Tony Gaskins has inspired others by sharing his truth—drawing millions of followers online and making him one of America’s foremost experts on love and relationships. Now, he and his wife explore a woman’s positive impact on a relationship in this practical and accessible guide that walks you through a series of irreplaceable lessons on making personal changes that foster healthy relationships. Tony and his wife, Sheri, draw on their own relationship successes and failures as they examine the eighteen time-tested truths about how a woman’s influence can shift a relationship for the better—if used correctly.
Including advice for women such as “you are not a maid,” “show don’t tell,” and the “72-hour rule”—where the woman makes herself totally unreachable to her partner—Tony and Sheri tackle all of today’s important topics such as misogyny and the “grown boy syndrome,” while never losing the empowering and empathetic tone that Tony’s loyal following has come to love and trust.
Whether you are single, dating, engaged, or married, A Woman’s Influence is a hopeful response to a culture where men behave badly and women are victimized all too often. By providing a vision that empowers women to know their worth and simultaneously bring out the best in men, this guidebook can help you make a lasting, positive change to your relationship.
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About the Author
Sheri Gaskins has been married to Tony for ten years. She holds a bachelors in biomedical science and a masters in medical sciences from the University of South Florida. She helps Tony manage the Gaskins companies while raising their two boys.
Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1: A Man’s World Chapter 1 A MAN’S WORLD
From the White House to your house, we live with the world’s reasoning that a man should lead without the influence of a woman. For thousands of years, women were suppressed to a life of being “barefoot and pregnant.” I believed everything I was taught about women and everything I saw play out in the world around me. It all said that a man is the head and a woman is the tail. It’s a man’s world, and men have all the say in what happens. Millions of women believe the same thing. Although there’s an uprising of women who are determined to shake things up, the majority of women I meet have suppressed their inner wisdom and greatness to assume a lesser role in life.
Most of the women I meet and see portrayed on television who are fighting against the system seem to be doing so from a place of anger and frustration. I can’t blame them because I’m sure I’d be upset if the world had its foot on my neck and shackles on my feet. In a lot of ways, the fights of women and people of color are similar. Imagine the fight of a woman of color. That has to be the lowest position in the world, if we’re being honest. To be born a certain race or to be born a woman are things beyond our control. Yet you have to suffer the consequences of which you can’t control. This book isn’t about race relations, so I’ll speak from a male perspective about the downside of being a woman. I know every woman knows what it’s like more than I do, but I’m speaking because I was a part of the side causing the pain. I’d like to explain what it is and why it is.
Men operate from fear. Fear is the reason men join gangs. Fear is the reason men join fraternities. Fear is the reason men get tattoos. Fear is the reason men do anything, really. Some men come into this knowledge and consciously change the place from which they operate. Men join gangs out of fear of being bullied or fear of being seen as uncool. Men get tattoos out of fear of being seen as soft, uncool, or unattractive to women. Men join fraternities out of fear of being left out, ostracized, seen as uncool or unconnected. Yes, there are real reasons and positive reasons why we do some of these things, too, but if you dig deep enough, the root is fear—not love. Fear is the same reason a man will deny this truth to himself and to his woman reading this book. A man will say, “That’s just Tony’s opinion; he’s only speaking for himself.” I am speaking from experience, but some truths are universal. If you get to the root of things, what sense does it make to do a lot of what we do?
I decided to rush for a fraternity in college. I did it because my teammate asked me to do it. He did it because his father and his brother were a part of the same fraternity. As I started the process, I noticed a void in every man I met. They were either challenged in their looks, socially awkward, or unique in their own way or had been starved of male attention or companionship. The big brother told me he had joined the fraternity because he had grown up with three sisters and a single mother. Others told me they had joined for the connections after college. As I went through the process, it wasn’t adding up. They were telling me they were breaking me down to then build me up. So they slapped me on my bare chest, yelled in my face, ran me over running full speed in a muddy field—for what? To join a group of guys I didn’t like, pay dues to something I didn’t understand, just to wear letters and be a part of the group at parties? I dropped out. The guys I met were operating from fear and/or insecurity. What other reason is there to pay to be beat on and cursed out? I see a lot of those guys from fraternities asking me for help today. Why do you need my connections or me as a connection? I thought that was what the group was for—or was it? Is it really that you wanted to be seen as cool and attractive to the college women? Let’s be honest here. Men hate this kind of talk. This talk is confrontational. It’s seen as disrespectful. We get so lost in the sauce that the truth is a disease. We don’t evaluate why we do what we do.
