Where We Walk: women and men leading together

Yvette Warren is a grandmother, the author of the blog One Family, Many Faiths and a newly ordained minister in the Universal Life Church.

“What happens when women lead?” A more important question, in my mind, is, “What happens when any segment of society is shut out of leadership?” I believe the answer is always subversion and rebellion, which often lead to anarchy, which results in accompanying rule by force and fear, attributes that we ascribe to the “masculine.”.

A good friend who is a church historian once reassured me that we must simply be patient with the chaos that ensued with the sixties and seventies because societies are brought to change with huge swings of the pendulum from one way to its direct opposite. He said that society will settle down somewhere in the center. M. Scott Peck said in his book, A World Waiting to be Born, that chaos is necessary before societies can truly change. The problem seems to be that we become frightened by the chaos and seek to go back to what feels familiar and safe. While I will not go back to the abuses of a patriarchal society, neither do I desire to be part of a movement that excludes men as mentors and masters in their areas of expertise.

There is a popular saying, “Behind every great man is a great woman.” Why are we always seeking to put one behind or beneath the other? While there is energy that we all have that is defined as “feminine” and also energy that is defined as “masculine” every person ever born is born of the energy of the two energies coming together. When the two energies are in balance, great things can be achieved.

Most of us have strengths and weaknesses carried forth from both of our parents and absorbed from influences on us by both sexes. In order to keep our relationship in balance, my husband says that we must clearly define, before each shared project, who is to be the officer and who is to be the enlisted. The one who is officer has all the responsibility for the planning and the outcome, and this officer position comes with commensurate authority.

He is better at soothing a crying baby than I am. When we babysit, I do the cooking while he does the cuddling. He defers to me as the officer because he doesn’t want dirty duties like diaper changing, but if I have to take over, he will take my direction in stirring the pots on the stove. Are any of these tasks strictly “feminine” or “masculine?”

For twenty years, my husband left all financial decisions solely to me. I recently became concerned that if something drastic should befall me, he wouldn’t even know where we kept the money he had earned. He is now figuring out his own system for money management, and I resist the urge to tell him how to do it. I no longer want all that officer’s responsibility; he now has the responsibility that goes with that authority. This has come with a price, in that part of his austerity program is that I make his breakfast and lunch before I head off to work. I’ll fix food any day if it keeps me from balancing a checkbook.

What I believe is the message of the sacred scriptures from the beginning of written history is that behind every great society are great men and women walking beside each other, each doing what has to be done, using all their sacred energies, both “masculine” and feminine.” “Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Walk beside me, and be my friend.”


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