How did you do at your meditation yesterday? Were you able to hold your attention on your schoolmate or co-worker’s perspective? Did you learn something about them that makes them more human, more connected, more deserving of your empathy? If you did that much you did a lot.
Today we’ll focus on the differences between the genders. What’s it like to live in your society as the opposite sex? Men have more personal freedom and often a greater sense of safety, a woman will have more freedom to experience her full range of emotions but she will feel almost instantly less safe. These are not small challenges for each gender to face. These are some of the biggest issues each group has.
It’s terrible to say, but even in a modern country like Canada the most recent stats show women making on average 72 cents for every dollar a man makes. Guys, just take whatever you buy today and multiply the cost by 1.28 and you’ll quickly realize it would take you far longer to recover or get ahead. And remember–these are for a lot of the same kinds of jobs.
Guys–imagine how ridiculously unfair you would think that was if it was men of your colour, nationality or body type? How would you feel if something arbitrary like that almost certainly guaranteed that you would be up for fewer promotions, get sexually harassed, and make 72% of the guy’s pay? Face it: we’d be furious and we would take action. And if our sisters and mothers and wives and daughters didn’t leap to help us that would feel terrible.
Ladies–imagine how difficult it is to be the one who is carrying the lion’s share of the total costs of living? Most people couldn’t maintain important aspects of their lifestyle without their 72% salary being married to a 128% salary. And maybe you make more, but you don’t feel like you could leave your job if you’re being abused, mistreated, threatened or even if you just can’t stand it. Without the guy the household topples and everyone’s living a much different lifestyle. That can be extremely stressful at time and it can make work feel like a jail.
Whether it’s work feeling like a jail or a dark street feeling like a very real threat, we walk through each day without an enormous amount of consideration for how the other half lives. Just watch your spouse for one day and imagine doing what they’re doing. Imagine if all of the responsibilities were swapped? Imagine if you had to even know what they know, or if ladies couldn’t call friends when they were distraught or men couldn’t protect themselves in everyday situations.
The fact is, you probably haven’t had much cause to think at all about your spouse’s or brother’s or mother’s or son’s lives. Doing so will expand your awareness and that will open you up and that will feel good. Get out of your head. Establish empathy with more people. Stop thinking about how they affect you and start thinking about how they are impacted by you.
There is greater connection and increased respect between people who understand each other’s experience. Men will never know what it’s like to have a baby and women will never know what it’s like to first in line for dangerous duty, but we can invest ourselves in the healthy action of leaving our own thoughts and worries behind for a day so that we can expand our meditating abilities and establish better relations with the opposite sex. Actually do it. It will expand who you are.
Now go have a great day everyone. I gotta go figure out where I’m gonna put this tampon….
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations around the world.