Last May, after the federal election, women’s groups were encouraged by the election of 25% female MPs, up from 20% over the last two decades. McGill University student and new MP, Laurin Liu, was looking forward to her first debate on a panel of all women last week. Imagine how she felt when the male host said, “What a hot panel we’ve got tonight!” (Globe and Mail, Sat Feb 4, 2012, A5).
In that moment, Liu learned women need to have a thicker skin than men to survive on Parliament Hill.
But do men also have a greater calling to rise to their better selves because of this? The fundamental role of the masculine in a group is to discern what is of value and stand up for it. To separate good from evil. When faced with a situation that a man determines to be unjust he is archetypally called upon to rise up as the Lover King and form a safe container where what is valuable can exist.
Often this is at the expense of his comfort, and position in the old boy’s network. This type of leader, the Lover King, does it anyway because it is the right thing to do.
This is a call to all the men on Parliament Hill. When a woman is addressed in a condescending tone rephrase it; if a meeting is held in a venue where the women involved are not present, refuse to participate, offer another option. When a joke is made for an MP to smile so they can enjoy how pretty she is, offer an apology on behalf of men.
In each subtle (and not so subtle) case where life is made hard for women on the Hill there is an opportunity for men to stand up for what they believe is right, and what they see as valuable.
And women have been proven to be very valuable additions to the development of ideas. During the 2008 financial crisis several journalists including Micheal Lewis noted, “One of the distinct traits of the financial disaster is how little women had to do with it.” Several women tried to voice a warning that the process was flawed but they were dismissed. The lack of balance created by all male ventures leads to excessive drives to win, tendency towards aggression and face saving, a lack of compassion, and myopic vision. As the great Jungian psychologist, James Hollis, wrote, “Even when it is well intentioned, authority (read masculine ways of asserting power) will become an oppressor.”
Masculine ways of being are at their best when they are in balance with feminine wisdom. So here’s a message to all the men on the Hill. Let’s make it everyone’s business to take a bullet when necessary to make a place for women on the Hill. There will most likely be a backlash from the Tyrants but you’ll be richly rewarded with the self-knowledge that you are a good man.