#IWasThatGuy

#IWasThatGuy – More times than I care to admit, in my long and tortured path of exploring my own sexuality. And I’m ashamed of it. And I’m terrified of admitting it in public. But nearly all the women I know are taking the courage to share in public their experiences of being on the receiving end of “that guy’s” inexcusable behavior (actually, dozens of “that guy’s” for each woman, reading the harrowing accounts that have been crossing my feed.) So guys, it’s time we develop the balls (or ball, in my case, ‘cuz I’ve only got one), step up and admit to and apologize for being that guy, however scary it is to do so, and whatever comes our way for doing it.

Here’s just one example, of many I could write about.

Recently, in a non-fiction piece I was working on, I wrote the sentence, “I’ve never pushed past a woman’s clearly-stated ‘No.'” I thought that was true when I wrote the sentence. I really did. But then, I thought, I better make really sure that’s true, before I publish it. I went year-by-year in my mind, and reviewed every hook-up, every attempted hook-up, in my past, and I realized I had to delete that sentence. Because it wasn’t true.

I was in my late 20s. A woman I knew from a party scene I was involved with had invited me over to her house for dinner. I was attracted to her. I thought it was mutual. I thought, because she had invited me over, I was sure this was going to go somewhere.

I leaned in for a kiss. She brushed me away and said “No.” We kept eating dinner, drinking, and talking, pleasantly. We danced some salsa. Thirty minutes or so later, I leaned in for a kiss again. She brushed me away and said “No” again. She was laughing. I was laughing. We were flirting. I was *sure* that was flirting on her part (and maybe it was.) We kept dancing.

So, I figured: this is just part of the game. Women play hard-to-get, right? Women are coy and demure, they hide their desires for fear of being seen as “easy.” Women play push-pull, they put up “token resistance.” She invited me over for dinner. Why else would she have done that, if she wasn’t interested? (It takes way too much for us men to realize that a woman actually isn’t interested. We are so terrified of being rejected, we try as hard as we can to convince ourselves otherwise….) I’m sure over the last half-hour of conversation and dancing and drinking, she saw what a great guy I am. I’m sure she changed her mind…

I leaned in again. Another “no,” and a gentle brush away. More laughs, more drinks, more dancing. It all seemed like “part of the process” of a night of seduction. Why would she still be dancing with me, laughing and joking, if this wasn’t going somewhere? (BTW, this is far far from an excuse, but I was heavily into PUA at that time, and all PUA teaching was saying that women played hard to get, hid their desires and their “no”. In fact, there was a term for it, which I now see was a disgusting, shameful term, which any guy who was ever involved in PUA will recognize, and I hope will wince at, as I now do. PUAs talked about a woman’s ASD, or “anti-slut-defense”–the resistance she puts up right before a hook-up, supposedly to prove to herself and you that she’s not a slut. PUA taught all kinds of ways to get past this “ASD,” most of which amount to either playing games and mindfucking her, or to just keep trying more and more seduction moves, and don’t take no for an answer, until she pushes you away hard, that’s the time to stop. Which is why almost all PUA training needs to be ditched, ASAP.)

I made these passes 4 or 5 times, and she brushed them all away and said “Not tonight.” Eventually, we mutually decided the night was over, and I left.

I didn’t think anything of it for a few weeks. My passes hadn’t been particularly aggressive, I thought. I had backed down for a while each time she brushed me away. I thought I was doing the right thing, just by backing down–and then seeing if she was interested a little later. I was just making my interest known, I thought, and probing the waters to see if maybe she had changed her mind.

A few weeks later, I realized, none of this rationalizing mattered. Even if *I* thought this was just me engaging in the usual mating dance of the guy making passes and the woman being demure… even if *I* knew that I wouldn’t have pushed harder if she had told me to fuck off and get the fuck out (which I do think is actually the case)… even if *I* thought I wasn’t dangerous, that I wouldn’t actually rape her or anything…

None of that fucking mattered. What I didn’t think about was how *she* felt about it. She didn’t know me that well. She didn’t actually know I didn’t intend push any harder than those passes. She could have been terrified, and hiding it, and playing nice to mollify me (that is a theme I’ve seen a lot in women’s #MeToo posts.) All of this was occurring in a context (I now see, from all the MeToo posts) where this shit had probably been happening to her since she was a girl.

I called her up a few weeks after the night, apologized, took 100% accountability for what a dick I had been, and how wrong my behavior was. She seemed glad to hear this. She said she had found my behavior seriously annoying, and she said she accepted my apology. She seemed to take it in stride.

But now I see, from all the posts in the last few days, that her seeming to “take it in stride” could also have been because she just didn’t expect any better of men, that she just accepted this kind of shitty inexcusable behavior from men as part of the background noise of being a woman in a patriarchal society.

We moved on. I completely forgot about this incident, until I did my own moral inventory recently, in the wake of all the abuse of other men that is coming into light.

I feel ashamed of this behavior. And there are plenty more skeletons in my closet I feel ashamed about. I did most of my bad behavior during a period after my divorce when I was doing a shit-ton of drugs and I was way out of control, when I was having (seemingly enthusiastic) sex with people when both of us were way too fucked up to be making responsible sexual decisions. I’ve gone back, talked to people, listened a lot, gotten clear on where I went wrong, tried as best I can to clean up my own shit and own it, make amends, made a lot of apologies, educated myself. And I’ve massively upleveled my own standards and practices around consent (as much of our culture is engaged in doing now, thankfully.)