I got tattoos in college to look sexy to women and tough to guys. Let’s be honest: if you have tattoos, even one of them is for a loved one you lost. You didn’t need a tattoo for that, though. You just decided to make it mean something since you were getting it anyway. What’s the real reason you got it? Because you saw another man with it? Because the thugs or the cool guys you saw growing up had them? Because the markings of tattoos would detour the bullies? What is the real reason? No, dig deeper. The first thought you had when you decided to get a tattoo was what? Only you know the real truth. Did you want to be cool? Did you want to stand out? Did you want to fit in? Or do you just love a painful needle poking your skin to leave permanent ink on it? Do you just love art? Do you love body art because of the beauty and historical meanings behind it? If a man can be honest with himself about why he does the things he does, our world can change for the better.
Men operate from fear, pain, and insecurity more often than any other feelings. I remember when my son was really little and we went to a resort in Cancún. We were about to go to the pool. My son asked me if I had to take my shirt off. I told him yes. He asked me because he didn’t like the tattoos on my chest and stomach and wanted to know if I’d keep my shirt on to conceal them. Tattoos make no sense to the mind of a child. In that moment, I realized they made no sense to me, either. What logical sense does it make to permanently mark your body based on a temporary thought or feeling? How will you look at eighty years old with a body full of tattoos? I ask men these questions to start the process of doing the work. We have to do the real work—the inner work. If we are afraid to confront ourselves, we can’t move forward in a positive and productive manner.
Confrontation of self leads to discovery and inner truth. That truth is a divine truth that will unlock the secrets of life and manifest every righteous desire of your heart. At our core, we want peace and prosperity. It’s impossible to have those things if you’re lying to yourself. Only you can discover your inner truth. I can lead you to the water, but I can’t make you drink. I can give you the knowledge, but I can’t make you think. You have to confront yourself. You live with the fruit. But have you analyzed your root? If we sat down in conversation and I posed these questions, trying to point you to your inner truth, it might lead to a fistfight. I’d have to defend myself against the male ego. I’ve had these conversations with men in person, and they would start yelling and screaming at me, trying to scare me to stop asking life-altering questions. I once had a similar conversation with a guy who weighed over three hundred pounds, and one blow from him in the right place could have taken my life. As I questioned him and dug deeper, he began to yell at me, but at the same time, he was crying. My heart skipped a beat when he yelled at me. I felt his anger. He’d never been that deep. To this day, he still hasn’t confronted his inner truth. The truth is too real for most of us. It requires change, and change is painful.
I remember asking a pro athlete who earns over $20 million a year about the trend of tattoos in his sport. He’d answered every other question I had asked, but the tattoo question never received an answer. I searched pictures of pro athletes from their rookie years and then pictures from their fourth or fifth years. In a lot of men, there is a drastic change. I can’t call it growing up or maturing, because the pictures suggest otherwise. I noticed a trend of fitting in, insecurity, and ego. I’ve heard the term “fragile male ego,” and I realize now that I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen an ego that isn’t fragile. We confuse arrogance with confidence because of our insecurity. We call ourselves the greatest because no one else is calling us that. We boast and brag about our accomplishments because they define us. Confidence is quiet. Insecurity is loud and speaks even when not asked to. To confront our insecurity is so painful, we don’t even venture near it. Anyone who tries to help us uncover our truth is in imminent danger. We guard our inner truth like a vicious dog guarding its master. Your inner truth should be your master, but instead, we mask it with insecurity and lies to ourselves.
