You are NOT Exempt from #metoo
Are you a good man? Confused by all of this #meetoo talk? Do you feel like other guys are to blame, like somehow you haven't been part of the culture?
Yeah, I used to feel that way too. But the truth is that most of the women you know have experienced some sort of sexual assault and ALL of the women you know and love have been objectified, sexually harassed, and subjected to a very unconscious masculine culture.
And whether or not you caused it, you're still responsible for it. As hard as that pill is to swallow. Man to man, provider to provider, I implore you to read on.
I clearly remember the first time I apologized to a random woman on behalf of all men for not making her feel safe.
That #metoo moment changed my life.
Not for the reasons you might think.
You see, I resisted doing it.
At my first workshop at my first Burning Man, I had just completed an eye-gazing and hugging exercise that broke through my resistances really fast. I saw love in the eyes of men and women, old and young, conventionally attractive and plain - every one of them were so beautiful.
But this instructor was asking too much. I never harmed a woman. I never so much as touched a girl while flirting unless she initiated.
My dad raised me to be better than that, why should I apologize for all the douchebags who took advantage of women and are making the rest of us look bad?
But this is burning man. I am here to learn a different way of living.
So, I found myself standing in front of a beautiful Scandinavian woman about my age. And as I looked into her eyes I saw the universe. I saw her love, I saw her want, I saw her fear, I saw her pain.
But what I saw, more than anything, was her longing to trust a man. To be seen by a man. To be protected by a man.
And that’s when I understood - this wasn’t just some individual girl wanting an individual boy - this was the feminine wanting to feel safe with the masculine.
And it broke my heart.
To think that the feminine can’t feel fully safe with the masculine.... I mean.... it’s devastating.
Because all I have ever wanted, my whole life, was to give my heart fully to the feminine and to be fully received by her.
And if she cannot receive me because of something I’ve done, I will apologize, I will make it right, and I will alchemize it into a gift from which we rise stronger and become more connected.
So I apologized to her on behalf of men for not making her feel safe in the world. It was the least I could do.
You might think, "But this wasn’t your fault! you never did anything..."
Or did I?
7th grade, I started watching porn. I hid it as best I could. But, eventually you realize that basically all the other boys are watching it too.
So you start to talk about it. Certain body parts become obsessions.
Half way through our 8th grade year, a new girl shows up. She was the first girl my age I remember having breasts.
This was LITERALLY all the boys talked about. I knew it was “wrong” to talk about sexual stuff with my friends, but it never dawned on me that the problem wasn't the nature of the conversation so much as the fact that a real human being was involved. I felt bad, but it was just typical religious sex shame.
The other boys would scheme of ways to brush by her and “accidentally” graze, touch, or grab, her breasts. A couple of times I attempted to dissuade them... “dude, that’s not cool!” But I would feel so uncool saying it that, rather than standing my ground, I'd just laugh it off like it was no big deal.
I once even threw a Cheeto down her top at a basketball game. Just because I never physically touched her, I felt I had done nothing wrong. But it is clear now that I not only objectified her, I was complicit in her mass groping, and even teased her about her body.
But we were boys. And we were curious. This is to be expected by an early developing consciousness trying to understand its feelings, hormones, body parts and the social dynamic. I forgive myself and those boys for our ignorant and unguided behavior. I hope she does forgives us as well.
Boys will be boys, so what about once I was a man?
Well the porn didn’t stop. Literally the commercialized mass objectification of women. Again only feeling guilty because of the sexual nature in general, my religion kept me from being capable of understanding the nuances of what is and is not acceptable sexual behavior. The way I was raised - outside of marriage: bad, inside of marriage: automatic consent (we'll cover that latter fallacy in another blog post.)
No longer associated with gropers (they grew out of it or ended up in very different social groups than me), I was now in the world of business.
Oh, the great and mighty pursuit of wealthiness!
It is widely accepted among the communities in which I grew up that business is for men and women run the home. So any career-minded woman was playing in a man’s world. I was jealous and felt almost like it was cheating to be a woman in the working world.