If I’ve ever been “that guy” to you, and you’re willing to share that with me, please contact me. I will listen. I will make amends. I will not be defensive, and I will own my shit with no hedging. Or, if you don’t feel comfortable contacting me directly, please consider contacting me through a mutual friend.

Guys, I know it’s terrifying to look at ourselves in the mirror. I know it’s terrifying to admit this this stuff to ourselves, and to others, even in private. And I know it’s even more terrifying to admit it publicly.

But the outpouring of accounts from the courageous women that have been all over our FB feeds over the past few days, are proving to us all that it’s not just a few “bad apples” who are perpetrating and perpetuating these violations, transgressions, and harms. It’s not just “the other guys”. There are way too many harms and violations being described than could be accounted for by just a few “bad guys.”

It’s all of us men, in one way or another. All of us have skeletons in our closets. I sure as hell do. I hope this post goes some way to encouraging more men to start talking about our past sins, to start taking accountability for all the ways we’ve harmed women, knowingly and unknowingly, directly and indirectly, to listen to the stories of women without defensiveness, to feel our shame fully and be with it rather than trying to hide it from ourselves, to try to forgive ourselves, to apologize to and ask for forgiveness from the women we’ve harmed, to see the part we’ve played in the whole patriarchal system in which these violations and this violence is so prevalent, to commit to doing better–much, much better–starting immediately, and to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

One more thing. It’s so easy for us men to want approval from women for “doing the right thing” now, for “being the good guy” and “manning up” and owning our shit. But I was not the good guy in this story. You were probably not the good guy in some of your own stories from the past.

I can imagine some women reading these posts from men, and seeing all the kudos and the appreciation, and the “you’re so courageous”s, and being really disgusted. I’m not going to tell people how they should respond to this post, or others like it, but I will say I don’t feel proud of how I behaved–in fact, I feel disgusted–and I don’t think I deserve any credit or kudos in this story.

Guys, we should be meeting women’s courage with by tackling fears of our own, about looking ourselves in the mirror, about talking to men and women about our past transgressions, and about owning up to all the stuff women are calling us out on, publicly. Consider posting your own version of #IWasThatGuy or #ItWasMe. Women have taken extraordinary steps in the past few days, steps that just may change our entire culture (thank you all women who have shared your stories, taking the risk and courage to educate us.) Men, they are waiting to hear from us.

Douche Reform School*, Lesson 1: When She Says She Wants to Be “Just Friends”

Scenario:

You’ve brought a woman back to your place a after a date or a social gathering. You lean in for a kiss. She turns her head to the side, pulls back, and says, “Let’s just be friends.”

Douche moves:

  1. Assume it’s “token resistance,” that she really does want to hook up with you and she’s “playing hard to get,” and “she’s just saying that” (so as not to seem “easy” or “slutty.”
    1. Say, “No problem, I totally get it.” Wait five minutes. Then move in for another kiss.
    2. If she brushes you away again, and/or says, “I’m really not feeling that way about you,” wait another five minutes. Then move in again, and again, in five-minute intervals, until she has pushes you away, and asks you to leave.
  2. Try to convince her otherwise. Ask her a bunch of questions like, “Why aren’t you into me?” “What do the other guys have that I don’t have.” “What’s so wrong with me?” These are especially effective for the purposes of doucheness if said in a mopey, sorry-for-yourself tone.
  3. Lie (to her, to yourself, or both) and say, “OK, that’s cool, we can just be friends,” as if you actually wanted that. But then immediately let any enthusiasm you had about her vanish, fade away and stop returning her calls or calling her, and let the “friendship” die on the vine. Extra douche points if you’re super awkward and evasive when you see her or talk to her.
  4. Act/feel like she’s done something wrong and unfair to you, and blame her for your hurt. “You’ve been flirting with me all night. . .” “You’ve been giving me mixed signals for months. . .” “You led me on.” These might even be true to some degree (though you should be aware that science has proven guys are way overly-optimistic about even minor supposed “signals.” But even if these statements are true to some degree, it doesn’t mean she that just because she flirted or gave you any signals, she is obliged to take it further.) Worse: “You’re such a tease.”
  5. Say, in an upset, accusatory tone, “Fine, I should just go then,” and storm out. (This is especially douchey if it wasn’t a date or some other clear romantic context to begin with.)
  6. Worse, get angry at her. Reject her back, as if you were the one who rejected her first. As you storm out and slam the door, say “You’re not that hot anyways.”

Smart Moves:

  1. Assume she really means what she’s saying.
  2. Pull back and tell her you need a moment to think. In that moment, think about what kind of relationship you actually want with her, assuming she means what she says and she doesn’t want to be romantic or sexual with you. Be honest with yourself. Really honest.
  3. Once you’ve figured out what you want with her, as per (2), be honest with her, in a kind, respectful, non-insulting way.
    1. If you would actually like to be friends with her, say “I’d be honored to be your friend,” and continue hanging out, without trying to put the moves on her again.
      1. If, in the course of the same night, or in the course of your ongoing friendship, she starts putting the moves on you, stop her for a moment and ask for a clarification. “Hey, I thought you wanted to be ‘just friends.’ Has something changed for you?” If she says ‘yes,’ then it’s up to you what direction you’d like to take the connection. You can respond to her advances, or maybe you now want to keep it “just friends.” Adding romance and sex into a relationship changes it drastically, and if you’ve now built up a friendship, don’t assume that, just because you’re a guy, you’ll always want to convert friends into sex partners if given the opportunity; it’s not, actually, always the best move.
    2. If you would not like to be “just friends” with her, that’s OK too, but be honest with her about it, in a kind way. Say, “I’m really attracted to you, and if you’re not feeling the same way about me, I’d rather not continue, because it’s going to be really hard for me. I hope you understand.” (Note: Do NOT use this as leverage; you are informing her of where you’re at, not trying to use the act of turning down a friendship as bargaining chip to get her to change her mind.) She won’t be happy to hear this, but it’s much better than pretending to want a friendship just to hang out with her more, in order to put more unwanted moves on her later.

