So I am reading a blog by James Altucher and a vignette takes my breath away:

“I remember as a kid, three honor roll students at my lunch table discussing the pros and cons of the following question: “if a beautiful girl was sitting in a room alone, naked, would you rape her?” This is what little boys think about. Boys who grow into men.

Hilary, June 30th, 2016

June celebrates Gay Pride. In my city of Portland Oregon the Gay Pride Parade of June 19th was the biggest yet. Many of us turned out to support the Gay+ community in the aftermath of the murder spree in a Gay Bar in Orlando Florida a week earlier. I marched with my daughter’s Kids’ Zen Program along with other members  of the Portland Buddhist community. It felt good to celebrate the link between sexuality & spirituality.  Peaceful, colorful, full of music and humor, we enjoyed a taste of a world in which the erotic is acknowledged, dignified, embraced.  A world of Eros Power.

But I am just not sure that it comes down to women feeling horny - “just like men” as she explains. To believe, that I have to believe that Eros is solely about sexuality. I think it’s a failure of self-understanding. Eros gets trapped in this misunderstanding. Beauty is one of the vectors by which Eros arises, to include but move beyond sexual signaling. The erotic is a creative energy, if misunderstood as simply a mating signal, we will continue to have sexual assault and profound disconnect between women and men. See what you think…

“…So little recognition and attention are paid to the fact of men’s secret dread of women!” exclaimed psychoanalyst Karen Horney almost a hundred years ago. She’d be surprised that today we’ve become more, not less, covert about this dread. We say we are all so liberated now, Hillary is a presidential nominee now, Angela Merkel and Theresa May run Europe now! In truth - always more complex - it’s more that the masculine dreads the feminine.  Indeed men are pressed to become more masculine, don’t be feminine!; women too (in the professional arena, they must be feminine otherwise!)

Yet some issues need to be understood in ways that should cause shame, at first. How not to make it sound worse than it is? The recent outpouring in response to Donald Trump’s toddler-predator behavior is so strong — 27 million posts about sexual harassment in 24 hours, — speaks of pervasive and gross levels that rightly make women seriously pissed off. Although in my experience most women are not angry, we’re more disappointed, minimizing.  It’s men who are often a little defensive, veering toward self righteous and maybe angry themselves. This is why we need to talk together, women and men together. A few bad apples does spoil the lot. So how widespread is Donald Trump’s man-toddler-predator behavior? In the last few days alone I’ve learned it common on the the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca (pilgrimage!), it’s common in  our schools and on the street. I’ve known it personally since I was 10. Why have we all been so quiet for so long? Perhaps because if we drew attention to the pervasiveness and refused to accept it, global society would literally come to a grinding halt. Yet these big and small aggressions deplete women, worry us, cause us to be self protective, upset, insecure. It’s just a waste of human creativity, a crying shame. I’m told that still others appreciate the attention. I understand that too - but to admit that is to mix up flirtations and aggressions. It’s a very fine line that may be too difficult for many men to understand.  Objectivizing gaze is different from attentive regard.  But then are they even trying?!  We're all so confused now. As blogger Holly Wood points out: “presently we’ve got a sexual culture where women’s desires for love and intimacy are continually shat on … that renounces anything feminine, including love and intimacy,” and instead promises us pornography-infused sexual harassment and encounters.  (Patriarchy must be dead because now we get to have sex without even knowing each others name-no thank you!). Wouldn’t it be so lovely if men would take responsibility for what’s in women’s best interest?  Because I care a lot that women and men take this Eros Power journey together, it’s important to point to the many men (at our workshops!) who ARE stepping up. And I am learning how difficult it is to confront the shame involved in having had so much privilege.  But if we take this journey together men get to give up the shame and women the fear:  Imagine what we might accomplish then!

