Sitting in the Gates: The Movement of Men
Men. Can’t live with them. Can’t live without them. Or is that what men say about women? Women said it differently. ‘A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle’, from an earlier phrase, that ‘Man needs God like a fish needs a bicycle.’ Perhaps there’s a link. Both Gloria Steinem and Irina Dunn, to whom the ‘woman needs man not’ quote has been attributed, were quite OK getting married, despite their youthful humour in the women’s lib movement. Perhaps man needs God after all.
There are various descriptions, in ancient texts, of maenadic women leaving domesticity and rushing off into the wilds, for a few days of orgiastic abandon, in service to Dionysus.
What do the men do at this time? Aside from looking after the kids and feeding the animals, while their wives are cavorting, the texts tell us that the men sit about with other men, drinking wine and discussing.. well, what do they discuss? In Proverbs 31, in the midst of verses praising a ‘God-fearing woman’, whose special talents with her hands are worth more than pearls, Solomon says, ‘Her husband is well-known in the gates, as he sits with the elders of the land.’ What is the man doing, while he sits there, and who are the elders?
There is hardly anything of importance that is not common to both men and women. Husbands and wives should share chores and monies, caring for their families, and their social responsibilities, equally. However, in the place of initiation and religious devotions, the experience of men and women diverge. Although central symbols are shared, they appear to source their service from different places within themselves, as well as differing in their expression.
This PanTimes, let us pray. And listen in to what men are saying when the mice (or is it the cats) are away.