 

Ultra-Smart Move:

If you’re attracted to a woman, only spend time with her, and/or go on dates with her, if you’d actually like a friendship with her, whether she’s attracted to you back or not. This way, if she doesn’t want to hook-up for you, you still get a great friendship out of the situation—in fact, maybe you get a close sister for life. That way, it’s a win for both of you whether she’s attracted to you or not.

 

Conclusion:

If you follow the Smart Moves, and the Ultra-Smart Move, you will instantly find your relationships with women improving. You will feel less awkward with women, you can be honest with them about your attraction, without pressure (or needing to hide it, unconvincingly.) And you will ultimately end-up with more hook-ups (because your sexual energy is more clean, clear and contained), and more friendships. And less awkwardness and upset in all directions.      

Stay tuned for Lesson 2: When You’re Attracted to a Co-Worker

(*We teach what we have needed to learn. In taking my own moral inventory, I’ve unfortunately done Douche Moves 1-3 in the past.)

Guys: How Not to Be a Douche When Commenting on Threads About Feminism/Women’s Issues/Men’s Transgressions

Guys… we need to get something. Most of the time, when we comment on threads on Facebook and elsewhere about feminism, “women’s/trans/queer issues” (which should be EVERYONE’s issues), and/or men’s transgressions, we completely fuck it up. Then we get called “douches.” Then we get defensive, angry, and menacing for being called douches, and/or we get mopey and sad. Then we commit all the douchey things women are asking us not to do again in response, digging ourselves deeper. Then the dialogue (or more commonly, debate or flame war) ends when everyone involves gets too sick of continuing it. Then everyone leaves the encounter feeling even more shitty and like nothing was resolved.

Guys, we need to do better, and we can do better. Which is why I’m writing this post. To help us, at the very least, be less douchey starting right now, and ideally, not douchey at all and even constructive and supportive, if/when we choose to participate in the online dialogues and threads that are (understandably) becoming both more frequent, and more heated, now that we have a narcissistic, openly misogynist, paleo-patriarchal asshole in the White House

(Douchey being defined as, some combination of: arrogant, defensive, entitled, ignorant, willfully ignorant, tone-deaf, explicitly or implicitly sexist or misogynist, disrespectful, and/or condescending.)

The first thing I should say in this article is that anything I know about this topic at all, I learned, unfortunately, by violating each one of the points below at different times. Then hearing very pointed and sometimes rageful feedback from women on comment boards when I violated them, then doing the typical thing of getting defensive with them, digging myself in deeper, and then finally realizing that these women were right, and were in fact taking time and emotional labor to educate me despite their upset, and then thanking and feeling grateful to them.

Specifically, several years ago, I wrote something about sex workers in the BDSM world that was intended to fit into my “brand” as an “edgy, wild, taboo-breaking writer,” but looking back, was astonishingly insensitive, and got (appropriately) attacked quite harshly. Worse, I then continued to do most of the things below (the standard playbook for guys when they feel attacked and judged), digging myself deeper into doucheland. I am very grateful to the women who volunteered their emotional labor (including what must be the frustratingly familiar emotional labor of being angry at a douche and then having him be defensive), and for patiently educating me, even through your anger and frustration. The whole process taught me to spot these things in myself and others, and (to the best of my current ability) not do them anymore.

The one thing I consistently hear women say, when men ask something along the lines of “What can I do to support you feeling more safe and respected in the world?” is something like, “Educate yourself, then educate your fellow men–because we’re sick of doing this emotional labor ourselves.” (Emotional labor will be a topic described below.)

So, this post is in that spirit. I’m by no means perfect in these regards still, or in others ways I have treated women, but I can say I’m educating myself, and I feel I’m at a point where I’m ready to do some of the emotional labor myself of talking to my fellow men about these issues, so that (I hope) some women have to do less of it.

This post is addressed to “guys” like me–you know, hetero dudes, cisgendered (another term dudes need to learn), probably white. Since I travel between the entrepreneurial worlds, the counterculture worlds, and the personal growth/spiritual “woo woo” worlds, it is primarily addressed to guys in those worlds–tech bros, groovy Burner dudes like me, and/or sensitive new age guys (SNAGS) like me who “honor the goddess” and “worship the divine feminine” and so forth. But all of this can apply to any guys.

[For those who are not “guys” reading this, I welcome any further points or clarifications you wish to contribute, if you care to do that emotional labor. But part of why I’m writing this is so that you don’t have to. I’d also like to take it upon myself to do the emotional labor of handling and educating the guys who will inevitably be triggered by this post–something I’ve repeatedly heard women say they wished men would do, rather than leaving it to women.]