I would see all of these pretty girls at the same levels of success as me, working the same jobs as me, and (quite often) doing better than I was.
So, far from sexually harassing women or seeing them as inferior, I was intimidated as hell.
Yet because I was so focused on me, what I missed was how these successful women got to where they were - they were all pretty. (by conventional standards... certainly by the the standards of the people hiring and promoting them)
You see, there is a whole other type of sexual harassment that lurks in even the most compliant HR workshop laden corporations. I call this sexual promotion. Seemingly the opposite of gender inequality, men often hire and promote women based on their looks. There are many women who will never get a crack at this level based on merit alone. Of course, I was too self obsessed to see the plain double standard.
Many of these aesthetically-selected women didn’t seem to mind being sexually harassed. The culture being that... well... it’s ok if they say they’re cool with it... right?
There is a lot of pressure put on women to be “one of the guys.” An insidious charade permitting men to objectify other women in front of their female friends/co-workers or even sexually harass their female colleagues as a perverted form of flirting that is supposed to make her look cool among the other guys.
I worked in an office like this for the better part of a year. It was the darkest period of my life for many reasons including the recent death of my father and financial struggles. I don’t remember everything I did back then, but I remember the tone of the environment and it wasn’t the provider/protector energy the the masculine can and should honor the feminine with. Rather, it was a predator energy that, even as I write this, makes me want to go on the attack against. But I didn't. Shamefully, I just ran.
While I escaped this period of my life. I did little to help the women I left behind in it. Except for one amazing young lady that I saw so much promise in that i encouraged her to get out and go after her calling.
These days, I see her in the news almost every month doing political analysis on TV. Something that she always aspired to do. It’s so suiting for her. I am very proud of what she has done. She was and is very brave to subject herself to business and political machines geared towards the promotion of men over women.
Along the way I was blessed with two daughters.
Boy, will that change the way you look at women. Now, an excuse like “she was ok with it,” took on a whole new level of blind ignorance. I began to see all women as someone’s daughter. Ok with it or not, no one's daughter should ever be subjected to the harassment I silently witnessed.
So when I apologized to that woman at Burning Man, it healed the space between us. We hugged and she received me.
Then came the moment that gave me a new perspective on the battle of the sexes.
It is popular right now to talk about how men have been winning the battle of the sexes for too long, and now it is time for women to rule.
Here is the thing we need to remember - battles have casualties on both sides. Just because someone new is winning, doesn’t make things better. It doesn’t make things fair. It simply means more people are hurting.
The feminism of the late twentieth century did much to level the playing field, but still calls upon women to operate in their masculine to compete, rather than support them to let their femininity reign.
What we are seeing now is a post-feminism.
Rather than retaliatory vindictiveness and anti-male propaganda that continues to widen the division between the sexes, in the most forward-thinking and socially evolved circles of humanity, we are seeing a healing of that divide - a drawing together of masculine and feminine energies in a sacred space of trust and love.
And it is 100% the responsibility of the masculine to lead us into this new era. Because, until she trusts us, she cannot fully express herself and we cannot access her heart and receive her love.
After we finished hugging, she wiped the tears from her eyes and she apologized to me!
“On behalf of women, I am sorry. I am sorry for demanding that you always be tough. I am sorry for not allowing you to expose your heart and for taking you for granted...”
The more she spoke, the more I felt my guard go down. I began to cry. How did she know? How could she see my pain, how hard it was been to be a man in a world full of women I didn’t understand? I didn’t even know until this moment how much I had been protecting my heart from women.
So I let my guard down and received her love, we hugged and said our farewells. I never saw her again, but this experience set me on a new course.
The next two years were nothing short of a masterclass in masculine-feminine dynamics.
I learned that we are two halves of a whole. That society wants us to believe that we don’t need each other, but the truth is, our planet is starving for feminine affection, healing, and leadership.
I learned that feminine doesn’t mean woman and masculine doesn’t mean man. We all have both and, until we understand the differences, we will continue to misunderstand each other.
