the relate the, the, the relationing, right? So yeah, I mean I think we can end it there right. For now. And, and keep working with this, because men and women both need to work on that. Right? yeah. We need to work on getting through those oftentimes where we’re, we’re not quite in the same…

Thea:                                         23:01                       Groove?

Anne:                                         23:01                       Same groove. But both parties are willing to still meet there despite how they’re feeling or that one doesn’t feel that they’re getting as much from the other as they want, but they’re still willing to do it because they care so much about the relationship and each other. Then the focus on being grateful for what that is rather than focusing on what it is not, will eventually get us to those glorious moments when we meet perfectly and synchronously and harmoniously. And I think that the more we do that and establish trust with each other, the more frequent those moments occur. Yeah. Because it is true relationing then.

Thea:                                         23:55                       Truly beautiful. I know. There’s so much more to say, but this was wonderful for a quick one, touch-in.

Anne:                                         24:03                       Yeah. Another, another quick one. Okay. All right. What’d you say?

Thea:                                         24:08                       A quickie if you will.

Anne:                                         24:14                       A quickie. There are many kinds of quickies, and here is hopefully one of them. Hang on a sec and I’ll stop.

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Let Men Shine

Anne Mason and Thea Mason

My sister Thea Mason and I discuss the inherent and glorious differences between men and women, and how reverence for each other’s strengths and ways of being allows each one of us to reach our fullest potential––individually and as part of the whole.

Transcript below:

Anne:                                         00:00                       Record to the cloud. Hi Thea.

Thea:                                         00:02                       Hello, Anne. Good to see you!

Anne:                                         00:06                       And you. So, well, let’s be real here. We’ve had a lot going on in our lives. We both have. And are a bit distracted and there’s just, there’s a lot swirling and swimming, and we weren’t sure what we were gonna talk about here. There’s a lot we could get into. And we chatted some before we started recording and got to our fav, one of our favorite subjects, which is men, right? Which is men. And decided to just start to touch on this. We’ll try to make this one quite a short one and just, just get a taste right now and see where this leads us. But we talked, we talked, first of all about a comment thread that we were having on online where somebody, a friend of ours, was mentioning something about the length of these podcasts. And I made reference to how kind of windy we get in our conversations as women do, versus men who might be a bit more linear in the conversation. And I made some mention about, you know, that’s, that’s what we need men for to kind of, as you put it, bring it to the point. Right?

Anne:                                         01:38                       And, and so we started talking about that, that the, the balance between men and women, the, the fact that women and men need each other to be, and to become, in the way––as my husband had articulated it recently––you can’t, did he say, “You can’t see the moon without the sun.” Right?

Thea:                                         02:15                       Right. Precisely. Well, I’ll take it for a second. If that’s all right? It just sparked just that comment sparked a little bit for me. Being a pretty strong willed, strong and forceful woman myself in the world. You know, there’s, there’s something I think in our culture that I, I hear, you know, I see things, women posting, things about, you know, it’s not about finding your…the right knight or be your own knight or be, which is of course, true. Be your own best self. Become your own most fierce, compassionate, beautiful being you can be.

Thea:                                         03:08                       But I still want to find that most beautiful and compassionate manly mirror to myself. And it doesn’t, that does not negate me becoming my best self, to find and look for that noble man who can stand strong and shine his bright sunshine into my moonshine.

Anne:                                         03:33                       Yes! And to, to add to what you were saying like, okay, right. The spirit, we get the spirit of like, yeah, “Be your own knight.” Right? But what I think it’s meaning is find your own strength, right? To operate from. Don’t use someone else’s strength to fill that which you can develop in yourself. But…

Thea:                                         04:01                       And that goes for men and women both because…no one’s happy that way.

Anne:                                         04:05                       It goes for people, right? Right. Then that’s not balanced. But men and women are inherently different. The Sun is not the Moon.

Thea:                                         04:19                       And the sun is constantly whole and bright. No matter if we see it or not.