I have tried as best I can to write what follows in language that I think most guys in the circles I run in can understand, without sacrificing (too much) fidelity to the way these topics are discussed by women in more explicitly feminist spaces, which is often much more nuanced and detailed than what I’m writing below. I’m sure not everyone will be totally satisfied with what’s below, and I welcome feedback, but I hope it is a solid start. (I should also add that I am not attempting to speak for women or anyone else. I am creating my own syntheis and expression, aimed towards men, of what I have learned from women.)

We guys need to get that the dialogue around these issues online has evolved a LOT over the last say 10 years, since the spread of social media, and the baseline of what is required of men to participate in dialogues online about these issues, has gone way up. It’s like entering college as a freshman, as opposed to entering high school as a freshman–we’re just expected to know more at this point. If you enter online dialogues with women about issues they feel passionate and upset about (and that I hope you feel passionate and upset about too), without demonstrating a basic-level understanding and awareness of these concepts below, you will be called a douche, and asked to STFU and leave. If you stay and persist in your doucheness, the anger coming your way will only grow stronger, and the chorus louder.

You really don’t need to have a graduate level understanding of these topics, not even a college senior level. How about a college sophomore level? That’s not too much to ask. This is roughly what women are expecting of us now (in the blue-state world, which is what I’m addressing–this stuff is way outside the purview of Trumpland- and if you’re a Trump supporter or sound like one, I will delete your comments and block you. Go fuck yourself, I have no interest in talking to you. This is a “safe space” from Trump supporters.) And if we haven’t learned these things, internalized them, and developed an intuitive ability to spot them in ourselves and others, we will be asked to return to high school, or even more likely, the kindergarten playground. That’s the level many of us are on. We need to do better.

(I should also say that almost ALL of these concepts apply, with some adjustment, to when white people start entering into dialogues about race, straight people talk about queer issues, cisgendered people talk about trans issue, or anytime a privileged person enters into a dialogue around issues pertaining to that privilege or to any marginalized/oppressed group. I should also presence that, while I believe I’ve come to a solid and intuitive understanding of these issues around gender, sexuality, and queerness, and a moderate–though not yet good enough–understanding of trans issues, I am still woefully under-educated and I think to a large degree still in denial around race and white privilege, and class privilege, something that needs to change within me as well ASAP.)

OK, enough preamble. Here are what I take to be the basic concepts we guys need to understand if we choose to participate in online dialogues about feminism/”women’s issues,” “queer issues,” and men’s transgressions as they occur in the news or within our communities.

1. Safe Spaces

We guys wince at this term. It feels to us like all the things we judge and stereotype women about: over-sensitivity, “man-bashing,” “reverse discrimination” etc. The politics of safe spaces may seem to us like it is going to ridiculous, absurd, Orwellian extremes online and in college campuses, and maybe, in some cases, it is.

But here’s the thing we guys need to get. It’s the most basic thing we need to get. Women are not feeling safe around us right now. There’s a president in power who has openly boasted about sexual assault. The most extreme forms of misogyny, queer-bashing, personal threats, harassment and stalking, disrespect, and misogynistic trolling are commonplace for all women online, and even more if they are outspoken on these or other political issues, or if they are sharing anything about their sexuality online. Women and queer and trans people still generally don’t feel safe walking around in their own cities and neighborhoods. They are still subject to daily violations of their space which feel menacing and insulting at best, or downright dangerous and violent at worst. In many quarters, we men are regressing in our awareness of these issues, and digging into defensiveness, righteousness and entitlement. A very strong backlash against the many gains and advance women and queer and trans people have won over the last several decades is forming among men, even “liberal” men.

So, can you get why women and queerfolk and trans people would want forums online (and offline) where they are not subject to these dynamics? Where they can discuss these issues and support each other, without feeling attacked, mansplained to, condescended to, belittled, disbelieved, and without having to do the emotional labor of catering to men’s emotional needs or assuaging our defense mechanisms (something they already likely have to do in their workplace and/or at home?)

You probably don’t realize just how hostile a place the online world is for women. Go look at Reddit’s Red Pill forum – which is one of the main gathering places for the misogyny wing of the alt-right. (Link in the comments- content warning: extreme and copiously detailed levels of open misogyny and bile.) There is nothing remotely comparable to this online towards men. There are a few queer/lesbian sites that advocate female separatism. There are many feminist/queer/trans spaces that want nothing to do with “cishet” men (that’s a term we cishet men need to learn and stop being so defensive about–do some googling.) There some “Male Tears” mugs for sale online. Men do not typically fare well in family courts, and white cishet men are starting to be less popular and dominant on college campuses. Men feel that there is a “trail by Internet” dynamic happening towards us around consent violations and accusations–a counterbalance to the utter humiliation and lack of justice victims have received in the legal system. But just nothing so bilious, menacing, threatening, and in-your face as what women face online and offline every day. Nothing.

If women and queer or trans people don’t want even a *molecule* of that bile in their online (and offline) reality (and they don’t), just understand and respect that. It’s really not that complicated. They want to feel safe, respected, and understood, and they want a space where they don’t feel repeatedly triggered by the same patterns from cishet men again and again, and if we can’t contribute to them having that space, then we need to leave the space.
Contribute to being a part of the solution around online misogyny, hate and disrespect, not the problem, and contribute towards the Internet (and of course the offline world) being a more welcoming, positive, affirming, and yes, safe, space for women and queer and trans people. Call out (or “call in,” another topic) men you see exhibiting misogyny, sexism, insensitivity or stupidity along the lines described in this article. Learning about all these topics is a good start. Do a lot of googling on these topics. Talk to women and queerfolk who are willing to talk with you about these topics.

