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The He in SheSpeaks

Back in September, I hosted an event called SheSpeaks. It was a women’s speaking series that was designed to celebrate and honor women – our power, perspectives, voices, wisdom, and relevance. The event was essentially an evening of storytelling and featured five courageous women. I got to play emcee.

It was a tremendous success by all accounts – the feeling in the air that night, by the sheer numbers of women and men that came out that rainy evening to attend, and the number of rave reviews that were shared with me afterwards. I was honored. Moved. Inspired. And totally jazzed to do it again (and I will February 2, 2012).

But here’s the most curious thing that happened: following the event, I began to receive several tweets, e-mails and calls from men asking if I would consider doing a HeSpeaks. It was suggested that having such an event would “balance out” the perspective of the genders.

This is where I got stuck.

I thought we were already out of balance. Last I checked most platforms for public speaking (think politics, corporate CEOs, wallstreet, board chairs…) were already pretty much stacked with men. So how is it that having an event focused on women’s perspectives would add to that imbalance? Silly me, I thought SheSpeaks actually might address it.

I know what these men are suggesting, so before you skewer me as “anti-male”, let me just clarify… What I think they’re asking for is a forum of storytelling in the way that women did at SheSpeaks – brutally honest, deeply personal, filled with heart and soul, and radiating the raw power and strength that comes from making oneself vulnerable.

I totally get it. I also get that we’re not really talking about men and women here. We’re talking about the masculine and the feminine, which in my eyes, is related, but fundamentally different. One is gender, one is energy. Most of us only identify with one gender, but many of us can identify with both the energies. They’re in us – the yin and the yang, the animus and the anima, the sun and the moon.

I watched as a number of men approached me sheepishly at the conclusion of the SheSpeaks event and said, “you know, I actually related to a lot of the themes from tonight’s stories. I know they were women’s stories, but I totally related…” Of course you did. Because their stories were about the human condition – being afraid, being with the unknown, being angry, being in awe – but they were simply told through a feminine lens.

So while I don’t see myself ever hosting a companion “HeSpeaks” event, I do see how women’s stories will continue to offer women and men a much-needed  infusion of the feminine in an otherwise masculine-laden culture.

Call it re-balancing, call it unfair or exclusive. I call it SheSpeaks.

5 comments to " The He in SheSpeaks "

  • One of the men in the audience came up to me afterward and told me how much he could relate to what I shared. I admit I was momentarily puzzled. I think the thing is men rarely share their emotions at the level that for many women comes easily. I am not saying men don’t share but I look at the phenomenon of blogging and how it’s more or less a woman’s game especially in the motherhood genre, women crave the circle, for many of us it fills us up.

    I think men are wanting that same connection and the SheSpeaks series provided that spark. That said I agree with you and understand where you are coming from.

    • It’s great to hear a speaker’s perspective, @blackgirlinmaine, so thanks for sharing! Yeah, I do see how that SheSpeaks event triggered a hunger in men to have a forum – permission, even – to have that same level of connection. I can’t help but get excited by the prospect. And while I don’t see that as my particular focus of SheChanges, I love how it is serving as a catalyst – “providing the spark”, as you put so well.

  • Lael, I love your new WordPress blog! It looks great, and love that it features your brilliant writing.

    Not having attended what I hear was the wonderful and inspiring SheSpeaks event (I’m in California), I nevertheless resonate with Blackgirlinmaine when she writes that “men are wanting that same connection and the…series provided that spark.”

    As human evolution rockets along at an ever-increasing pace (can you feel it?), we’re increasingly not talking about men and women anymore. More and more people are passing beyond preoccupation with who oppressed whom and for how long, and how we need to “balance” (or even seek revenge for) that. They just want to move forward with other awakening souls to begin creating what is meant to be a heaven on Earth. A united planet that operates on the principles of collaboration, joy, peace, and compassion.

    Everyone who is waking to the divine spirit that lives within them is desperately searching for community now and seeking to understand what is happening to them. The heart-opening that your male participants seem to have experienced through SheSpeaks can be painful and frightening if they have no support or context for it–particularly if, like many men in our culture, they’ve been trained to suppress emotion and avoid introspection. Not finding a place to land safely, many come to feel they’ve gone crazy or just go back to sleep.

    Lael, you’re a leader who’s created a powerful and growing community, and because you want to exclude souls in a male body from that community, you’re turning away some of the very people who have been awakened by your spark and who now need your guidance and leadership.

    Do you think that as a step toward unification and healing of the relationship between men and women, you could collaborate with a male colleague to produce and/or promote an event for men in which they could open themselves to Spirit in a safe and loving environment? Or perhaps, if you feel moved, you could unite with trusted men to produce a WeSpeak series in which men and women discuss how they feel an increasing openness to and presence of spirit no matter our gender or background? Perhaps a theme could be how much we treasure and have learned from people of what the quickly receding Old World called the “opposite sex.”

    SheChange’s mission is to create “conscious transitions.” You said you felt “stuck.”

    Whether you know it or not, whether you acknowledge it or not, and whether you want it or not, Lael, you’re a spiritual leader. And you’re being called to lead–perhaps more and different types of people than you’d bargained on. It’s up to you if you answer.

    Just a few thoughts. I hope you feel the love with which I write these words.

  • Thanks for your feedback on the new blog format, Amanda! And for your enthusiastic support of my writing – much appreciated!

    Your comments give me great pause for thought, so thanks for making them. Yes, I feel the love with which they are written – and the excitement about change happening and a shifting of our universal consciousness – all that!

    To a certain extent, I knew writing this post would be a bit like kicking a hornets nest. It seems that anytime a spotlight is shined on women’s perspectives, it becomes a lightening rod. And lightening rods create energy for change, so I’m good with that – even if the intentions are sometimes misunderstood.

    The bottom line for me is that we’re talking passionately about something that matters, and THAT is what SheChanges is all about – being a catalyst for deeper meaning, connection, and ultimately, change.

    On a larger scale, I watched what happened as a result of TEDWomen in 2010…that event was a major lightening rod, drawing international attention from supporters and critics alike. People thought it was exclusive and a “me too” event, somehow being a spinoff from the original TED conference. What people conveniently forget is that TEDWomen wasn’t FOR women, it was ABOUT women, and while the audience certainly was filled with women, there were also a fair amount of men present, too.

    Because here’s the thing (as I’m sure you will agree), there is value in shining a light on our differences. We are better as result. But there is this persistent pull to focus on our “sameness”, which is why a WeSpeaks, for me, would be a watered down version of the event.

    That being said, I am meeting with a male colleague who has energy around a HeSpeaks event, and while I don’t see my purpose being to host such and event, I will do everything in my power to support him in bringing it to fruition. In the meantime, I will be more clear in my messaging about SheSpeaks, that men are more than welcome to participate as members of the audience. Clearly it had an impact, and I hope to extend that ripple effect of that impact with each new SheSpeaks.

    SheChanges is about women being a catalyst for change in the world. For that I”m clear and grateful to your comments as a pause to reflect and ensure I am on track with that mission.

    • Lael, thanks for writing back and for considering my thoughts. You’ve created and are continuing to create something beautiful and important. My very best wishes as things move along!