Anne:                                         04:27                       And the moon goes through her stages and the moon retreats to her inner world, she shows only parts of herself, right? At times. And then there are times, and as you pointed out there, there is a rhythm there. It is cyclical. She comes around and shows her full self, right? And meets him fully in that way. But the only way she can meet him fully is to be allowed to go inside, and go down her own paths of doing and being, which is not the sun’s way. But at the same time, the sun, like you pointed out, yes, he goes behind the clouds sometimes. Right? But he needs those, you know, he does it in a different way. I mean, it’s, that’s an external retreat rather than internal retreat. He’s still, he’s still there, that bright sun all the time and he can’t be expected to travel, to travel, to traverse those realms with her.

Anne:                                         05:53                       She can’t expect that of him. She can’t expect him to…

Thea:                                         05:58                       Be different than he is?

Anne:                                         06:00                       Yeah! And! She must––in the way he must allow her to do her thing and travel her path, and also to cherish that path that she travels and regard it and honor it––she must do the same for him. While he shines bright and strong no matter what’s going on. That is, that is beautiful. And that is something to revere and give him credit for or whatever. Right? Go ahead.

Thea:                                         06:43                       Well, and it’s something, it’s something that can be counted upon. You know, in saying, you know, we can’t expect the sun to, to act differently than the nature of the sun. And we can’t ask the moon to really behave differently than the nature of the moon. And when we do that, ask that, so being clear as man and woman, when we’re asking man and woman to behave differently than they inherently are given the rhythm of behaving, something becomes really distorted and lost and out of orbit in terms of the way they get to support one another and meet one another and all that they hold between their two spheres. You know, all of this world of reality that functions between the dynamic of man and woman or sun and moon, you know, that becomes distorted if these dynamics are distorted as well. And one of the thoughts I’ve had in thinking of the sun, you know, shining bright––on some days, it’s so piercingly bright and hot that you have to find shade. You need to take cover and adjust how you meet it, how, what, what of the sun can you take in today? You know? And some days you can take all of the sun and bask in it, you know, and bathe in it in all of its glory.

Thea:                                         08:12                       And sometimes you can’t! And sometimes you need to create your own shade blanket because it’s too fierce or it’s, you know not soft enough. And that doesn’t mean that the sun doesn’t know how to go behind the clouds. Sometimes, you know, sometimes to give a little cover from its intensity or its piercing one-pointedness. Sometimes it has to become a little diffused, but that’s not constant. You know, it has to be able to move. I’m getting a little bit sideways, except I think it’s really just how can we as women, how can we honor that space of the sun? How can we honor that space of the man so that, that sun and that man can honor the space of the moon and the woman? That’s where it has to come from.

Anne:                                         09:07                       Absolutely. And we’ll, we’ll probably decide to have a longer, more material conversation about that. But thoughts occurred to me like, you know, w we can’t we can’t expect them to––I mean, there’s the comics, the standup comics make all the jokes about this and everything––but we can’t expect them to be women. We can’t expect to have the same conversations that we have with our women friends. We can’t expect them to read us the way our female friends read us. We can’t expect them to speak our language. We can expect them to try to read it and decipher it best they can. But, you know, and I think of it like, you know, just, you know, the way we, we women process things the way we need to understand the world. I think we, you know, at least my own experience is, as I’ve gotten older, of course I’ve always had my, my great female girlfriends, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to recognize the depth and strength of and sacredness of those relationships separate than my male relationships. Equally significant. Right? but I’ve been able to, as I’ve gotten older, and maybe it’s, it’s kind of as one becomes more whole and is looking less to other people in the world to fulfill something in them. We’re able to regard, I’m sorry, let me just pause this for one moment. Okay. so, I sure think it’s, it’s important to recognize that those relationships are very different. They are just as important, but neither is more important. And they each have their time and place.

Thea:                                         11:34                       Absolutely.

Anne:                                         11:36                       And I had made a joke. Well, I, I’d responded to that comment where I’d said, you know, I think women, women need to get rid of the attitude and get back to gratitude a little bit in terms of the men bashing because the comment, yeah, the comment was “Wow. Women who like men?” Have I even talked about this in our recording? But like talking about “Women, women who like men? Wow. Can you believe that?” And I was saying that, you know, I’m, I’m in all seriousness, I’m a little sick of the men bashing. It’s just, you know, I have a son!

