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Ending the War Between the Sexes

April 29, 1988|PATRICK MOTT | Patrick Mott is a regular contributor to Orange County Life.

How would you react if someone challenged, on almost every major point, the way you have been running your life with the opposite sex, declaring that the contemporary life you have painstakingly built for yourself will never get you what you really want?

Conversely, how would you feel if that same person told you that the means to satisfy your fondest desires were right under your nose all along?

Consider, then, what syndicated radio psychologist Toni Grant of Los Angeles has to say to contemporary women in her recently released book, "Being a Woman" (Random House):

"Today's woman only seems independent; emotionally, she often emerges as more needy, insecure, lonely and desperate than her mother and grandmother before her. Refusing to nurture men, she in turn has not been nurtured by them; refusing to be tender with men, she has not been tenderly treated by them. Her aggressive independence has given men nothing to protect, so she has not been protected. Behind the Amazon armor often lives a terrified woman less sure of her place in the world than ever before.

" . . . Women today are desperate to be with men but do not know how to relate to them so as to inspire their protection, their devotion, their love and their care. . . . I strongly believe that it is the failure of modern woman to effectively utilize the unique power of her femininity--a power which is easily within her reach--that results in so many disastrous and loveless relationships."

These writings may not win Grant a place of honor in the radical feminist pantheon but, she says, they already have won many hearts and minds of frustrated '80s women whose success in business hasn't been matched by success in love.

After researching psychological theories on masculinity and femininity--principally, she says, the writings of Carl Jung--Grant came to the conclusion that the battle of the sexes was a conflict no one could win and that women could be the most effective peacemakers.

The book was written, she says, "for the evolved woman, the sexually liberated woman, the career woman who is evolved in her professional life but who is having difficulty finding love. So many women have been finding that the masculine attitude that is very effective in the professional world doesn't work in the personal world."

She minces no words in describing the effects of that attitude.

"Today's woman is an imitation man," she writes, "at war with actual men, confused and unsettled by it. . . . All human beings have dependency needs, but modern woman has been loath to project her need of a man in any way. This failure of modern woman to own and acknowledge the passive-dependent aspect of her personality has resulted in serious dysfunction and alienation between the sexes."

Grant describes what she calls the Big Lies of Liberation as the culprits in muddying the waters of more natural feminine behavior. Among the "lies" are such assertions that men and women are substantially the same in their psychological and sexual behavior, that to be feminine is to be weak, that women enjoy the feminization of men and that women's desirability in men's eyes is enhanced by their accomplishments.

None of this, she says, is true. Real attractiveness, she writes, lies in a woman's "uniquely feminine attitude, a particular way of being a woman. But the modern woman has denounced and suppressed this way of being in the world and now needs to be encouraged to embrace her lost femininity. . . . This shift in consciousness can be a frightening and difficult one for the woman of today, for she has become . . . out of touch with her softer nature."

Turning around King Arthur's advice in Lerner and Lowe's "Camelot," Grant says that the way to handle a man is, simply, to love him.

"If you come at a man with a sword, or throw a net over him, he'll run," says Grant. "Men must be inspired. You cannot make a man do anything. That's the bottom line."

But, she says, you can exercise what she calls the innate power of four distinct facets of a woman's psyche: the Mother, the Madonna, the Courtesan and the Amazon. Representing women's instinctive qualities of nurturing, nobility, sexuality and strength, the four qualities combined in a single personality, says Grant, can be the most powerful tool in a woman's arsenal in her quest to get what she wants: a good man and a good marriage.

If it is manipulation, she says, it is manipulation "of the most benign nature."

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