As I write this, we’ll be expecting you in roughly four months time. We’re very excited to meet you and will do our best to give you the very best start in life. Don’t worry too much about anything, we’ve got you covered for the first 18 years or so, and your job is to have fun, to make friends, to laugh and play as much as you can (and hopefully beyond that too!).
I’m writing to you because I want you to know what my (and your mother’s) intentions are as you grow in the coming years. While you are having fun and making friends, we want to impart some life lessons and wisdom that will help you on your way. Your mother has her culture, and I have mine, and we’ll tell you tales from both of them. We want you to be able to read and write, play sports, learn an instrument or two, and learn how to make things with your own hands. There will hopefully be much you can learn from both of us, and your grandparents, uncles and aunts who are all equally as excited to meet you.
But there is one lesson I believe remains my responsibility to teach you — and not because I understand it better than your mother or anyone else you’ll soon meet, but because I still don’t understand it enough. I’m talking about women — grandmothers, mothers, daughters and the feminine energy that gave you life.
In many cultures this energy is respected and revered. It is the basis of all life, and many indigenous peoples lovingly refer to the planet itself as the embodiment of this feminine energy. The Mother Earth birthed both you and I, and we need her to survive. We drink the water from her rivers, eat the food from her soil and breathe the air from her skies.
But sadly in the country and culture you’ll be born in, the feminine is not respected as it should be. While things are generally getting better, we are living through a period of extreme turmoil. As I write this, all of our culture’s ugliness is being revealed in a very public way. The most powerful man in the world, Donald Trump, disrespects women and has treated them as he does the Mother Earth. He views them objects to be used, abused and discarded when he tires of them. He represents everything I would hope you will turn out not to be. He is greedy, selfish, and abusive towards the opposite sex. He values power, control and money above all else and has awoken the very worst instincts in humanity. We are also learning that many other powerful men use their money and position in society to abuse and attack women. The extent to which this occurs continues to shock me, and you are going to have to be a part of the solution to this. It is a big responsibility, but I believe you will be up to the task.
As a young man, I was not always so respectful towards women and the feminine. Romantic rejection would often spur hostility towards the opposite sex, manifesting itself as bravado and indifference. In reality, I was just insecure and lonely, afraid that if I showed vulnerability people would think me weak. I learned that being disrespectful towards women could get often you more attention, and while I was never abusive or cruel, I began to believe that women were to be played and manipulated. This mindset would always fall apart after I got what I believed I wanted, realizing there was another vulnerable, complex person in front of me going through their own growth and learning process.
The culture I grew up in did little to help me understand or process this. I went to an all boys school for many years where all sorts of contorted and offensive views were taken as truths about the opposite sex. Women were objects to be graded by their physical looks, not by their qualities as a human being. This led to all sorts of trouble for me, and it took years to unlearn it. And in truth, I’m still unlearning it.
You will be guided by me to recognize all of this, and process the complex feelings you will have towards the opposite sex in a different way. I will teach you that the feminine is the most powerful energy of all, that women are to be respected as equals and to stand up to misogyny in all its forms. I will teach you that romantic rejection has nothing to do with being male or female, that love transcends gender and is your own personal journey for you to make sense of. I will teach you that the boys you hang around with who disrespect women are weak, not strong. I will teach you that they hate the opposite sex because they hate a part of themselves. And I will teach you that you must understand the feminine in yourself if you want to find true peace and harmony with the opposite sex. In your mother’s womb, you were female before you were male, and the notion of gender is not as fixed as many would have you believe.
I hope you will be interested in Martial Arts, as I am, and will learn to defend yourself well. I hope that you will use that knowledge to defend those weaker than yourself and to stand up for those who cannot. There is much violence towards women in this world, and strong men are needed to stand up to those who would do harm to our mothers and sisters. Many women are capable of looking after themselves, but they need allies and I will teach you to be a powerful one.
I am not perfect by any means. I am still learning how to be a better man, a better husband, and a better ally to women (your mother is thankfully here to continue teaching me!). I will be your father soon, and I know there is a steep learning curve to come. But I hope you can learn from my mistakes and contribute to building a better world than the one we’re living in.
See you in February, and please don’t be too rough on your mother when you arrive!
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.