In turn I feel filled with, um, well, it’s more rage than I thought I still have. It’s rage and grief for  all the ways in which I, and women generally, have been cultivated for sacrifice, for not making demands, for being compliant. I call it putting on the Geisha face.  It’s so easy to do, you even look good doing it and everyone else (men) are so happy. Why ruin it for everyone?! Because I am not fed in my Geisha costume.  (Tidbit: working Geisha don’t eat or drink much on the job because the kimono they wear is almost impossible to go to the bathroom in!).  The Geisha is, herself, not fed in this ritualized gender drama. The Geisha cannot bring our creativity if we limit ourselves to delighting each others conventional needs (yes, indeed the Geisha gets paid, and very well). The waste of women’s creativity. Some might call the Geisha face an act of complicity for money.  I suppose that is true but only if there is awareness.  When its trained, or assumed there is no other choice. Complicity is simply conformity.  Women are given,  consumed. And they may even feel appreciated!  But Geisha herself is not fed. She has not found nor been given space in which to find her own deep well-spring of creativity. I am sad because I can hardly imagine a circumstance in which there is anything even close to a Geisha providing for my creativity/entertainment/enjoyment. We are told that is against the natural order. I say that is a failure of relational imagination.

Hilary, July 25th, 2016

A good friend wrote to me about ownership among men and women.  It came as a reflection on Eros/Power and he said I could share (we’re wanting to practice non-ownership!). He wrote:

Hilary, August 15th 2016

Calling more lesbians, enough with being prostitutes

Hilary July 18th 2016 

In our Eros/Power workshops we use the term “ stay woke” as inwoke to the history and the big picture issues that surround us with regard to relationships between women and men.  We say be woke, as in wake up, because we feel how important it is to recognize that women and men relate as a product of history and culture, not (always) by freely choosing.  We use the term because we think it is foolish if we pretend there is not a history that has taught us all, in our bones, that men are more important than women.  In reality we don’t believe many people actually believe this anymore. Yet sometimes the impact of this old teaching has a conscious, and more dangerously, an unconscious impact on how we relate. But just how guilty/defensive or angry/depressed are we to feel? In truth we can feel all of it on different days. The work of Eros/Power asks us to be in conversation with each other, rather than about each other. It’s not necessarily an easy dialogue, and it may be (and often is!) a delightful & liberating dialogue.  In all this we have much to learn from the issues of race, playing out all over and especially in the African American community in the USA.  This is where the term “woke” is most often heard. For example, I must be woke to my privilege as a white woman; I don’t get hassled by the police; I do not fear for my life or y child’s life as a Black woman has to. I was so deeply moved by actor, Jesse Williams’ recent award speech. That he also spoke also about women touched me all the more. He said, “the more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize. Now this is also in particular for the black women, in particular, who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you.” Watch the short speech, get mobilized in dialogue with not about. Stay woke!!062716-beta-jesse-williams-acceptance-speech-10

Hilary, September 5th, 2016

Men’s secret dread of women

I don’t wish to be seen as having a ‘vagenda.’ I’d hate even more to appear as a manocidal woman with a vagenda. (We credit these new contributions to the English lexicon to a Trump supporter who was accusing Hillary Clinton).  Goddess forbid I’d have a manocidal vagenda. Not only does it sound bad, but I do fear alienating good men when I simply want to draw attention to the bad apples in the masculine barrel, the predator (rapist, jerk) who causes a lot of damage to many women. My fear is not a need to be liked, that infamous and somewhat manipulative feminine need,  but rather a clear-eyed acknowledgement that women and men need each other. Where is creative partnership if I frighten the men off by shaming them (what would Allison Armstrong think?!). 

Really. I didn’t know this stuff. That small boys talk like this. Intelligent ones! Really! I guess I still find it hard to let it in. You see I went to an all girl’s school and we did not talk like this. We talked about the boys who played rugby. We felt flutters when we saw handsome media men.  We imagined being their girlfriend, possibly some monkey business, only vaguely imagined.  What we specifically didn’t talk about, not once, ever, was exploiting boys, raping them.  Is this another example of girls’ failure of imagination? No.

