Sunday, August 30, 2009


This is a post I just made to the Imps Yahoo group concerning men in our community:

In recent weeks I am finding myself saddened by the plight of men in our community/culture. It started with the masturbation thread a few weeks back (at which time I started drafting this email but never finished), and the pervasive issue I've been perceiving that men are often villified for their strong sexual drives and how they express them. Now this email about a man being dismissed and ridiculed for expressing that he has experienced domestic violence at the hands of a woman breaks my heart. I see these issues as being related, so I am going to address them both.

Of course a woman can abuse a man. I have done it myself. My ex-husband and I used to get into nasty arguments and when I felt cornered by him (because he wouldn't give me my space to calm down, he literally stalked me around the house) I would respond with physical violence, whether throwing a cup of water at him or pushing him or even hitting him a couple of times. Having experienced domestic violence in a previous relationship, to the degree of having a gun put to my head, I had a trigger for feeling helpless. But whether or not I felt trapped by his abusive behaviors, escalating to violence was never ok (he never actually got physical with me except to defend himself). Because of my experience I can easily imagine that there are women who have been raised in violence, or who have survived violent relationships, who don't know how to handle conflict any differently. Size doesn't matter, especially if she is abusing a true gentleman who would never harm a woman, even in defense of himself.

I believe men have gotten a bad rap in our culture and that we don’t recognize that they are as damaged by our cultural sexual repression as women are, or that they can be victims as well. We focus our attention on the violation of women and don’t consider how men are not raised to handle their tremendous sexual energy in a healthy way, or that they may have experienced violation themselves. We judge men instead of offering them compassion.

When men don’t learn how to channel their sexual energy properly and behave inappropriately, we judge them as creeps and assholes, rejecting and ostracizing them. We don’t bring consciousness to the reality that men act in fearful rather than loving ways because they haven’t been loved well themselves, or taught how to love well. I believe more often men just don’t know how to communicate effectively to get their needs and desires met, or don’t even believe it’s possible because they’ve been told their sex drives are excessive, or they aren’t enough of something—attractive, charming, accomplished, rich—to be considered sexy and worthy of experiencing pleasure.

I've known many men who have been told by women they love that they are wrong/bad for wanting to get off nearly every day, that masturbation and desiring to use porn as a stimulant are wrong, implying that something is wrong with them for desiring/needing that release more often than their partner is willing to give it. Women are fearful that they are lacking in some way if their man needs to get off more than they can offer, so they restrict and oppress them with shame and judgment. Women are fearful if their men have sexual interest in any one other than them, even if they only ever express it through masturbatory fantasy, so they make men feel wrong/bad for basic biological responses over which they actually have little or no control. Men are wired to want to plant their seed all the time in as many women as possible. It's a biological fact and it's pretty amazing that they do control it as much as they do by practicing monogamy. When are we women going to allow them to express their drive in healthy ways without judgment? When are we going to overcome our own insecurities/ fears so that we don't shame and oppress the men we love?

I believe we have invested so much in the Creep archetype that we see it everywhere, even someplace as benign as a man pleasuring himself while he watches others play at a party. Would we judge a woman for doing the same thing or just think it was hot? I would much rather create the space for a man to be held in love and acceptance when masturbating, even if he chooses not to engage socially at the party, than have a man repress his sexual energy and eventually express it in an unhealthy way. That’s where sexual dysfunction comes from, repressing our natural tendencies. A dominant who doesn’t learn how to play through BDSM becomes a tyrant in the office or the home. A submissive who doesn’t learn to express their need to serve becomes a doormat for others, often accepting abuse. For every sexual expression and fetish that is born in us, there is a light or shadow quality to be expressed. Loving acceptance brings out the light, repression and oppression bring out the shadow. If we take the shame and stigma away from public self-love at our events, make it ok for a man to enjoy our exhibitionism and pleasure himself—whether he has a partner with him or not, but especially if he does not—then maybe we will help him find the confidence to express his powerful sexual energy in other positive ways.

In response to today's post about domestic violence, I find it likely that many men have been victims of some kind of abuse--emotional, physical or sexual--whether as children or adults. We are not a culture where only men are abusers and only women are victims. We are a culture where most of us are wounded by some kind of abuse or violence at the hands of men or women. Sensitive men/boys can be demasculated, humiliated and bullied by women/girls. Men/boys abuse men/boys in all kinds of ways, not just through pedophilia. I've known many men who have experienced some kind of violence or sexual violation by brothers or neighborhood boys. Men/boys are bullied by other men/boys. Is it any wonder that not only do many men have difficulty managing and expressing their sexual energy well, but also have difficulty being in any kind of meaningful relationship with other men? Even in our tribe, the women spend all kinds of social time together, but I know of little social interaction between the men separate from us. Not only do they have issues of their own, but they don't have the same social and emotional support that we women have with each other to create healing. Women can get together and talk about their issues openly. Who do men talk to other than their supportive partners, if they have one? How are men to heal and to learn to express their wonderful big sexy energy in positive ways if we can't even create and hold the space for them to be vulnerable enough to look at their issues consciously?

No matter what issue arises around what we do, I try to never forget that what we are doing is nothing short of revolutionary. Every moment is an opportunity to change the way people approach their sexuality and relationship and it could change the world if we were to get healthy about sex and love. There are many opportunities within this community for choosing to do things differently that our culture tells us to. It all comes back to remembering that people hurt each other out of fear...fear of being unlovable, fear of being hurt, fear of never belonging, fear of losing the love they have. The only way to counteract that fear is to choose to respond lovingly to each other, no matter the situation. And to risk doing things differently. How do we create the safe space for men to address their issues around sex and love? What can we do to encourage openness and emotional vulnerability for the men in our community? How can women experience their own sense of safety while holding space for men to learn how to express their desires for sex and love in positive ways? How do we stop ourselves from becoming defensive and labeling a man a creep when it's likely he just feels unsure of himself and unable to express his desire in a non-aggressive or awkward way?

I don't have the answers to these questions myself yet, but I do try to keep my awareness on these ideas when I witness uncomfortable situations arise between men and women. I hope that if others do so as well, we can change some of the dynamics that have been taking place and create an even deeper experience of love and acceptance than we have before.