Learning about consent is a common topic for courses and workshops these days. And it’s definitely important after years of not thinking it mattered. But the final destination isn’t consent.
It is actually honouring true desire.
Let’s Redefine Masculine & Feminine
The masculine and feminine are simply two parts of a whole. When they play together in union, we create a “oneness” – a state of true happiness and bliss. “Masculine” and “feminine” describe how we relate to each other every time we interact. If we aren’t being “masculine” or “feminine”, then we aren’t actually interacting with someone, we are simply two people doing our own thing in the same room.
For example, in order for us to have a conversation, one must be speaking and one must be listening. Speaking is masculine or yang. Listening is feminine or yin. The only time we actually are “having a conversation” is when each person is polarized to be either speaking or listening (this can change throughout the conversation). If both people are speaking at the same time, or both people are silent, you might be in the same room, but you aren’t actually connecting in any way.
We also interact with each other through the dynamic of “protector” and “vulnerable”. This is a parent protecting their child. A friend standing up for another friend. There is a natural connection between the protector and the protected. If someone falls in the street and you help them up, you have created a connection.
Or the relationship of structure and chaos. When you are having a hard day filled with confusing emotions of loss, grief, sadness or anger, you will likely stay separate from others unless you have a friend that will create “structure” around your “chaos”. This is the friend that we call for a shoulder to cry on or to let us vent. This friend simply “holds space” or makes the world safe for us to let it all go and fully dive into our chaos.
From Trespass to Desire
The primary masculine/feminine dynamic where this matters is the relationship of giving and receiving. This is supposed to be a very simple and loving dynamic of giving to another what they desire. If a child is hungry, then we feed them. If we need a blanket, someone gives us one. If we want to give someone a present because we know they’d like it, then we hope they accept it with open arms.
But this giving and receiving dynamic has gotten very confused over the years – to the point that we no longer know how to give and receive easily at all. Partly, it is because we give with the intention of getting something back and therefore, we also don’t want to receive because we don’t want to feel that we owe anyone anything. For many reasons, we have come into contact with many “takers” over the years. (I highly recommend the book “Give and Take” by Adam Grant). When we have had takers in our lives, we no longer find joy in giving because we are literally bled dry by them.
The other problem is that we also give things that the receiver doesn’t want. THIS is where the trespass-consent-desire issue comes up.
The Feminine as Object
The feminine does not indicate gender. It is simply the feminine polarity in any of the above relationships. It is the vulnerable, the listener, the chaos/mystery, the receiver, etc.
All of these dynamics require connection and union to be healthy and to cause a win/win relationship for each person. But historically, we have interacted with each other in very detached ways. And when we interact in detached and separate ways, we may still interact, but all the joy that is possible is lost:
- The protector becomes controlling of the vulnerable.
- The speaker gives advice, preaches, and talks endlessly and the situation or politeness forces us to be silent.
- Logic discounts intuition.
- Structure strips the possibilities out of chaos
- And the giver does things to others who don’t have the right or the ability to say no.
In all of these instances, the “feminine” is simply an object to be controlled, spoken to, moulded, oppressed, and used for whatever the “masculine” wants.
Please note that I’m not saying “men” here. I’m saying anyone or any institution who is taking the masculine polarity in any relationship but acting in a separate and detached way (this is the only way that oppression and abuse can happen).
Consent is the first sign of freedom from this oppression of the feminine (not women, the feminine – could include children, sons, women, wives, husbands, students, employees, poor nations, Mother Earth, etc). Consent is the first step of the feminine saying “I am not an object. I have a right to not be used by you.”
Letting the Feminine Come Alive
This is the next step after consent.
When the feminine in any situation is considered a whole human, we now enter into what Martin Buber would call the “I-Thou” relationship. Each person in the situation is actually a whole, sentient being who brings something important to the relationship. The feminine polarity actually adds something to the dynamic – but not in a masculine way – in a truly feminine way.
The listener adds to the polarity because when someone is truly listening and hearing us, we say more interesting things (which we normally need to hear). To have another human witness who we are is incredibly empowering. And when there is connection between the two people, the speaker will consider their listener as well. They won’t just talk to hear themselves speak. They will be in genuine “communion/communication” with the other. Time will stand still and you will be able to chat all night.