Thea:                                         12:15                       I have three! Yeah.

Anne:                                         12:18                       Exactly. And I don’t want to hear this right? We can hold people accountable without tearing them down. So…

Thea:                                         12:32                       And if we don’t hold people accountable in a respectful way, we’re not going to get anything we want.

Anne:                                         12:40                       And that’s the other thing I pointed out, which is how really just nonsensical and impractical it is. It’s like a relationship between a man and a woman, or really a relationship between anyone. Right? Unless you are planning to leave the relationship, then coming at it with blame and accusation gets us nowhere. The only thing that does get us somewhere is to find more and more effective ways of communicating our needs, our dissatisfactions, whatever it is, but also in a bolstering, supportive way and manner that allows that other person to see that you can see their best selves, so that they can rise to their best selves. And you know, one of the critical components to that is to allow that which they are to be strong and work with that. So.

Thea:                                         13:44                       Because we can’t, because we can’t, I mean in my observations of my life and through friends, if we don’t ask for what we’re looking for or what we need and find ways towards building that, there’s, there’s no one to blame but ourselves. But we can, but we can guide those things. I mean, when you have a relationship that’s growing together, you know, you have to know when you have to put your oar in and you have to redirect something because it’s important.

Thea:                                         14:25                       And if it’s not important, don’t keep going along, building resentment about it quietly until you explode and burn the whole thing to the ground. You know, if we’re not each from each side, man and woman, if you’re not investing in one another towards building a house together, that is one of both liking it, you know, then it’s like then you get angry and that’s what it seems like our culture is so much in, it’s like, how do we build the house together. It’s a, it’s been this building, building, building of quiet anger that’s now coming out with, you know, a fierce, irrational lashing. And burning it all to the ground when the reality is, and I think this hearkens back to our first conversation we recorded, women are the stewards of humankind, of, of humanity. And we are raising these boys to become men. Whose job is it? It’s ours as well as the fathers, but just simply out of biology, the fathers aren’t always around. And so if the woman is the one who’s in charge of that, if my young men grow up and they are not good men, that’s on me.

Anne:                                         15:45                       Absolutely! I, can I, there’s something in this to flesh out later, but something that I’ve said long ago is…

Thea:                                         16:04                       Sorry, I’ll turn my timer off again. So sorry.

Anne:                                         16:06                       Okay. It’s your bread timer. Okay. Hold on. Like the typical woman you are. Let me pause the recording…Okay. So Thea is folding her dough right now while she, while she podcasts here. Someone I, I used to know who is no longer with us, but used to say you can get anything done in this world as long as you don’t take credit for it. Right? And that has stuck with me. And I have said since then that I feel that part of the problem between men and women is this newer need for women to get credit for the work they do. And which maybe is why there’s this pursuit of recognition in the field of men, in the realm of men. Because men are more out here, external, the work they do.

Thea:                                         17:09                       Look at the sun!

Anne:                                         17:11                       Exactly. The work they do is more measurable and quantifiable. Whereas the work we do, again like the moon, the inner work, but the inner work on, on the level of family, of children, of parenting, of being a wife to a husband, to being a woman, a supportive woman to a man and helping him navigate and maneuver in the world. We sometimes do that quietly behind the scenes. We are just as responsible for, for the result of it. Right? But we don’t, I feel it’s important that women remember that we don’t we don’t actually need the, the worldly recognition to that degree ’cause we know it. So anyway that’s so that’s all for another conversation. Let’s try to keep these a little shorter. This is food for thought for everyone. You know, I’d love it if people would chime in and, and bounce these ideas.

Thea:                                         18:13                       Share their thoughts and ideas.

Anne:                                         18:13                       ‘Cause There’s something, there’s something to this. So once again, thanks, Thea. We’ll do this again soon and have fun with the bread.

Thea:                                         18:23                       Thanks very much.

Anne:                                         18:23                       And hang on, let me just, let me end the recording and we’ll talk for a sec. Stop.




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