2. Male fragility/male tears

Again, this seems incredibly unfair to us. There’s not a single guy out there who hasn’t been at times extremely exasperated by what we perceive to be the emotional fragility of women. We have also been repeatedly bashed, ridiculed, and shamed and had our masculinity questioned (in our childhood socialization and beyond, and including from men and women) for having feelings, or being emotionally sensitive as men–as evidence of being “wussy,” “pussy,” “gay,” “faggot,” “not masculine,” “girly,” etc. So to have our feelings around things these things further mocked, disregarded, and ridiculed, seems incredibly unfair.

But here’s the thing we need to get. Women are and feel oppressed by us as a group of people. Yes, we at times feel oppressed by them too (in relationships, dating, and some arenas like child custody, etc.) But there is a structural difference and power imbalance that is not even remotely comparable. They really don’t give a shit how it feels for us to lose some of the power and privilege our gender has enjoyed for so many thousands of years, as these vast structural imbalanced come into more balance. They really don’t. Their feelings about male transgressions and dominance and rule have been disrespected, discounted, silenced, and suppressed for thousands of years. They don’t care how we feel about their true opinions, now that they have a voice to share those opinions within social media, and without male or patriarchal gatekeepers.

I’m not going to say “suck it up and deal”–that is the same kind of shaming that we men have gotten about our own emotionality within patriarchy as well (patriarchy being, among other things, a system that devalues all traits within everyone that are perceived as feminine, with emotions and somatic/body reactions–as opposed to reason and logic, which are perceived as masculine–being the at the top of the list.)

But I am going to say, if you’re feeling hurt by how women feel towards you, individually or as a man in general, or having a difficult time, talk to your fellow men about it. Vent if you have to, offline, feel seen and heard. Maybe even by a few close women who are willing to do the emotional labor of supporting you through this process. But don’t expect strangers online to be sympathetic to how you feel about having some of the same shit we men have been heaping on women for thousands of years, heaped back on us. Return to the dialogue if/when you can do so in a calm, non-defensive, non-triggered state, ready to see how you personally, and/or men in general, have played into the power dynamics women are critiquing and complaining about.

This doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything. It doesn’t mean you have to swallow all of the feminist “party line” (by the way, hint–there is no “party line”–feminism is not a single thing but an incredibly diverse field of views and stances, many of which conflict with each other. That doesn’t mean it’s “hypocritical.” It means that women and feminists are–gasp!–human, and they disagree with each other about things, just as all humans do.)

But it does mean you will have to demonstrate a LOT (and I mean a LOT) of listening, and evidence that you have actually considered and internalized at least some of these concepts, before talking and expressing your own views. I do not believe women want men to simply be parrots to their own views. I believe women want us to bring our critical faculties and our own reason and experiences and insight towards moving past patriarchy, to be “our own man.” But, in taking pride in not just submissively parroting the views of others or any “party line,” and being an “independent thinker,” not beholden to political correctness, be sure you are not just in return parroting the same recycled tropes and argument-fragments and memes that men have been using for millennia to avoid looking at ourselves in the mirrors.

3. Emotional Labor

I’ve used this term several times before, so let me be more clear about what it means. It means, spending time/energy/frustration, etc., usually unpaid, usually by women or other people with less privilege, to handle and manage the emotions of others.

There is a much wider discussion online of women’s emotional labor in the workplace, at home, etc. (do some googling) but the specific way it plays out in online forums is that women need to do emotional labor to defend against the attacks and bile men throw at them online, particularly when talking about feminist-related issues, and pierce the defensiveness men exhibit. Many women have (as activists) taken it upon themselves to expend the emotional labor necessary to educate us men from a playground-level understanding of these issues where most of us are, to at least a college freshman level, and better yet, a college senior level. (I know I wrote a book bashing higher education, but I’m using these “grade levels” as metaphors.)

Women are sick of doing this emotional labor. It is slow and painful slogging for most of them who choose to spend their energy educating men (including for those who, I’m grateful, chose to spend their energy educating me.) Because of patriarchy, we men don’t really listen to women, not nearly enough. So this is a message to men better delivered to men by fellow men (because it provokes less defensiveness, and because we can talk guy talk, “man-to-man.”)

That means WE men need to do the emotional labor to unlearn patriarchy and contribute to post-patriarchy. There are many visions of what post-patriarchy might look like. Educate yourself, choose one of them, and (preferably under the guidance of a woman mentor in these issues) start working towards the transition. The best way you can be supportive of this transition is educating yourself, making the appropriate and necessary changes in your own life, with guidance and feedback from women and queerfolk who are willing to give it to you, and then taking the load off women in educating your fellow men. (Notice also if you are congratulating yourself for doing so, feeling your ego puffed up, seeking kudos for doing so, or to look good or sexy or seductive to women for doing so–another topic to be discussed soon.)

4. Mansplaining vs. listening.

If you notice yourself trying to explain some point of disagreement you feel really passionate about online to a woman, especially with lots of garnered facts and arguments and a sense that you’re being the “rational” or “logical” (vs. emotional) one in the dialogue, just stop. Women have been getting this shit from men for thousands of years.

