In celebration of women everywhere we want to share with you this excerpt from Love, Sex, And Your Heart by Alexander Lowen, M.D. followed by a new essay by Frederic Lowen:
“One of the unfortunate consequences of the feminist movement has been its tendency to encourage women to blame men for their lack of fulfillment and sense of inferiority. Such a reproach to the male sex is not warranted. We have seen throughout this book that men are no more fulfilled in love and sexuality than women are. In terms of their vulnerability to heart disease and to early death, they are the weaker sex.
It cannot be denied that they are stronger in such areas as politics, business, and the professions, all of which involve the acquisition and use of power. That power has often been used against women. But it is important to recognize that the possession of power and its use has not promoted the well-being of men. They have not loved more, lived longer, or had more joy because of it. In any relationship, the use of power harms the user as much as it does the person who is subject to it. As we have seen, power is destructive to love.
The issue between the sexes is one of equal respect, not one of equal
power. What this means is that a woman should be treated with the same consideration as a man. Equal pay for equal work is her natural right as a person. Unfortunately, the phrase equal work is misleading. We are familiar with the idea that a woman executive should receive the same pay as a man in the same position. But what about the woman in charge of a nursery school? Is her work any less important? Shouldn’t she be paid the same as any other person who shoulders important responsibilities?
And the woman who stays home raising a family—is her work inferior?
If we measure value solely in terms of money, we introduce power into
all human relationships.
If women pursue power to the same degree that men have, they will
fall heir to the same illnesses that have shortened men’s lives. Fortunately, women are protected to some degree from this danger by their natural function as childbearers. So far in our history the drive in women to bear children has been stronger than the drive for power. But a woman’s fulfillment lies not just in bearing children but in loving them. Here, too, nature has given her an advantage over the male sex, for she can express her love for her children more directly than a man through the act of nursing. Just as women who nurse babies are less prone to develop breast cancer, it is believed that they are less vulnerable to heart disease.
Broadly speaking, women are less afraid of love than men. They are
less afraid to show emotions, less afraid of being tender, less concerned
with their image. Women can cry more easily than men, partly because,
as boys, men were pressured to be strong. A prohibition against breaking down may have made sense when men were hunters and warriors whose primary role was to protect the tribe. But rigidity in the face of a loss is not the same thing as bravery in a situation of danger. To hold back one’s tears and sobs when a loved person dies is not an act of bravery but one of self-destruction.”
-- from Love, Sex, and Your Heart by Alexander Lowen, M.D.
Égalité?…..Oui! mais Vive la Différence!
by Frederic Lowen
What is feminism?....what is it to be a “feminist?” In this information age, an age of profound mind-body split, confusion is profound too. There is little agreement amongst women as to what a proper definition of feminism is or should be. To be clear, the question of what feminism is is secondary to the question of how might women’s lives be improved, considering the economic and political inequality and sexual suppression/repression that persists into the 21st Century.
To be sure, men are also confused in their changing masculine roles….but the larger suppression of women in the past is resulting in greater upward “social mobility” for women.
The confusion over sexuality and sexual expression, political equality, and the acquisition and use of power in the home and professionally is palpable. More so than academics, physicians and philosophers, psychotherapists have the opportunity and understanding to begin to sort out this confusion.
In the absence of this effort, it is left to the politicians to exploit this confusion. At a time when Donald Trump is perhaps the most powerful world leader, allowing politicians to proscribe roles for women is truly and obviously self-destructive. It betrays humans' inability to take responsibility for their own freedom.
Importantly, and I share this belief with Wilhelm Reich and my father Alexander Lowen, this inability to take responsibility and thereby enjoy one’s own freedom has a sociological origin. It is not biological or immutably genetic.
Further, this inability to “own one’s freedom” is at the heart of the unrelenting cycle throughout history (his-story). The non-sustainable creation of empire and the accumulation of power built at the expense of human misery, always crash and burn in chaos, mayhem, and war.
As a man, I support and applaud the contributions women make and have made, and hope for much more in the future. We sorely need an alternative to the patriarchal approach of power and control…..a recognition and greater appreciation for the ways of nature.
To echo Wilhelm Reich, who my father thought of as the most brilliant man he ever met, women need to own their sexuality: to resolve and transcend the conflict between being the life-sustaining mother, and the pleasure seeking/giving sexual being. Men and women both could do better to revere the healthy sexual expression and activity of women, just as they celebrate women’s roles as mothers.
Sexual issues are at the heart of our societal dysfunction much more than is recognized or acknowledged. The solutions to our dysfunction lie much more in the realm of our unconscious than we realize, especially so in the United States….or should I say Trumpland? Without that understanding we are doomed to repeat our self-destructive ways, just like any neurotic individual.
As a final thought, I want to ask: why are men involved in legislation pertaining to abortion and reproductive rights?....let alone why are they the final legislators/deciders? Men are entitled to their opinion, which should be considered, but it seems completely medieval that they should dictate such restrictions on other humans' freedoms; restrictions that will never apply to them. It is a women’s issue….Not a man’s issue!