I’ve worked with a lot of women over the years in my business, assisting them with health and lifestyle changes–which can bring up deeper emotional issues.

In this day and age being a woman is challenging, especially given the demands placed on us as mothers or spouses. By helping women to change undesirable lifestyle habits and unwanted challenges laid at their feet by families, colleagues and society, I try to empower them to be stronger in their personal and professional lives.

Meanwhile, society still has a long way to go before we reach total equality of the sexes, because on a spiritual level we often grossly misunderstand that vitally important goal. Having witnessed this disequilibrium around the world, I have found peculiarly that in the physical world, some men have actually become weaker and women have become stronger.

The aggressiveness of these women manifests itself in certain extreme instances, such as putting so much muscle on their bodies that they actually start to look like men. This confusion between mistaking external, physical strength for inner spiritual strength takes on a whole new meaning when pushed to the extreme. On the other hand, many males still look upon women as objects they can possess, disrespect, then use and discard.

Mother-of-twoOn another front, some of my married female clients have expressed to me how they have to do everything connected with managing the household with hardly any support from their husbands. They have full-time jobs outside the home. They take care of the household chores, and they attend to the children. Disturbingly, men complain about the lack of any good women that are loyal, drama-free, or mentally and spiritually stable.

These warring attitudes between men and women reflect a deeper spiritual unrest, much of it due to the global issue of the inequality of women as a whole. In the West, where women often have better legal rights than the restricted and controlled female population in some countries, we may not think we have far to go—but we do. Men have done and continue to do horrible things to women in every country around the world.

I tell my clients that physical strength is no indicator of a fairer playing field. Rather, men should realize that manly strength requires as its counterpart the strong contributions latent in women’s character. After all, woman is the first educator of the child. She is often more intuitive and keen sighted than men, and she is more tender-hearted. Surely when women emerge from the obscurity of inequality and male maltreatment, they will contribute to a better-educated and more peaceful planet.

Equality does not mean that both men and women have the same responsibilities or roles. Obviously women can’t always perform tasks demanding massive physical strength–but neither should men be expected to endure the pain of childbirth. We should try to understand equality in its spiritual context:

Daughters and sons must follow the same curriculum of study, thereby promoting unity of the sexes. When all mankind shall receive the same opportunity of education and the equality of men and women be realized, the foundations of war will be utterly destroyed. Without equality this will be impossible because all differences and distinction are conducive to discord and strife. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 175.

The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality between the sexes, is one of the most important, though less acknowledged pre-requisites of peace. The denial of such equality perpetrates an injustice against one half of the world’s population and promotes in men harmful attitudes and habits that are carried from the family to the workplace, to political life, and ultimately to international relations. There are no grounds, moral, practical, or biological, upon which such denial can be justified. Only as women are welcomed into full partnership in all fields of human endeavour will the moral and psychological climate be created in which international peace can emerge. – The Universal House of Justice, 1985.

For these reasons I focus my work on helping women gain strength–not only physically through exercise and movement; but on a deeper spiritual level, empowering them in teaching themselves and their children about their full and equal rights as human beings.

I do this work because I have suffered myself, at too young an age, the unwanted attentions of men who refused to consider my potential contributions. I’ve also seen friends and clients suffer from similar male-dominating attitudes, including physical and emotional rape on both individual and professional levels. These actions and attitudes must stop.

When they do, we can raise up a world of healthy minds, bodies and spirits for the women and men that occupy this neighborhood called Earth.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

5 Comments

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  • May 06, 2015
    I think current cultural mores (The Guardian in particular warned about the effects of abysmal moral standards, particularly in the West) bring out the potentially toxic aspects and traits in both sexes. An underlying paradigm that seems to champion zero-sum competition also does not help -- particularly in bringing out the potentially toxic aspects of a warped sense of masculinity. It's been suggested that a paradigm built on a mutually cooperative pursuit of excellence would be healthier for the individual, while also producing better long-term collective results. I don't think that means the driven, ambitious personality type (often called "type ...A") would not have a place in such a paradigm. It just means perhaps that personality type could be steered in a healthier direction. Lastly, at least in my experience, that personality type is not gender-specific, it's just as likely to start manifesting in girls as in boys -- who with healthy encouragement could grow into effective go-getters and leaders as women and men.
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    • May 08, 2015
      Mark Heinz Yes indeed Baha'i brother Mark. Might I even venture: 'thought of the week, of the month...'
      Baha'i love. Paul
      PS 'Shop till u drop' causes affluenza in the City
    • May 07, 2015
      Paul Desailly , absolutely. When I say a more healthy paradigm, I mean one that is primarily religious and spiritual -- rather than one that is commercial and material. The latter paradigm, I think, has created the underlying current of zero-sum competition (a rather "macho" way of framing things) as opposed to a mutually supportive pursuit of excellence (which could be said to be more nurturing, insightful or "feminine.) That is why women need to achieve full equality, and we need to stop shaming attributes typically thought of as feminine. Not only in women -- but also in men. Being ...insightful, compassionate, nurturing etc., should not be thought of as "weak."
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    • May 07, 2015
      In the final analysis Mark no other cure than true religion is palatable to Alpha personalities or to any other people in their orbit or in general. What retards the growth of religion as revealed by God's latest Messenger is the cancer of materialism; Alphas have succumbed to that cancer just as much as the rest of society. Further, as to what ails the world and whether the Guardian's metaphor regarding cancer pertains to a shop to you drop mentality blighting human kind or to the Materialism described by atheistic philosophers merits much serious and urgent consultation, I think.
      Baha'i ...love
      Paul
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  • May 03, 2015
    To read here yet another fine article in favor of the principle of gender rights is for me a multi-faceted joy in that I love my four older sisters (no brothers have I) who still spoil me and our boys and above all because the Guardian has explained that there is but one way to effect the triumph of the Cause; i.e. the living of the fundamental Baha'i principles, all of them. Surely this last point merits reiteration in that few Baha'is appear cognizant of its truth. 'The triumph of the Cause', no less!
    In a world long riven ...by gender based injustice how is one to broach this subject to a male audience in patriarchal societies where, as Leila points out, women are often treated unequally before the law? Consider a global approach transcending east and west, i.e. the universality and comprehensiveness of Bahá’u’lláh’s message, together with the Master’s kindly wisdom from the world of nature vis-à-vis three mindset-changing starting points: (1) only the female date palm bears the fruit (2) in Africa the hunter rightly fears above all, the lioness, not the lion (3) in the Arabian Desert the longest wind for the longest journey is possessed by the mare, not the stallion. Explain too that Bahá’í families, if financially pressed, prefer to expend on education in favor of the girl child for she is the first teacher of the next generation.
    Flight into the realm of world peace is retarded until women are equally represented in the parliaments of the world - primarily because ‘motherly’ politicians will move heaven and earth rather than see their sons or daughters needlessly fall in combat against other nations. In the main, despite a few bellicose examples in recent history, ‘tis women in government assisted by their advisers who will outlaw war itself, if not eradicate into the bargain all armed conflict.
    Baha'i love. Paul.
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