Instead, listen, Listen. Listen more. Respect women’s experience and feelings about the topics. See if you can understand why they feel the way they do, and why they hold the position they hold, rather than dismissing their feelings and views.
Then, and only then, is it a good idea to venture into adding your own perspective on these topics. Notice if adding your perspective is leading to more of a sense of constructive dialogue, bridging communities, and creating alliances, or contributing to more online bile, divisiveness, and bitterness. If the latter, stop again, and listen more. Or if you have to, just leave. Mansplaining is NOT welcome anymore in spaces where women are sharing their opinions, feelings, and experiences.

Instead, let’s start reverse mansplaining–i.e., educating ourselves about these issues, and mansplaining them to our fellow men.

5. “Reverse sexism,” “both sides of the issue,” etc.

Human beings judge each other. Human beings identify in groups, and put the in-group ahead of the out-group, and develop entire ideologies or self-justifications around why the in-group deserves more attention, benefits, resources, rights than the outgroup. Human beings mistrust people in the “other” group. Human beings are incredibly prone to engaging in prejudice, stereotyping, discrimination, and out-group bashing and mistrust, along all kinds of lines.

Every human does this. There is no escaping it.

And, in the basic outlines, a lot of the judging/putting down/misunderstanding/fear/exclusion/insult feels the same, no matter what direction it’s going in. Most people find it very hurtful and triggering when they are judged. Many of the psychological features of in-group/out-group dynamics look and feel the same, no matter who the in-group/out-group is or in what direction.

All that said, some groups have MUCH more power than others. Some groups have much more power, resources, and historical precedent to cause harm than others based on their ingroup/outgroup judgments, insults, threats, beliefs, and resources.

To ignore these power imbalances, when talking about the judgements and exclusions and finger-pointing and insulting and disrespect that inevitably flies between different groups that feel threatened or hostile towards each other, is to perpetuate the power imbalances. I know very well that every side believes the power imbalance is skewed against them. And still, I stand firm in my awareness that the imbalances in regard to gender issues (not in every single specific arena, but overall) are massively in favor of men, and masculinity. That just seems unquestionable to me, and I’m not particularly interested in debating people who think otherwise, I think that belief is the starting point for the kind of work towards post-patriarchy I’m describing.

Women have been dealing with men’s judgments, prejudices, insults, misunderstandings, exclusions, and aggression towards women as an out group of patriarchy, for millennia. Do not be surprised when judgments, prejudices, misunderstandings, exclusions and aggression, insults, and anger come right back. Until women have MUCH more power in society than they do now, those judgments/prejucides/acts of disrespect or exclusion have incomparably less power to harm us, then when it’s going from us to them. That’s just a basic reality.

It hurts when people judge us, insult us, act aggressively or angry to us, show unwillingness to see our side, or impatience or contempt for our efforts to explain or defend our positions. Do the emotional labor of dealing with this hurt yourself, and with your fellow men first, and maybe with your female friends (you do have many female friends, I hope?). But don’t expect women you don’t know on the Internet to nurse and cater to your hurt, or to extend deep and compassionate listening, especially before you do so to them. They’re nursing and supporting each other through far too much of their own hurt from us not listening to them for too long.

***
Guys, this is work we need to do. It’s work we need to do, whether we like it or not, and whether it benefits us or not, because it’s the right thing.

That said, it’s also work we need to do for ourselves, because I sincerely believe moving beyond patriarchy will make everyone’s lives better, including our own. So there is both self-interest in making these changes, and moral interest. It’s time for us to get to work. For real.

In forthcoming posts, I will add to this list with discussions of further terms/concepts/realities we need to acquaint ourselves with and educate ourselves about, rapidly. Again, my discussion is intended as education for guys, not meant to be mansplaining towards women. We guys need to become familiar with the topics/concepts of: trigger and trigger warnings; “You’re not allowed to say that”; tone-deafness; “not all men”; women’s rage and tone-policing; spiritual bypassing; victim-blaming; “the perfect victim”; abuse; rape and rape culture; consent and affirmative consent; expecting cookies and kudos for doing basic self-education; macktivism (i.e., trying to use knowledge of these issues for seductive/attractive power); privilege; intersectionality (that’s more of a “graduate” level topic–but that’s the level the current online dialogue is among liberal women, queer, trans, and people of color, while we white liberal cishet men remain at elementary school level); prounouns and newly-labeled gender identities; feminism; and the history of patriarchy and the move towards post-patriarchy.

I’m by no means an expert in all or most of these topics, and–as all men have–I have violated many of them. But I am learning actively, and I do hope, my fellow men, that this post will be a spur to you learning as well.

In further posts I will also add resources for further education (and I welcome you posting your own you’ve found, in the comments section). For now, I will leave one resource I think every man needs to read immediately. It is written by a fellow man, and it is extremely hard-hitting. In my opinion, this book sets an extremely high bar and serves powerful guide how men need to learn about and respond to misogyny. And that book is titled, appropriately, “A Brief History of Misosgyny: The World’s Oldest Prejudice” by Jack Holland (link in the comments section.) Download it on Kindle, put it on your Audible, right away. It’s not fun reading, but we men need to do a lot of not-fun reading ASAP.

Love,
Michael

Our Witchy Little Matriarchy

“Our Witchy Little Matriarchy: The Goddesspell of Adey Bell” – the new web series I’m creating. This episode is entitled “Moon Blood,” and it’s very… um… witchy. In the episode, we cover earth magic based on menstrual cycles, the suppressed role of Mary Magdalene in the Jesus myth, the proper role of men in a matriarchy, and you also get to see a smoking-hot rendition of Adey’s song “Power,” live at Orcas Center, WA, 8/26/17.

