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  • feedwordpress 10:00:28 on 2017/05/06 Permalink
    Tags: , , , culture, Female, , Gender Expectations, Gender Norms, , , , Language, , , Understanding   

    Breaking Free from Gender Expectations 

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    “Why does gender still play such a defining role in our society?” – Nicolas, Copenhagen, Denmark 

    One of the oldest origin stories in our culture lays the ground for our binary system of gender: Adam and Eve. The Old Testament set up this duality of man and woman. And old stories are deeply rooted in us.

    From the very moment a woman is pregnant, we ask: is it a boy or a girl? We create two categories with very little room for anything outside of these prescribed definitions.

    My colleague Jean Malpas who studies transgender children, and will speak about his work on the TED stage in May, explains that gender is one of the fundamental ways we humanize each other. By assigning gender we turn something abstract (a fetus) into a concrete concept that will accompany us throughout our entire life. Gender is story. The story that culture has bestowed upon us – a legacy that comes laden with expectations. Expectations of how a man and a woman must be, must think, must act.

    You and I know these stories well. For instance: men are described as rabid biological creatures always looking for a sexual outlet. But for women, it is expected that sexuality is more subjective, that desire is complicated and conditional. These are just a few of the narratives we have learnt. But if you look closely at yourself and the people you know, you will find these narratives are riddled with contradictions and that individuals are far more nuanced.

    So what happens if you don’t meet the cultural narrative of your gender? If you are a woman who doesn’t like clothes shopping, for instance, or don’t use “feminine” gestures. What if you are a man who hates sports? You may feel in conflict. You may feel deficient, insufficient and incomplete.

    So how do we approach gender today? One of the greatest challenges is that we have seen gender as being consistent with the body and the sex that we were assigned as a baby. But we are finally beginning to understand that gender is not an assignation, that biology is not destiny. Or as transgender man Sawyer DeVuyst aptly describes it: “Gender is who you go to bed as and sexuality is who you go to bed with.”

    As I talked about in my Language of Gender piece, the gender revolution has arrived. We have a whole new lexicon to choose from. And with it, freedom for self-expression. So, let’s turn the page and create a new story for ourselves.

    What stories about gender have you learnt that have accompanied you throughout life? In what ways have they shaped, helped or hindered you? I would love to know your thoughts. Please comment below.

    The post Breaking Free from Gender Expectations appeared first on Esther Perel.

  • nmw 14:04:34 on 2017/04/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , culture, divorce, , , , , reliance, seduce, , ,   

    If we see Cuba as a representation of our essential human need for connection, it’s clear that loving and leaving someone still happens in person 

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    even though we live in a digitalized world where our screens are glued to our hands, human connection is all-powerful: at some essential level we still need to meet someone, to talk to them, to interact, especially in order to seduce them.


  • feedwordpress 20:00:07 on 2016/11/18 Permalink
    Tags: , Cross Cultural, culture, cutural, Differences, , ethnic tension, , religion,   

    How To Address Cross Cultural Differences 

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    “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” – Ethics of the Father, Hillel

    Whomever you voted for, most likely, you were surprised by the results.

    This is a good moment to take stock. What does this election mean about me, and how do I connect to others?

    Working with broken relationships between people who are unable to relate to one another is central to my work as a couples therapist. I help them listen, acknowledge their respective experiences, and communicate across divides.

    We are experiencing a severe polarization. New conversations around the world are in dire need, and creating a safe space to dialogue is more important than ever.

    When faced with otherness, we can respond one of two ways: with fear or with curiosity. The “other” may refer to your partner, sibling, neighbor, or fellow citizen. Depending on how threatened you feel, your mind and body will either contract or expand.

    Many of you know me through my work on sexuality. What you may not know, is that before writing Mating in Captivity, the first 24 years of my career I was a cross-cultural psychologist, primarily focusing on race relationship, ethnic tensions, cultural and religious intermarriage, immigration and acculturation.

    For decades, I have worked with groups and couples to bridge divisiveness and conflict. In Montreal, I worked with teachers and students in public schools on the tensions between the Haitian students and the Quebecois. In Belgium, I led workshops on Jewish identity which brought together a spectrum of Jews from the ultra-Orthodox community and the secular community. In the US, I worked for a decade with rabbis, educators, donors and families helping the Jewish community to open it’s doors to interfaith couples.

    While we can not be knowledgeable about all cultures, we can learn how to approach those that are unfamiliar to us and understand their essential features. How can we all develop a more cultural way of thinking and increase our understanding of the multifaceted meanings of race, culture and religion?

    I think we can all start by asking ourselves these four questions:

    1.  What are the messages you received at home about “the other”? Were you encouraged to get to know them? Or were you taught to distrust or ignore them?
    2. Did you grow up in a neighborhood that was primarily racially, ethnically, economically, religiously homogenous? Or did you grow up in a mixed neighborhood, as you see it?
    3. Today, are you more likely to emphasize how others are similar to you, or how you may be different?
    4. What has been your experience when you’re in the minority, vs. when you’re in the majority?

    How do these questions make you feel? Are the answers what you expected? I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments. I ask you to be mindful of the varied views within our community, and I hope this is a productive and respectful space for us all.

    The post How To Address Cross Cultural Differences appeared first on Esther Perel.

  • nmw 18:48:30 on 2015/04/01 Permalink
    Tags: conscience, culture, , , limit, limits, problem, script, scripts, , self-image, solution   

    Our fantasies allow us to negate and undo the limits put upon us by our conscience, by our culture, and by our self-image 

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    If we feel insecure and unattractive, in our fantasies we are irresistible. If we anticipate a withholding woman, in fantasy she’s insatiable; if we fear our own aggression, in our internal reveries we can feel powerful without worrying we might hurt another.


  • nmw 09:41:55 on 2014/03/20 Permalink
    Tags: culture, , , intent, intention, intentions, own, ownership, reward, rewards, , satisfy, socialisation, , society, want, wants   

    I can’t get no satisfaction, but at least I can own my desire! 

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    You can never force them to want. It remains our fundamental sovereignty, our fundamental freedom is in desire. But desire has become a centralized principle of modern life. In that sense, we are in a society today that constantly cultivates our wantings and then exorts us to satisfying our wantings. We are in the culture of desire. Desire goes hand in hand with the consumer society. Though it existed separately from it as well. That’s one definition, there are so many ways, the poets have tried forever to define desire.

    Be sure to read Esther’s full post where she also adds more details (in response to Gail Saltz’s remarks) about the satisfaction aspect:


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