30
Dec
2015
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The Inception of Babble of the Sexes: Our Writers’ Own Words

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Grav combined sampleIt was Jay Blevin’s pitch that led us here. In an email sent to his editor, he stated he receives requests for companion pieces for his articles and it led him to think of the inherent value that would be created if a male and female writer both expressed their thoughts on a an assigned topic. We wholeheartedly agreed and got to work making Babble of the Sexes a reality.

 

The writers speak (or write…as it were)
Jay:

As a writer for the Good Men Project, I’ve always been very interested in the comments and feedback of the readers. I appreciate hearing other’s opinions whether they agree with me or not. One of the comments that has really stuck with me was when I was asked why I don’t write articles defending men.

It made me stop and think. If the question is about why I’m not defending men then there must be a perception that I’m attacking men. Or at least, defending women.

I realized that for people who see relationships as the battle of the sexes, any suggestion made to change their behavior can feel like an attack. And if you are in a battle, the last thing you want is be attacked.

It stuck with me because that perspective is so different than mine. I don’t see relationships, intimate or otherwise, as a battle. To me relationships are about partnership. They are about creating something together.

A great relationship isn’t about conquering someone or forcing them to be the way you want them to be. It is about working together to create a place you both want to be.

I’m trained as a systems therapist, meaning I see relationships as a system. In other words, I believe each person in the system impacts the outcome of the system. I also know that a change by any one person in the system forces change in the whole system.

Put more simply, if you behave differently, people will respond differently.

I don’t see people as being automatically right or wrong. We operate in the system and get an outcome. If we aren’t happy with the outcome we have two choices—we can change what we are doing or we can invite others to change. Ultimately we only have control over ourselves.

My job as a therapist, and the goal of my articles, is to help people better understand how their behaviors are impacting the outcome of their relationships and to suggest ways to achieve different outcomes. If you are happy with how things are working in your relationships, great! If not, I want to help you see ways to make them better.

I am excited to have the opportunity to create this column with a wonderful colleague, Alison Tedford. I’m not looking for a battle. My hope is to work together to create something that is a combination of interesting, surprising, and thought-provoking.

As I get to know Alison,  I expect there will be places we agree and places we disagree. I hope to learn from her as well as maybe teach her a thing or two. And, we may just agree to disagree on occasion. Most of all, I think we’ll have lots of fun and build something we both enjoy!

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Alison:

When I was first asked to collaborate on this project, I was very excited. You see, with Jay being a therapist, I can finally tell my folks that I’m speaking with a shrink on a weekly basis. They will be so proud. The fact that we write together is nobody’s business and our little secret (shared with 300,000+ subscribers). While Jay and I possess the same twisted, sarcastic sense of humor, our backgrounds couldn’t be more different.

I’m a data analyst during the day and I spend a lot of time studying patterns and trends. I believe you can make accurate forecasts of the future by incorporating information from the past and combining it with data on current conditions. Spreadsheets don’t have feelings and that’s the way I like it from the hours of 9-5. It’s far less messy and there are handy buttons that let me sort things in a logical order.

This isn’t to say I’m completely averse to feelings. I’m a volunteer eating disorder support group facilitator. Since I’ve recovered from anorexia and bulimia 16 years ago, I believe in paying it forward through helping others move past their own struggles. I’m passionate about mental health awareness and advocacy. I’m also a mom, so I deal with a lot of emotions in that capacity. They are mostly about bedtime, homework and pets who have crossed over the rainbow bridge. As far as moms go, I’m soft and squishy inside. If this were a battle of the sexes, I one-hundred percent would NOT be down for participating in it.

I believe in meeting halfway and finding common ground. My mission as a writer is to help people to not feel alone because it can be hard to articulate how you are feeling when you are in the middle of emotions. It is easier to say “Me too!” and know that someone out there understands and has been there once before.

While I’m not combative by nature, I defend myself when necessary. I’m also not so ignorant as to believe there is no inter-gender aggression. I’ve been on the receiving end of a rape threat on social media for pointing out an example of rape culture. I’m social justice minded and I believe in gender equality, but can unleash my inner spitfire when needed, too. We can resolve many tension points through collaboration, negotiation and open communication.

It’s from that spirit of understanding that I believe men and women can find harmony. We don’t have to hold the same opinions to make sweet music. Sometimes it’s the contrast writing a piece of magical music, the high and the low. I look forward to composing what are hopefully masterpieces with Jay in the future.

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 Article originally published at The Good Men Project.

photo credit: Teachers talking col via photopin (license)

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