Men and women deserve equal opportunities. Earning money, having a career, voting, the right to choose - these opportunities should be equal regardless of race, gender, and sexuality. Women have come a long way in the last 50 years. The sexes spend more time together than ever before. Look at tribes, traditional families, and the 1950s household. Women stay with women, and men stay with men. This is the first time in the history of the society that we spend so much time together and switch roles. It’s a brilliant experiment whose time has come, but we must move into it with proper understanding of one fundamental fact: men and women are different.
Plain and simple. We are biologically, spiritually, and intellectually different. Dismissing these biological differences creates unrealistic expectations on men and women and widens the gap between the sexes, making it impossible to learn how to co-exist peacefully and enjoyably. I see this in heterosexual couples that I counsel. Once they learn to accept their biological differences, an incredible amount of understanding and beautiful, almost unreal communication and connection enters like never before. And it stays.
We understand that women are dominated by estrogen and men are dominated by testosterone. These two hormones greatly affect how we act as sexual, physical, intellectual, and emotional beings. Camille Paglia is a radical liberal feminist whose work I absolutely love. She has two theories I stand behind:
Estrogen is a secure hormone of the nurturer, whereas testosterone is the insecure hormone of the creator. Simply put: women have their sense of identity upon their first period and men create their identity largely through accomplishments and proving their work. I know this to be true just from being a man, and by the work I do with men and women. It doesn’t mean women cannot achieve and men cannot be secure. It simply suggests that the dominant hormone tends to greatly influence how we respond, react, and interact with our community/society/world. Men are driven hormonally to prove themselves in a way most (not all) women are not.
2) Sexuality is subconscious, primitive, and somatic. Which means it is happening in the body long before it enters the conscious mind. This is especially true for men, again, hormonally. Men in America (and possibly everywhere now) have lost the brotherhood. Once a coven of elders, fathers, uncles, and brothers who facilitated rites of passages into manhood, these groups helped young men develop platonic intimacy with their fellow man, security in their masculinity, and helped them understand their sexual powers and how to control them with boundaries.
The brotherhood has since been replaced with movies like American Pie and other media renditions of the modern young man. Beer guzzling, arrogant, ignorant and over sexualized to the point of utter insecurity and desperation. This is what we feed our boys. This and wrestling. A hyper masculinized culture, mixed with testosterone, is a breeding ground for out of control sexuality and a complete lack of awareness of one’s sexual energy and boundaries. A woman walks in a room feeling liberated in a sensual, beautiful outfit and a man’s somatic body and unconscious mind is thinking: sex. Once this is understood a major shift can take place.
Our dismissal of these biological differences and how they affect us has created a villainous archetype for all men through shame and judgement, while largely underestimating women’s abilities to protect themselves and be powerful. Garrsion Keilor once said “A world without sexual harassment is a world without flirting”. And he was right. Someone’s personal rejection or offensive take of another’s sexual, intellectual, or physical energy doesn’t mean they’ve been harassed. It just means they’re not sharing the same reality. Most cases are innocent mistakes, and the media is forcing us to label it harassment and pick sides.
Bureaucracy, authority, and government is standing between men and women. We can see this with the recent sexual harassment allegations when the formerly mentioned MPR host Garrison Kiellor is fired, defamed, and his looks are ridiculed on TV because of one allegation before he’s even been found guilty. Removing due process is a fundamental pillar of a fascist country. Even a police officer who badly injures or kills another human being retains their positions until due process finds them guilty or not guilty. Being offensive or offended is not a crime.
Free people have the right to express and reject anything they wish. The words we use, the mannerisms we speak with, the way we communicate with touch - these vital, sensual, somatic expressions make us human. The large capacity for error, awkwardness, and offensiveness is part of our experience and to remove that would be like removing your brain to prevent depression. We need to understand the difference between sexual harassment and bad boundaries.
When someone uses sex (or any other condition for that matter) as a threat to your life or your job then yes - you have been harassed and threatened. This should be reported immediately and investigated. Often, when it’s sexual, the person being harassed is met with such shame (especially if they gave in) and that shame freezes us because it’s traumatic. This is when you seek a therapist or healer to help you clear the shame and trauma, move through it safely, then take action when you feel ready.
On the opposite spectrum, when someone has bad sexual boundaries (no threats, just actions) or you have a full-on affair with your boss because they are well known, can give you a raise, or for any other intimidating or gaining purpose - this is not sexual harassment. This is simply bad boundaries and it should be met with a firm “no” or a nice big slap in the face. End of story. I know plenty of people in these situations - I’ve been in them myself when I worked at a gay piano bar in the West Village! You just say no and walk away. If the person continues, then he or she has entered the realm of harassment and needs to be reported.
There are sadistic, psychopathic people in this world who have no clue about reality and they have no gauge or empathy for how they’re affecting others - some who even want to do harm. These people are dangerous and make up the bulk of sex offenders. Then, there are men and women who are sharing pheromonal (hormones emitted that send subconscious, somatic signals from one person to another) space and neither of them have a clue about their sexual power over one another, as well as their sexual boundaries. They are innocent and ignorant. Do not confuse the ignorant with the psychopathic. This is what we’re doing and it’s creating a war among men and women, and a huge mob that is defaming, ridiculing, and ruining people’s lives.
I reject this out of love and compassion, for I do not believe in mob rule. The Witches of the 17th century, Native Americans, Japanese, Jews, African Americans, Muslims - there’s always a new villain who is stoned by the mob. We need to understand that what we fear is what we unknowingly are. It’s a shadow part from our past, or simply unexplored within ourselves. We are many things made of everything. We are multi-dimensional. We have judged, and we will be judged. We have hated, we will be hated, We have loved, and we will be loved. This is true empathy and compassion. This is the way to heal this.
Understanding we are all of the same nature, of light and dark, of ignorant and enlightened. This humility, this humble perspective connects us so deeply and so sincerely with one another so that we can stop creating enemies and we can start understanding where someone is coming from, having compassion for their own pain, and at the same time realizing our own power and self worth so we can create our futures without bureaucracies doing it for us, and without the news and the headlines telling us how we should feel and who we should hate next. As Richard Bach so beautifully wrote: hate is love without all the facts.
I want to close by saying that sexual abuse, assault and rape should never be justified or tolerated. These are serious violent offenses that stretch beyond bad boundaries, harassment, and ignorance. These are intentional crimes against someone and their body. If you or someone you know is confused between what’s been done to them, it’s important to reach out to a therapist or healer that works with sexual abuse. In safe space, you can reclaim your innocence and make sense of what was done. Then you will find your next step to healing from it.