It’s a man’s world because we’ve forced the issue. On average, men are physically stronger than women. We’ve equated that strength with leadership. The strongest person isn’t always the smartest or the wisest. Muscles have nothing to do with the brain. We’ve ignored that fact for centuries. The fact that women live longer than men, give birth to children, and think with both sides of the brain has been swept under the rug. It’s a painful truth for men to realize that God showed favor when designing a woman. Yes, women have some unfortunate things their bodies go through that no man would trade places to experience. As men, we truthfully have it very easy. I say it to myself all the time—I couldn’t imagine bleeding for a week and going about my life as if nothing is happening. What is menopause? I couldn’t begin to tell you. Giving birth? I’ve read that giving birth is equivalent to breaking twenty bones at the same time. The thought of that nearly sends me into shock. As a man, I had to be real with myself. After I broke many hearts and took many women for granted, my wife brought me to my knees in the realization that she is not less than I. Truthfully, she is not my equal. She is greater. I have no desire to pander to women. If this were the days of old, men would stone me to death and laugh with every throw just for mentioning these things. Someone who looks like me and who has walked the path I’ve walked has to tell the unadulterated truth: This should not be a man’s world.
We look at the world at large, but we don’t break the world down to what it really is. The world is made up of a bunch of people who are divided by individual families, birthed by women and nurtured by women. Very few men have decoded the matrix and become the one a child runs to when he or she is sick or hurt. In most cases, it’s Mom. I’ve learned in the cases when my sons come to me hurting or sick, it’s because their mom isn’t home or because they are trying to milk their sickness to get new toy from Daddy. When you look at pro athletes and men who have made a lot of money, how many of them brag about what they’ve done for their dad? Everyone wants to buy their mom a house and a car. Everyone wants to retire their mom. My dad was in my life every step of the way, but when I made it, I retired my mom, not my dad. I bought my mom a new car, not my dad. I give my mom money each month, not my dad. I love my dad with all of me, but for some reason, I see a man differently than I see a woman, even though he was there for me and still is here for me.
My point is that women are problem solvers. Women are nurturers. Women are managers. Women are the brains of the operation. In most marriages, men say, “I have to ask my wife, and I’ll get back to you.” You’ve also heard the phrase “Happy wife, happy life.” Well, why don’t we say, “Happy women, happy country”? Why have we debased the woman and made her the footstool of society? Why did we have forty-plus presidents before a woman even had a chance at winning? What’s the difference between running a home and running the country? If a man can’t run a home, how can he run a country? Yes, this realization hurts for me as well as every other man, but I’ve come to realize that it’s simple logic we’ve overlooked for centuries. Why? Because of fear. Men operate from fear. Fear is the cause of slavery. Fear is the cause of racism. Fear is the cause of bigotry. Fear is the cause of sexism. Fear is the cause of misogyny.
Mi-sog-y-ny (noun): Dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.
Why does the word misogyny exist? How can contempt for women be ingrained? Why would a man dislike, feel contempt for, or have an ingrained prejudice against women? It’s all because of fear. We fear what we don’t understand. I dislike animals because I don’t understand them. They can’t speak, so I don’t know what they are thinking or what they need, so I fear them. I fear that their innate defense mechanisms are stronger and more dangerous than mine. I fear that in a fight with an animal, I’ll lose. I realize that the same way I see animals is the same way a racist person sees me. He fears me because he doesn’t understand me, and that fear leads to hate. He feels that in a fight with me, he will lose. He feels that in a battle with me, I will overtake him and take everything he owns. So his defense mechanism is to hate me. That same type of fear is what creates misogyny. At the core of a man, we know that most women are better rounded than us. We also know that a woman can do just about anything we can do. If she can’t do it physically, she can create a way to get it done. We fear that in a battle with a woman, we will lose. Therefore, we use the system at hand to suppress women into a role of unhealthy submission in the home and in the workplace. This is all too real. It’s a truth we don’t want to admit because we fear losing control and the social norms to which we’ve become accustomed.
On Instagram, I occasionally do a Q and A. Once a woman asked, “If I don’t cook and clean for my boyfriend, how can I show him I’m wife material?” That question stopped me in my tracks. The question floored me and taught me so much. The question implies that wives are there to cook and clean, and if a woman doesn’t do so, she’s not a wife. She has an entire brain that functions on a level unknown to mankind because she’s been reduced to cooking and cleaning. Ironically, many of the world-renowned chefs are men, but it’s women we’ve made the cooks in the home. Where did we go wrong?