So what is our best transformative option here? I have it.  Yes, it’s radical, but it’s also obvious: Girls, women and especially older women, must cultivate our lesbian qualities.  It’s right here, we all have it, say  the experts. Women are  “polymorphously perverse” said the Victorian Freud, who didn’t mean it in as good a way. As he should have and perhaps today would have.  So that’s my idea: Cultivating our lesbianism as an embodied antidote to the prostitution of the feminine. To prostitute means “to exploit, to take something beautiful and corrupt it.” We need to respect (re-inspect) what is beautiful in me, in us, and value it. And take it entirely out of the world and work of ownership, domination, rapacious exploitation.  The value is huge, also to society which will feel the scarcity of women’s availability for conventional business.  Our value will go up accordingly.  And for actionability…start with metaphorical lesbianism if you must.  Me I won’t kiss and tell.

Hilary, October 20th, 2016

“I like how you talk about the ‘public space’ and who ‘owns it.’ [I wrote about women in New York City and their organized resistance to cat-calls and whistles when walking on the street]. That’s a useful concept. I’ve realized over time that men want ‘ownership’ of women’s beauty and sensitivity. I think men want that ownership of women far more than women want ‘ownership’ of men. I don’t especially know why men are inclined this way, aside from speculations that we often want to ‘own’ what we don’t have ourselves, or to own things that give us status as in ‘trophy wives’ etc… Anyway - you’ve already figured out that I’m agreeing that ‘ownership’ issues are at the heart of a lot, including how men treat women.”

No surprise that we see the trumpeting of uncaring behaviors, uncaring political policies and too few women leaders. The ignoramus Donald Trump has the startling approval of an overwhelming percentage of white uneducated American men. They unabashedly promote their egocentric interests against anyone who might take away their century’s old social power. A prized social power is not having to listen to a woman (a position supported by the Bible, sigh). Depth psychologist Peter Michaelson explains: “Human resistance to exposing deep self-doubt is exceedingly powerful. Man is afraid that woman might be his better self. His primitive instinct is to cover up this largely unconscious part in him by making women out to be the weaker sex and himself the proud agent of mighty exploits. Men are reluctant to share power with women or to encourage women’s empowerment to the degree that, on an inner level, we doubt our own value and power.”  In our work with Eros/Power we feel it’s necessary to include the insights of depth psychology. We call it a journey to integrate the shadow side, one that is needed if we are to be “woke” to the man/woman dance. If we are to evolve. Left as it is, “he” begrudges and denies “her” power. In a world that caters to male mind, “she” feels self doubt (and dread of actual violence). What better way to keep, rather than evolve, the old social contract. But there is no juice in that contract. Eros cannot rise in a “win-lose” battle. Without some difficult conversation about this with ourselves and one another, women and men remain in a Cold “war of the sexes.” While recognizing our unevolved  feelings may be unwelcome to the rational modern (educated) mind, we need each other to to move through this. Women and men together. We need conversations, in safe spaces, to evolve a creative, Eros infused partnership, beyond the dominate/submit stucknesses of our primitive minds. But first we must recognize how stuck we are in our development and get in touch with the creativity we yearn for.  Women will lead the way. It’s in our collective interests.  When women thrive in a society, society as a whole thrives.  Depth psychology matters:


Hilary, July 10th 2016

I am intrigued by the question posed by Emma Lindsay: “Why Do Women Wear Sexy Clothes If They Don’t Want Attention?” She writes…They do want attention, but if you need to ask, then they don’t want it from you. And continues: “I have spent a long time blaming myself for the harassment I’ve received, and every time that happens, I cut out another part of myself. I stop wearing things that I think I look good in so that I don’t accidentally turn people on. I stop flirting with people, I stop casually affectionate touch in case it is misread. I even stopped consciously recognizing my own sexual desire in case I accidentally communicated it to other people…