The feminine mistake by John Milton Fogg

John Milton FoggIn Chapter 1 of her trail-blazing classicThe Feminine Mystique (1963), Betty Friedan ended saying, “We can no longer ignore that voice within women that says: ‘I want something more than my husband and my children and my home.’ Really…?  I didn’t understand. I liked opening doors for women and standing back letting them go first— and standing up when they entered the room or when they got up from the table. I enjoyed helping them on with their coats… pulling out chairs and pushing them in… serving them things. It thought good (I was being a gentleman) and felt good (the smiles and ‘obvious’ appreciation and pleasure the she showed me). That’s what I was taught. How I was brought (not brung) up. And all of a sudden, at the age when my hormonally-challenged yang was being stimulated to distraction by all things yin… I was told it was all wrong. A bad thing. And, by association then, so was I. I didn’t get it. What was wrong with being courteous, polite, respectful? Being a gentleman was something I was taught and thought was a worthy aspiration. NULL

When— more importantly why and how— did showing deference to a woman, because she was a woman, become condescending and dishonoring?

I had enough to deal with as a teenage male to add this feminist ‘bitchy’ bit to my confusion, please and thank you. (So polite, still.) I didn’t grow up in a nuclear family— though we had our explosive moments. I lived with my mom from the time I was two. The former Eleanor Roberts was a working mom, single mother, career woman. My time when not in school or— until I rebelled at 12 against a succession of mostly weird to the point of scary Monday through Friday afternoon baby-sitters— was spent with my mother or her friends. Save for a select collection of suitors (all of whom interestingly enough drove very sexy sports cars; XKE jag, Avanti, Corvette. Mrs. Fogg had her standards.), I hung out with my mom’s workmates and friends, 90 percent women. My mother never suffered fools among her female friends (nor men, for that matter). They were all bright, funny, hard-working and ambitious. Betty owned her own insurance company. Jeanette worked on Madison Avenue in what came to be looked back upon as the “Golden Age” of advertising. The 50s and 60s was ‘a man’s world’ but these women friends of my mother’s navigated it well. I didn’t get, and do not now, that any of my mom’s working-woman friends either heard or were haunted by a voice within saying, “I want something more than my husband and my children and my home.” They worked to earn a living, pay the bills, provide for themselves and their families.

Did they love their jobs…? You know, that never came up. I guess it just wasn’t an issue.

Jeanette had gone up the pay ladder as far as a woman could. The only thing they, the company (Parent’s magazine), could or would do was to give her a title: Vice President, but no more money. That clearly wasn’t fair. Elaine dished off a couple of boyfriends who made attempts at male domination. They always came back, changed men to some extent (she didn’t even open the door if they weren’t.) All the women I knew were smart and strong— either the bosses or invaluable to their superiors. They were my role models. And, as I saw it, there was nothing, no evidence in any endeavor of any kind— save those athletics that required 280 pound, six foot six size or the ability to lift that much— where women were not the equal of men or beyond. I sided with the acid-inspired wisdom of Timothy Leary:

“Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.”

I had the sense, due to my experience growing up with women and (probably) the inevitable comparison between my mother and father, that women were actually superior. I mean, I lived with my mom, not my dad. My mom took care of me, not my dad. My mom taught me about baseball, symphony, theatre, manners, books, sledding, riding a bike— even the Friday’s Night Fights, not my dad. In the 1970s, I studied a philosophy that held that women were indeed superior. All you needed for proof of that truth was to look at the sexes from a biological view. A woman was so much more complex and refined a human system. They could make a baby and give birth. Of course men participated in the process, but… I’ve watched all three of my children born au naturale. The ‘weaker sex’ is not in my vocabulary. A bias towards women, that’s what it is. That’s what I’ve got. I marvel at most of the women I know and know of. Of course there are the ditzy ones and the air-heads, dumb blondes (brunettes, etceteras), gold diggers, trophy wives and, as my mentor Carol McCall calls them, the “Southern Bells and Ball Busting Bitches”. No guys like that….

To be equal with men? Nah. Tim was right.

Equal pay, place, politics (but why would they want to?) and the like… sure. But women have the ability to access and achieve so much more. I believe (and no, it is not wishful thinking) we are moving into an age (and hope it lasts even longer than that) where what has for thousands of years been a paternal paradigm and man’s world/worldview, is rapidly evolving (by necessity, just look around) to the much, much more maternal. It is called ‘Mother Earth’ for a reason. The male-dominated models and methods all around us are falling apart. The military, corporations, law, politics, medicine, arts and entertainment, even religion, are transforming.

We are at the beginning of some of these EVEolutions, others are well into their feminization phase.

Network marketing is as much a symptom as it is a cause and co-creation. Look and see what is and is no longer working in MLM. Notice what’s happening to ‘throw ’em up against the wall and see who sticks’, hype and hustle, arm-twists and manipulative, coercive and high-pressure sales approaches. What’s happening to the widows and orphans of absentee uplines? How is teamwork working when there are only super-stars and I, me, mines who are not team players? What succeeds without Relationshipping, Friendshipping, Partnershipping and Leadershipping? Where’s the loyalty and longevity in a recruit, recruit, recruit, who cares about the products and who needs customers culture? How’s it going when it not always personal…? Kim Klaver’s right: Network marketing is a woman. I continue to open doors for women, stand when they come into the room, offer to help them with their coats, fill their glasses. They appreciate it. They say so. I let them go first, because they should. They deserve it.

If it wasn’t for women, I wouldn’t be here. If it wasn’t for women, network marketing wouldn’t be here. If it wasn’t for women….

“The feminine mistake” is not being aware of and fully engaged in the power and possibility of women… their rightful role… all our need for their leadership. One such aware and powerful woman, Marianne Williamson, once wrote (and wouldn’t you know, for years it was attributed to a man): Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. It’s time…. — JMF


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