I am reading a really good Tantra book at the moment, describing the philosophy and application of a particular Tantric practice. (And also heaps of really interesting perspectives on Tantra in general.) Then last night I came across two sentences that really irked me. (The attitudes they reflect are far from unique to this author, which is why I am not going to mention the name of this specific book.)
Here’s one of those sentences, from a section talking about what women 'need' to know about men: “Approval – yours – is all he is looking for.”
Well, one of the best Menswork events I ever went to had a chunk that was specifically about how to stop needing the approval of women. It was one of the most useful and empowering things I ever attended. It’s had lasting concrete effects - hugely improved my ability to relate to women and stay in my centre.
From my side of things I no longer seek or want a woman’s ‘approval’. Approval to me means ‘proving myself’, means hoping that someone feels/thinks I am ‘good enough’. In essence for me this would mean pinning my self-worth on the opinion/judgments of another, which is a recipe for disaster, and an invitation to an ‘apologist’ perspective. There’s only one person’s approval that is essential to me, and that’s my own. External approval or disapproval is an 'opinion', NOT a reflection of reality.
In relationship, if approval matters at all for me it’s simply a no-brainer background feature. As in: Why the hell would someone be in an intimate connection with me if they don’t ‘approve’ of me, and in general approve of how I lead my life? I do not need to measure up to a woman’s definition of what a man should be. If she doesn’t like the flavour of masculinity that I am, or doesn’t want to make the effort to get to know who I truly am behind her projections around men, then it’s probably not a good idea for us to connect in a personal way.
The Menswork event I went to explained that seeking approval from women is a throwback to our socially unhealthy over-dependence on the mother relationship. Boys perhaps benefit from ‘approval’. As a man, what I want from a woman that is probably the alternative to what the author is trying to get at here is: authentic expression, clear communication (especially in this context if something I do doesn’t feel good to her), and passion. Not based on her ‘approval’ of me, but based on her trust in my presence and intention. In fact, based on her ‘appreciation’ of me as a man and as a human being. Now that (‘appreciation’) is the word that fits much better in this context in my opinion.
This piece in the book is talking about mastering a specific practice. However, it is phrased as if this is general advice about how to handle your man. If your man is consistently behaving in ways that try to get your approval, the best thing you can do is probably to suggest that he gets himself along to some good Menswork or Personal Development around self-acceptance and finding personal passions in life.
Do men really want to be seeking women’s approval as foundation to our self-worth? Depending on someone else's personally-biased opinion as to whether we feel good about who we are?
In closing I will say that seeking women’s approval does seem to be very fashionable in all kinds of different ways in this society. The hen-pecked husband, the smooth-talker with the hidden agendas, or even many men in general - as soon as we feel attracted to someone.
It's not necessarily an easy road to:
- stand up to your partner and risk the end of the relationship,
- stop using hypnotic charm and switch to integrity and rawness, OR
- explore the possibility of mutual attraction from an embodied sense that you are awesome and have heaps to offer a woman...
But it's not about perfection, it's about being on the road and continuing to evolve.
Approval to me is a ‘good enough?’ checkbox. The idea of which makes me shudder with wrongness.
Appreciation, however, has a sense for me of 'perception', 'connection', 'noticing', 'trusting' and 'engaging on an empathic and energetic level'.