“What am I supposed to do now? How am I supposed to act? Men can’t do anything anymore.”
This shared frustration is common (and understandable) among men in the wake of the #MeToo movement. As women continue to come forward with stories of sexual harassment and assault, men are starting to see that behavior they thought normal was actually causing harm. It’s one thing to call out inappropriate behavior, but, once we realize a problem, how do we move forward? How do we heal the past and create a new, healthy way of relating?
Tantra offers relating tools that help heal old trauma and teach what healthy behavior looks like. We wanted to get a Tantric man’s perspective on the #MeToo movement, to see how men are being affected and how Tantra can help navigate this new world. We spoke with Bob, a long time student and practitioner of Tantra, to gain perspective on the man’s side of #MeToo.
the state of manhood in this age of #MeToo
I’m 68 now and live in a state of compassion and respect of women’s boundaries. This, unfortunately, wasn’t always true. At 38, those weren’t concepts I knew at all. As a younger man I did things that I shouldn’t have, things that I would never do today. I pushed my sexuality onto women. If I could push past the “no,” I did. And looking back at it, I’m going, “Oh, my goodness gracious.” I just wouldn’t do that today.Through the tantric practice I saw how much my old behavior was inappropriate and how to move forward. Today I counsel people on what good and bad behavior looks like. There are Tantric practices that teach people what consent is, how to make a request for what they want, and how to hear “no” without pushing forward or needing an explanation as to why not. That is a really difficult practice; hearing “no” without knowing why. But that is what men need to do to start healing the relationship with women.
How men are receiving #MeToo
I’m observing that a lot of the guys don’t get it. They may get it theoretically or philosophically. But individually, personally, it’s a tough sell. I just had a conversation with some of my fishing friends. We were talking about #MeToo and about consent, permission, et cetera. Two of the guys wondered why they couldn’t compliment a woman at work about what she was wearing. They believed that she was dressing up to look good for them – to look good for men on the outside – rather than to just look good for herself.I tried to compare a woman dressing up at work to them wearing a nice suit. I said, “When you’re wearing a nice suit you think, ‘Oh, I feel good in this today. I’m not wearing it to receive compliments from anybody in particular.’” But they couldn’t get the connection. They couldn’t see that just saying something could be wrong or cause problems.
Can tantra help?
For starters, it’s going to take a lot of awareness and compassionate listening. Instead of men being reactive and saying, “I can’t do anything anymore!” they instead need to start understanding where women are coming from. I know from my own experience that this process takes time and a lot of internal digging. I compare it to playing football. There is a lot of pain and a lot of agony, but you keep coming back day after day. You don’t phrase it in terms of pain and agony but rather look at the goal and the teamwork. And you let that goal override the negatives. That’s what it’s going to take, because the old paradigm is shifting and we need to work together to create the new.And, actually, women aren’t going to be able to shift it. It’s going to take men shifting it for men. It’s going to take guys like me talking to my fishing friends. It’s not coming from our political, church or spiritual leader. “You know, gentlemen, we have to clean ourselves up.”
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