News — Gender Studies


Marianne Williamson and Sister Giant

SisterGiantImage-BLMany of us are thinking about the current state of politics this time of year.  And many of us want to help transform not only our country, but the world.  Marianne Williamson offers us this opportunity with "Sister Giant" -- an event whose intention is to create a new conversation where the principles of higher consciousness and spirituality provide a foundation for political involvement. 

Sister Giant will be taking place in Los Angeles on November 10-11, and will be live streaming so anyone who wants to particpate can.  Visit for more information.

Excerpt from "You Already Have a Job" with Marianne Williamson

MWYou_already_have_a_job_Cover-BLIn this transcribed excerpt from a talk recorded live on Labor Day 2011, Marianne Williamson uses the holiday as a springboard to talk about what it means to labor, and how important it is to express ourselves through whatever work we do, whether paid or not.

Today is Labor Day, obviously. The history of Labor Day is interesting in that nobody seems to know exactly how it all started, that the various states were acknowledging with a holiday the role of labor. One interesting anecdote that apparently had to do with its beginning had to do with president Grover Cleveland. There had been a protest among union workers and a few of the workers had been killed. So Grover Cleveland -- especially because he was in a bid for reelection at that time -- advocated the creation of a national holiday in honor of workers as a way to get the public’s opinion back on his side given that U.S. marshals had killed these workers. It didn’t work. He didn’t get reelected, but of course after a misuse of power like that, obviously nothing as… creating a national holiday obviously should not get one forgiven on that kind of a level.

The point is that this is a day in which the United States, whether we are thinking of it in terms of the workers and their connection to unions… and I think this is an important day particularly given what has occurred in Wisconsin and in other states. I think it is actually a good day to acknowledge the profound and profoundly important role of the unions in the history of the United States. But we also… in the United States many of us do not necessarily belong to unions. The union movement, as important as it has been and as important for many as it is today, does not define the entirety of what it means to be among those who labor in the United States. We all labor. Some of us labor for money and some of us labor in a way that does not bring financial remuneration but still has to do with the work through which we express ourselves on the planet.
One of the earliest philosophers to talk about the relationship of humans in a philosophical sense to the work that we do was Karl Marx, who before he was a political philosopher was a humanitarian philosopher and was talking about how people express themselves through their work and how important that is, and how if workers feel alienated from the work that they do, then they also feel alienated from themselves. I remember when I was in college reading a feminist writer name Shulamith Firestone, and she was talking about the fact that one of the reasons that the early feminism… well, that chapter of feminism like in 1970s… was so significant was that before the 1960s, etc., women traditionally in our country and elsewhere… because women were denied access to so many of the professions, women basically saw their children as the great creative task and how unhealthy that was. How unhealthy that was for the women, and of course how unhealthy that was for the children.

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Excerpt 2 from Harville Hendrix's "Finding and Keeping the Love You Want"

harville hendrix best selling author

Harville Hendrix, one of this country's most renowned relationship experts, talks about the classic scenario of "minimizers and maximizers" in relationship -- those who avoid contact tend to attract those who require excessive contact and vice versa -- in this transcrbed excerpt from his talk on "Finding and Keeping the Love You Want."


Minimizers and maximizers come in all different sizes and shapes. They have what we call adaptations. If they were injured in the attachment stage with either neglect or rejection, then what will happen in their adulthood is that they will develop a pattern of avoidance -- that is, of withdrawal. Or one of them will do that and the other one will develop a pattern of clinging. So they make a very interesting pair. This is the type of pairing that occurs. The person who withdraws pulls away, doesn’t show any emotion, likes to spend a lot of time alone, will be attracted to and fall in love with and make a committed partnership with the person who can’t stand being alone, who wants to be together all of the time. When you go to bed at night, they want to snuggle all night long.

I remember one time a couple came in and the big argument they were having was that when they went to bed at night, she wanted to snuggle in the fetal position. You know that one -- where you’re on your side and the other one is curled up behind you. And that was fine with him for about 10 minutes, but she wanted to go to sleep in that position every night. They had this argument for four years. Can we go to sleep cuddled at night? And he said, “It’s fine with me to cuddle for ten minutes, but then I start sweating and you start sweating and I get uncomfortable and also I can’t go to sleep on my side. I have to go to sleep on my back.” Because if you have patterns of avoidance, you are certainly not going to sleep on your stomach because you want to go on your back so you can see things. And his partner was a person who said, “Well, you know, I just want to be close. I just want us to be in body contact. It just feels good to me to feel your body. I can go to sleep on my side and you’re just not a romantic person. You just don’t want to be close.”
Well, neither one of them were dealing with love. They were both dealing with needs. One had a need for distance and the other one had a need for excessive distance and excessive contact. Now, as we go through the developmental stages, the minimizers become avoiders. Or if you get to the expiration stage, you can stand contact for a little longer. Here’s the person who doesn’t: the distancer in adulthood who has developed distancing as a defense in childhood doesn’t feel compelled to not be in contact. In fact, the avoider, one of the characteristics about the person who has developed avoidance is that they will never initiate contact. They will respond to it but they will never say, “Let’s go to a movie”, or on the way to a movie, they will never reach over and hold your hand.

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Excerpt 3 from "Men & Women: Talking Together" with Deborah Tannen and Robert Bly

Cover- bly-tannen-Men&WomenTalkingTogether In this insightful transcribed excerpt from "Men & Women: Talking Together", men's movement pioneer reflects on Deborah Tannen's classic book on male/female communication -- You Just Don't Understand -- and how Tannen's observations play out in his own marriage.

Let’s go on a bit and I just want to say a few more words about her book. The first time I came in contact with her, my wife and I were having dinner up in northern Minnesota and someone started to read out of the book. We both fell off our chairs laughing because of every mistake we had made including every misunderstanding, and I remember the first one that was said was this one: The woman says to the man, “Would you like to stop for a drink before we get home?” I think she is asking for information.

I check my body. My body says, “No, I don’t want a drink.” So I reported. I say, “No thanks, I don’t want a drink.” And that’s it. I thought I was doing what was asked of me. And it turned out that she was imagining maybe just a little conversation before this day ends, maybe. And of course, when I say that I don’t want a drink, then she interprets that the way they do.

So now, when she says, “Would you like a drink?” then I check my body. What? You’re sitting in the wrong part of the hall, that’s the problem. So when she says, “Would you like a drink?” Now I know what I have to say. I have to say, well I checked my body and no I don’t want a drink but I will be happy to sit down with a little Perrier and talk over what asses we’ve been today. That’s better.
Another thing that I thought was wonderful in her book was when she talked about the difference between… well this is how it begins. The woman says to the man, “Why don’t you ever talk to me?” She says this at home. “Why don’t you ever talk to me?” Then they go to a party and it turns out he is giving this long lecture on the Galapagos territories, you know? To thirty people. And she says, “Well how come you talk to them but you don’t talk to me?” Can you feel a little dynamite in there? Or in this case you talk to a thousand people and you don’t talk to me.
Ya, that’s right. Why can you talk to them? So, those are hard questions. But she gave a wonderful answer to that. There is a difference between rapport talk when women use conversation to gain rapport, to increase the unity between two people, to gain a rapport. Men may use it for a report. I’ll give a report on the Galapagos territories. And nobody knows what this means. But the man you see when you are sitting home -- there is nothing to report about. So, when you get with three, four, or ten other people, then your adrenaline rises and then you realize that you can talk about how much you love the world, which includes the Galapagos territories.

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Robert Bly Bio and Links