I learned how to listen to my own queen’s heart behind her words, how to listen to and speak to the energy of her body, and how to have empathy the fact that simply being a woman completely changes the way she models the world in her mind.
I coached men on being in their provider and protector roles - even in a culture that tells us we are unnecessary and unneeded. Because, despite what many feminists say - I’ve seen the heart of the feminine. And she longs for her masculine - not to save her. But to support her, to protect her, and to create the space for her unfolding.
Can this be done without a man? On an individual level? Can a person be so empowered that they use their own masculinity to support their own femininity? I believe the answer is yes. But life is so much more rich when we play as a team than going it alone.
Or as a dear friend of mine said at Burning Man this year. “We need and honor our men. They build the stage we dance upon.” This metaphor I have seen over and over as I have done all I can to heal the divide - one woman at a time.
I’m more conscious of how I treat my wife in front of my daughters. What I watch and how I speak about women has evolved from childhood obsession to adolescent competition, to a sense of reverence and worship of the divine feminine nature of all living things - especially women.
I have coached women through tears of past pain. I’ve held space for them as they shared their almost ubiquitous stories of sexual harassment and abuse. I once even held a former sex worker as she cried in my arms processing all of the pain she experienced at the hands of other men. As I held her, I allowed the provider energy (divine father) to flow through me and heal her by channeling the love that I have for my own daughters into my body as we embraced.
What I have experienced is nothing short of miraculous. Women are so much more than we are allowing them be. And the narrative that we need to just get out of their way is missing the point entirely.
The problem is not that we are standing in their way. The problem is that we are completely not showing up for them at all. We are focused too much on defending ourselves or chastising ourselves.
Really? That’s it? Rather than do whatever is necessary to support, heal, defend, and worship the feminine, we hide?
This is our great call to arms.
Both women and men. To usher in a new era.
Most women aren’t supported. They aren’t defended. They don’t have men who know how to hold space for them.
And most men are afraid to open their hearts to women for fear of being hurt by their judgements and not received.
We must break this pattern. And the battle of the sexes ends one relationship at a time.
While the feminine certainly has her role to play, she cannot do it until you show up as the provider and protector that she needs you to be.
And who is “she?” Not just your lover. She is your mother, your sister, your daughter, your friend. She is the store clerk you saw disrespected, the college girl you saw cat-called, the unsuspecting women that you and your friends keep ranking on a scale form 1-10 like she is a cut of meat. All of these women need you to find your inner-warrior and you need to fight the real battle. And it’s not a battle of the sexes, it’s a battle of philosophies.
Ever since Trump’s “grab her by the p***y” recording came out, good men have been trying to find their role in this conversation.
It has brought this topic to the surface. Many have asked, “where do we draw the line?” But it’s not just a matter of what we stop doing - whether it’s physical assault or just 'locker room talk' - it's also what we need to start doing that can heal the divide.
And what we must start doing is creating safe spaces for the feminine to blossom. Not because you get something out of it (though we all benefit when women feel safe), but because it is your duty as a masculine energy.
So step up. Take a stand. Hold space. And speak out. Not only to stop what men are doing wrong, but to be an example of what we can do right.
There are entire groups of women in this world who have never even met a conscious man. They will distrust you by default. Do not feel rejected and do not judge them. Continue to be an example and the women who are ready for healing will thank you and you will have contributed to the great expansion and healing of our weary gender relations.
And if you’re ever in doubt? Remember you have one job with every woman you meet: make her feel safe
Let me say that again in case you missed it.
MAKE HER FEEL SAFE
When the feminine feels safe, she unleashes the superpowers of healing, beauty, and love that the planet has yet to see.
After all, we all know that a child is healthier and happier when they have a balance of masculine and feminine mentorship. So, too is this true for all of nature. The species, the planet, the universe needs us in a balance of harmony, not a battle for superiority.
So let this be the call to drop your weapons and enter a new era:
The Alliance of the Sexes