There is a Serious Problem with How Some Men Relate to Women

 Vijai P. Sharma, Ph. D

There is a serious problem with how some men relate to women in intimate relationships. The old view of every man as a king and his home as his castle implies that every woman is a subject of her man's kingdom. This lays grounds for domestic exploitation and oppression. 

Many people still believe that a man's orders, right or wrong, must be carried out by his wife and children without any question. Men who believe this way do not know how to act as a benign authority. They rule their families more like dictators rather than benefactors. Such men believe that they have the right to punish their wives and children if they do not comply with their wishes, be they just or unjust 

The word "family" is derived from the Latin root "familia" which referred to the slaves owned by an individual. The term family before l7th century was being used for everything an individual owned, which included slaves, property, wife, and children. 

A "common man" in those days believed that he owned his wife and children in the same way he owned slaves and other property. "Rule of thumb" meant that a man may not beat his wife with a stick thicker than his thumb. Someone made a tongue in cheek reference to American constitution that says, "all men are created equal. " "Where does it say anything about women?, he asked. " 

Up until recent times, a man had the upper hand because he had the power to protect and feed the family. In the hunting days, men had the upper body strength to hunt more effectively. As the hunting era ended, we came into the food growing society. Men dominated the scene as the society needed warriors to protect its land, women, and property. Again, men were in the driving seat as their physical strength moved the machines in the industrial-society.

But we have now entered a highly automated, computerized, and technologically sophisticated society.  Physical strength is not required to hold the economic power; in fact, physical labor jobs are among the low- income jobs. Today, we need people who can use information to run computers and machines. In this "information and service age, " we need high level of education and the skills such as those of organization, communication, team building, negotiation, understanding, and empathy with others.

Unfortunately, many families are still raising boys to be hunters, soldiers, or physical laborers. As a result, when boys become "tough and aggressive," they begin to feel superior and believe that there is nothing else they need to learn or do in order to rule the world. 

If boys don't learn to get along with others, express calmly what is bothering them rather than throw a temper, resolve conflicts peacefully rather than aggressively, build a consensus rather than dominate, they will find themselves misfits and out-of place. Unfortunately, the machismo and masculine mystique which many men strive for doesn't include any of these skills. To do better in tomorrow's world, men will have to learn these skills. 

Within a few months of my coming to the U.S., I became aware of a deep chasm that exists between men and women in our society. I first came to work in the admission unit of a hospital. It was a wonderful place to work. I felt there was a lot of camaraderie in the people working in this building. 

Coming nine thousand miles away from my roots, I couldn't have asked for a better place. Women working in this large building would come to me and tell me about the problems they were having at home, their physical problems, problems with their kids, and their partners. I felt very privileged to be the confidante of so many women, but I often wondered what was going on. 

I thought to myself, they are confiding in me because women are kind and sensitive and they want me to feel at home. Other times, I thought they came to me because they knew that I am a therapist and I am used to listening to people's problems. Then I found out the real reason. 

One day at lunch hour, practically half of the women working in that building came to me and said, "Dr. Sharma, do us a favor. Take the men of this building somewhere and teach them how to talk to women and how to listen to them." 

I asked them what the problem was. They told me that men are so busy being macho men that they don't really listen. They don't let us forget that they are superior and we women know nothing. When they talk to us we feel they are putting us down, making fun of us or treating us as sex objects. 

Clearly, there seemed to be two species here, a male and a female species, that had very little in common. I am reminded of this experience whenever I see the title of a current bestseller, "Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. "


Return to Self Help 

Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 



Click for Dr. Sharma's credentials
Dr. Vijai Sharma
Your Life Coach
By Telephone

Feedback- Let us know how we are doing

Terms and Conditions

Web site designed and maintained by Chanda Taylor