When the vulnerable can truly be vulnerable, this not only is incredibly healing for that person, it creates a strength and an honour in the other that they can be trusted enough to be shown this vulnerable side of another human. This is true hearts connecting. The value of this is impossible to describe. But we all know the incredible value of a confidante. It is the difference between feeling totally alone in the world and knowing that at least one other person knows your deepest and darkest secrets and still loves you.
When someone truly receives something that we want to give to them, our hearts are totally filled. It could be the joy of cooking your loved one their favourite meal on their birthday. Or someone receiving a hug from you because you genuinely love them to pieces. Or in relationship, when someone is happy to receive all of you – all of your quirks, joys, and uniqueness – this is an incredible gift.
Reading the Feminine
But the feminine is even more than just that.
“She” holds wisdom that the masculine must read properly if there is going to be the true bliss of union.
A good speaker or teacher will “read” their listener or student and only answer the questions that the listener/student has within them. These are the people who are fascinating to listen to because somehow they are answering everything that you want to know.
A good protector reads the vulnerable and only provides what the vulnerable needs. If they sense that silence is the answer, then they will keep silent. Or maybe it’s a hug. Or it’s sitting across the room at a distance. Or maybe it’s cookie-dough ice-cream. Holding space for another only works when you are acutely reading the feminine. Otherwise, even with the best intentions, if you stay separate and only do “what you think is best”, the vulnerable one will know that you are not actually connected to them and not be able to “go deeply” within, release and heal.
In giving and receiving, it is the same. A good giver only gives what is asked for. They give advice when asked. They give money if that is what is needed (and they have it to give). They give touch when touch is desired. They give joy when joy is needed. They give gifts to those who love gifts and presence when that is all that is really desired.
What About Sexually?
This is one of the great reasons that we are struggling in our sex lives so much and why so many are seeking other ways of interacting through tantra.
Sexual intimacy is a very vulnerable intimacy. If we act separately here, we not only simply achieve the act of coitus, we actually create subtle damage in each person because we are not meant to act in such intimacy in a totally detached and separate way.
We end up treating each other like objects. The damage here can continue for many years through many partners because of our deep desire for love, companionship and sexual intimacy.
Historically, the feminine (now I’m talking about women) had no say. It was even written into many marriage vows and contracts around the world that she must “give” sex to her husband whenever he wanted it. And the fear of not keeping him happy was real and very important since if she didn’t please him, she could be put out in the street with no rights and the inability to work and support herself and her children.
And so, now in the time of gender equality, we are now needing to learn consent. This is for all genders, all orientations, and in all age-groups (sometimes the older generations have a harder time with this because they have lived so long as sexual objects and thus the training runs deep).
Consent is the key that turns this ship around. And true, loving connection is the new direction.
Honouring the Feminine (and the Masculine)
Once we have turned this ship around (it’s a big ship with many hidden rooms – but it’s definitely turning), the key is embracing listening to the feminine for our masculine energy to act upon.
Imagine listening to our children. What do they truly want in life? What if they aren’t just “naive children”? What if they hold the wisdom to guide them on their life’s journey and we are the masculine structure and energy to help them make it happen?
Imagine observing our friends, family, and strangers in the street. Are they asking for something? Do they need something? Do I have what they need? Could I give that to them? On the flip-side, imagine being able to ask for what you need and knowing that the other will only give it to you if they have it and it brings them joy to do so.
Imagine only giving advice when asked for. Imagine knowing that you could share intimate details with a friend without them trying to “fix” you… Imagine feeling safe enough to ask for advice and having the freedom to do whatever we want with it.
Imagine what would happen in intimacy if we were constantly connected in love and loving ways. Imagine we slowed down and instead of doing what we desire, that we realize that this is a union, a deeply intimate connection that we are truly honoured to be a part of. Imagine feeling loved in that deep, vulnerable way.
Just imagine, an I-Thou experience with every person… every time.
Hmmm.. It would be a pretty wonderful life.