This web series is a fan’s backstage perspective, replete with plenty of concert footage I’ve filmed over the years, documenting the journey of a masterful musician, and infinitely colorful character, who is gearing up for 2018 to be her breakout year.

Speaking of which, today I’m also stepping into my role as concert producer/organizer. “Our Witchy Little Matriarchy” the web series is leading up to a Bay Area music & dance festival I’m organizing of the same name, for Valentine’s 2018, which will launch Silver Wheel, Adey’s first studio album, out into the world…

Witchy Little Matriarchy:

A Music & Dance Festival
in Celebration of Adey Bell’s
Album Launch

Weekend Before Valentine’s Day, 2018
Bay Area, CA

Festival ticket sales will be raising funds to complete the current pro mixing of Silver Wheel, timed for its world-premiere release during the festival.

To indicate your interest in the festival, and receive access to early-bird tickets, join the interest list here.

6 Annoying Cliches of “Conscious Sexuality” and How to Move Past Them

Here is my second in a series of audio interviews with Michaela Boehm, one of the most subtle, advanced and wise teachers about sexuality, spirituality, and the intersection of the two, currently teaching.

Today’s interview gets controversial- it is entitled “6 Annoying Cliches About ‘Conscious Sexuality,’ and How to Move Past Them”

In this interview, we analyze several ideas about “masculine” and “feminine” that have become dogma within teaching about conscious sexuality.

Specifically, we examine the cliches that men are supposed to be “present, deep, and on purpose” in order to be masculine, whereas women are supposed to be a “wild storm of emotions, radiant, and surrendered” in order to be feminine.

These concepts have become so ingrained in the west coast workshop and personal development culture that we rarely step back to examine where the concepts might be leading us astray.

We discuss where these ideas came from, how they are misunderstood and misapplied, and ways to think about these concepts that don’t lock people into rigid pre-defined gender roles.

In this interview (linked from the comments section), Michaela teaches us about:

5:00 – The folly of trying to teach men to become “deep and present” by teaching them to copy the body language of deep and present men, or trying to “look spiritual”
8:20 – How men can actually develop authentic, deeply-sourced presence
12:30 – The difference between emotional reactivity vs. emotional responsiveness in women
14:25 – The danger of encouraging women to show men their “kali” (destructive energy) without discernment
17:58 – How encouraging men to “penetrate” women with their “presence” can end up being a spiritualized form of invasiveness – and the danger of assuming that if a woman doesn’t “surrender” to these, that she’s “too much in her masculine”
22:00 – Why gender polarity should primarily be played out in the bedroom, and not in the rest of a relationship
34:20 – “Often the most dressed up and shiny women are not the ones who are most sensually alive”
46:01 – The problem with differentiating between “purpose” and “surrender” – because living your purpose requires surrender
46:45 – “You can only fuck well when you’re being fucked well.”
48:40 – “Beware of those whose purpose is telling you to find yours”
51:13 – The difference between purpose and goal-setting- and the folly of trying to set goals and “be accountable” for achieving your purpose
52:15 – Should we use non-gendered terms to express polarities and erotic tension? “Go vs. flow,” “Dark vs. light,” “Active vs. passive,” “Penetrating and penetrated,” “Dom vs. sub” – beyond “masculine vs. feminine”
54:36 – What is the essence of tantra?
1:01:30 – Surrender, boundaries, control, consent, and the feminine
1:11:58 – The importance of pushing sexual edges only with established partners
1:18:50 – How cultural romance narratives around “ravishing,” “being taken” and “surrender” can lead to people to disconnect from and mis-calibrate the sexual interaction and can lead to consent violations
1:22:48 – How do we reconcile our notions of romantic ravishment and “sweeping her off her feet” we see in the movies, with proper consent conversations which seem like they may take away from the spontaneity and passion?

Enjoy! I hope you find this interview as illuminating and provocative as I did.

What Do Women Want Men to Know in the Age of Trump?

I’ve been given the opportunity to write regularly for a very large audience of men, mostly “guy’s guys” who are involved in self-development. I’ve been invited to introduce these men to new perspectives, particularly regarding sexuality and relationships.

I want to use this platform I’ve been given to help these men into greater empathy for women’s realities in the age of Trump. In talking with my female friends, since the election, I am struck by how much their personal reality has changed almost overnight. Going from a sense that “things are generally getting better” (if not quickly enough) to “things are getting much, much worse, very quickly.” They are feeling personal grief, despair, fear, outrage, a sense of being embattled and disrespected, and lower day-to-day safety–on not just a political level but a very personal level. I want men to get that.

(I’m mostly about women and men on the blue, anti-Trump side. I lack any understanding of the gender politics within the red, pro-Trump side, and that would be a totally different article with different research.)

So, for those women reading this, I would like to invite you to share about any of these (either in the comments, or via PM…)

  • What do you want men to *get* about what you’re feeling and/or experiencing since Trump got in? What are men in blue America still *not* getting?
  • What are some personal experiences you’ve had, in public, private, or online, since the election, that make you feel like things are radically different now?
  • What coping mechanisms are you using?
  • What political action do you most want to see men taking?
  • How can men step up, serve and support, help you feel more safe, heard and seen?
  • What gives you the most hope in these times, if anything?
  • If you date men, has anything changed for you about your dating/sexuality/relationships with men since Trump got in? If so, what do you want (hetero) men to get about these shifts?
  • Anything else you want men to know or get?
  • What do you most want to know about men in these times?