I realized that when I made my world my wife’s world as well, things got better. Some of my greatest strides have come from her suggestions. She magnifies or multiplies everything I bring to her. A man gives a woman sperm, and look what her body creates from it. A woman gets a house and makes it a home. How can women manage every moving part of what makes up the country but not be chosen to run the country? How can women be included in every important decision a man makes and the rearing of the world’s greatest humans but not be given full credit for the contributions to society? We have Black History Month because an entire race suffered in America. I don’t know of a women’s month. International Women’s Day is on my birthday, March 8. Maybe that’s why God chose me to help lead this movement. I don’t think it strange or a coincidence that my life has brought me to this point of realization or recognition. Women can fight for women, but until men fight for women, we haven’t grown as a people.
I think it’s time we start to get to the root as men. Identify where you’re operating from and why. Be very truthful with yourself about why you may cheat on a woman. What was the reason you tried to control a woman? Then identify how what we do in our relationships shapes the world. From the White House to your house. Is it a man’s place to run everything and have the final say in what is and isn’t done? Do you truly value the mind of your woman? Yes, you may have an order in your home that says you are the head, but does your woman have a voice? Even if society as a whole operates as if it’s a man’s world, we can start in our own homes to find balance and synergy in our voices and efforts. I believe a woman was placed on Earth to make everything she touches greater. I’ve experienced this in my marriage. By no means am I saying that women are perfect. I’m saying that even their imperfections may have something to do with the way we as men treat them. If you give a woman a good father and/or a good husband, or if a woman has no man in her life but isn’t harassed or abused by men, she will produce on a level unimaginable. As men, we’ve altered the course of women and our world by operating from fear instead of from love.
I grew up with a very strong Jamaican mom, so I never had the image that this is a man’s world and we as women just live in it. I didn’t realize that was a real narrative until I got older and discovered that many women feel as if they are made to be subservient to men. There is a big difference between being submissive and subservient, and I now realize that a lot of people confuse the two.
I was never taught that the only goal I was supposed to have was to grow up and get married to be a wife. I was an athlete growing up, so I spent a lot of late nights at games. I was never taught to cook dinner every night or take care of the household. I am not saying those aren’t great things to know, but because I wasn’t raised with those things at the forefront of my mind, I never viewed male-female roles the same way as other people did. I saw my single mom be who she was and do what she needed to get stuff done. And I saw her do the same when she was married. Watching her, I realized that people could be the same with or without a relationship. She never once complained about being lonely when she wasn’t in a relationship. I also watched her walk away from a marriage that had become toxic, without missing a beat. Seeing that, I never thought of dating as a priority when other girls were obsessed with it. I realized that marriage is great but my happiness would not be determined by what relationship I was or wasn’t in. My goals were about my future, getting a full scholarship to school, and becoming a doctor; everything else was just extra.
When I did begin to date, I valued myself and what I wanted for myself so much that I didn’t even consider being with someone if it didn’t make me happy. At the time I didn’t realize how important it was, but I understand its power now. As a woman in this so-called man’s world, we have so much more power than we could ever imagine. That power is in the form of influence. But that influence can be unlocked only when you learn to love yourself and value yourself. With those things in your arsenal you can literally change the world—well, at least your world. The influence you have can change how everyone around you operates and can leave a lasting impression on every relationship you enter into.
- You can be submissive without being subservient.
- Your power is in the form of influence.
- True influence is unlocked when you love yourself and understand your worth.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 A Man's World 5
Chapter 2 Know Your Worth 17
Chapter 3 Power Versus Influence 31
Chapter 4 The Grown-Boy Syndrome 43
Chapter 5 The Poker Face 55
Chapter 6 The 72-Hour Rule 67
Chapter 7 Break Up to Make Up 81
Chapter 8 Show, Don't Tell 93
Chapter 9 The Rules of Engagement 105
Chapter 10 Let Him Love You 121
Chapter 11 When We Play Mind Games, Everyone Loses 131
Chapter 12 Complacency Is the Enemy 141
Chapter 13 Just Say "No" 155
Chapter 14 Honor and Respect 165
Chapter 15 Trust and Freedom 175
Chapter 16 Sex Is a Plus 187
Chapter 17 You're Not a Maid 197
Chapter 18 Silence Is Golden 207
Chapter 19 Don't Compete 217
Epilogue: A Woman's Influence 225