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It takes two to tango

Why should only women need healing and counselling? Don't men face the same problems, wonders Deepa Gahlot.
By Deepa Gahlot | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUN 19, 2008 06:58 PM IST

Glancing through the event listings in the papers, in the midst of yoga classes and summer workshops, there was one which grabbed my attention. It offered to solve ‘women’s relationship issues’. This included incompatibility, domination, disagreement, ego, commitment, communication and aggression.

Why do only women’s issues need healing and counselling? If these are problems that need addressing, aren’t they problems of men too? But it’s still typical to think of domination, ego and aggression as women’s problems, while they’re seen as positive, even desirable traits, in men.

Toned down
You would never hear of a man seeking counselling for ‘domination’ issues. Because if a man isn’t dominating in our society, he is labelled a wimp, while a woman who is dominating has been given rude names, the mildest of which is b***h. So she has to either learn to tone down her aggression on her own, or go through a ‘taming of the shrew’ kind of situation, if there’s a man on the scene (this subject remains a perennial showbiz favourite).. or, well, now she can seek professional guidance.

Man enough
When she’s suitably tamed, and if she happens to be in a high-powered career, she is likely to be castigated for not being ‘man enough’ to do handle her work well. It’s a no-win situation for her.

Actually, aggression, domination and ego are male problems, because men are raised to develop the ‘killer instinct,’ which may work if the career requires it, but otherwise, it pretty much messes up their lives in the job and relationship department.

But if anyone started classes for men to deal with these issues, the chances are nobody would sign up. The other problems —incompatibility, disagreement, commitment and communication — are they confined to women only?

Male issue
It takes two for the terms, ‘incompatibility’ and ‘communication’, to be applicable. And chances are that the other party is a guy, unless it’s a saasbah u soap on TV. So why shouldn’t the man learn to cope or improve the situation too?

Commitment — at least to long-term relationships — is almost always a male issue, but nobody offers to cure them of it, because in their case it is not called ‘dithering’ or ‘indecisiveness’ but ‘caution.’

Blame game
Just like disagreement is termed ‘assertiveness’ when men do it.. and ‘whining’ in the case of women. Going by the problems that both men and women have in a fastchanging society, guidance and healing is the need of the hour. But the problem has to be correctly identified first.. it will not do to lay all the blame at the women’s doors and expect them to find the solution with no inputs from men.. even the reverse will not work.

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