Thank you for your support on this article.

No matter what you write, I won’t quote you for the article without asking you first–and at that time you can also let me know if you’d rather be identified by your full name, your first name, or use a pseudonym.

My Toast at My Ex-Wife Jena’s Wedding

Last week, I had the pleasure of giving a toast at the beautiful wedding of my ex-wife (and current soul-sister) Jena la Flamme and her new beloved Sacha Nielsen (officiated by my mother, and Jena’s “mother-in-love,” Patricia Ellsberg!)

Here’s what I said:

Jena, your happiness was, and still is, one of the most important things in my life.

And so, Sacha, I’m grateful to you for bringing so much happiness into Jena’s life. She’s happier than I’ve ever seen her, and that means the world to me.

Jena, our deepest vow was always to support each other in joy and flourishing. And we have remained true to that vow, even as our relationship has changed. Our journey together–both the joyful parts and the difficult parts–forged me into the man I am today. I will always be grateful to you for that. And I’m proud to have supported you in flourishing into the woman ready to dive into the love of your life, with Sacha.

I know that you want to have children together–and as the soul-brother to *both* of you now, I can’t wait to be the *soul-uncle* to your future children.

Long live Jena and Sacha!

My Interview with Peter Thiel on Self-Investment

In 2013, in the process of writing The Last Safe Investment, I got a chance to interview Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and first outside investor in Facebook, on the topic of investing in yourself.

This audio, now posted on my Soundcloud, has never been available before.

The text is available exclusively on SteemIt.

Here are some topics we covered:

–> The value of investing in relationships for the long-haul
–> Investing in your health and longevity as a way to increase your lifetime earnings
–> Why longer life expectancies should change the way you think about investing
–> The shockingly low rate of personal savings and investment in the US
–> My favorite part of the interview: whether we can reasonably expect the US markets to keep going up at their long-term average 7% per year after inflation, or whether that was a unique period of US expansion which won’t be repeated again.
–> The over-financialization of personal investing
–> How subjective types of value that are hard to measure, like relationships, health, and well-being, are priced inefficiently because they’re hard to value, and therefore may be an area for exceptional investments.

(Cover photo by Dan Taylor – www.heisenbergmedia.com – CC BY 2.0 – tinyurl.com/z2zjfla)

Here’s Why a Judge Thinks Prop 60 Would Be a Horrifying Legal Precedent – Vote NO

no-on-prop-60At an event I attended last weekend, I happened to meet an actual, currently-working judge (the first judge I’ve ever met in person.) I asked her for her opinion on Prop 60, and she’d never heard of it, and she had no opinion on condoms in porn. But the more I started telling her the legal details, the more she literally started to both laugh and gasp at the outrageousness and legal absurdity of what she was hearing.

She said laws that encourage so-called “taxpayer lawsuits” initiated by citizens to sue alleged violators of regulations were common. But she had never heard of a law or proposed law that offers large financial bounties to citizens to initiate these lawsuits. She said this was an incredibly dangerous and ominous prospect, because once it passes it becomes standing legal precedent.

Why would that be bad? Because, she said, then any politician or regulator or special interest group or hate group with an ax to grind will now have a legal precedent allowing them to politicize any obscure regulation that vaguely intersects with some group they hate (immigrants, women, queer people, sex workers, abortion providers, pot growers and dispensaries, Muslims–the usual targets), and set up bounty-systems of vigilante justice to target the alleged violators.

She was particularly worried about how this would play out at the local level. Let’s say there’s one gay bar in some conservative town, and homophobic locals have been trying to shut it down for years. Well now, any bigoted members of the local government have a standing precedent to institute a large bounty for all citizens of the town to sue and harass the proprietor of the bar for even *alleged* violations of any number of minor local bar regulations and ordinances (which would normally be enforced by some local inspector, not by angry mobs of citizens), eventually overwhelming and shutting the owner down with frivolous harassment lawsuits.

The judge also had a field day with the licensing and reporting requirements in the act. She said it was totally unprecedented, and legally absurd, to require business owners to write in to an agency and affirmatively assert, under penalty of perjury, that they are following a regulation, each and every time they perform the activity being regulated.  She used an analogy of regulations in a hair and nail salon. Imagine if salon owners had to write in a letter swearing they had properly sanitized each set of scissors, etc., after each use. That would snow the business owner under a mountain of ridiculous and unnecessary reporting. That’s just not how industry regulation works, and Prop 60 is legally absurd for this reason as well.

Finally, the judge pointed out that, if Prop 60 passes, countless shady legal outfits, akin to ambulance chasers, will set up shop and initiate countless lawsuits against (female, queer, trans) porn performers. If even a fraction of these result in judgements, these legal bottom-feeders will have ample reason to spend every work day of every year harassing every porn performer they possibly can.

You could think porn is bad, and yet I hope you would STILL oppose setting up a standing legal precedent that allows hate groups and special interests to deal with societal issues by empowering angry mobs to initiate vigilante lawsuits against individual workers, incentivized by large bounties. It’s just an awful, awful precedent, for the entire state and nation, and I enjoin you to vote NO on Prop 60.