My mom, Gail, is lovely enough to proof-read most of the writing that I send out into the world. She's a superb editor of commas, reminds me about tenses, knows grammar like the back of her hand.
When I emailed her the copy for my just launched "desire for dudes" sales page, there was radio silence for a hot minute. This was followed up with a phone call:
"Honey, it sounds like you're trolling for men. Is that your intention here?"
I had to laugh. No mom. I'm not trolling for men ... You know, my style is a little more forward than yours. I want the copy to be a little pushy - a little risque', but no, this is not a personal ad. It's an invitation.
Here's the deal. I think the guys are often left out of all of the "feeling" work. I think there are many, many men who are genuinely interested in learning about their feelings. I think it's unfair to continue to expect our men and boys to function at a high emotional vibration, when we often exclude them from the conversation. Yes, including men among a women's gathering absolutely changes the dynamic of the group - for both sexes. But as a culture, we tend NOT to circle back and create that learning opportunity for the men and boys, saying that they simply wouldn't be interested in all of that "girly stuff."
As the mother of a young boy, I consciously work at including emotional literacy in our daily lives. I am striving to raise a viable man here. A man who will thrive in emotionally complex situations. A man who will ask to have his needs met - graciously. A man who will listen fully to women (and other men) when they speak to him. A man who values and honors his feelings (and the feelings of others). A man who is utterly connected to his deepest, truest, core desired feelings, who can use his wise guidance system with no sense of shame or embarassment.
Recently, I considered attending an herbal conference. It was a weekend event where women gathered, camped, shared stories and herbal mysteries with each other. I was reading all about it and came across a series of expectations / rules for the event. The page stated that female children of all ages were welcome to accompany their mothers at the festival. However, if you had the circumstance of having given birth to a male child, and he happened to be over the age of six, he was not allowed to accompany you during the weekend. My jaw dropped. Really? Is this really where we find ourselves?
It got me to thinking about what happens to a boy when he turns six that disqualifies him from attending events with his mother? It got me to thinking deeply about the perceptions that we have as a culture that keep us firmly rooted in cycles of violence, misunderstanding and conflict between the sexes.
How can we expect our young, impressionable boys to have deep compassion, understanding and appreciation for women when they aren't even invited to witness the inner circle? How can a fully grown man ever truly appreciate the beauty, synchronicity and wisdom that women emanate if he's never allowed to see it first hand? And what safer and more appropriate opportunity to see women in their power than an educational herbal weekend campout in nature with a bunch of strong and smart women?
Not to mention the insane multitudinous benefits that come from young girls, seeing young boys, witnessing powerful women together ... Hello!! The circle of respect and adoration becomes fluid in environments of shared autonomy like that.
I think there's a place for all of it. But, I must report that as the mother of a young boy, growing up NOW, in this world, right now, I feel deep sadness sometimes. I watch the culture of exclusion that exists around young boys, discouraged to participate in women's rituals in appropriate ways. I watch the distance between the sexes expand in a way that seems fully avoidable, and quite frankly, totally lame.
I've learned that in life, it's really important to me to be invited to things. I may not always be able to attend, but the being invited really, really matters. It's that feeling that Amy Sedaris jokes about in her cookbook, I Like You, and it is absolutely real. What you're saying when you invite someone to dinner is "I like you," and most of us spend quite a bit of energy checking in to see how that offer has been received by our guest. The gesture of being invited is inclusive. There's an opportunity there.
We need to be practicing this sense of inclusion with our young boys - heck - with grown men too. The act of inviting them to participate in "our" world (in this case, I'm talking about the world of the sacred and divine feminine), lets them hang out in a space of capability. We are essentially saying, "I believe you're capable of understanding, empathizing and learning something here" when we include and invite our men into the conversation. When we exclude by default, we are continuing the cycle of fear. We are bowing down to the same paradigm that churns out grown men who demonstrate varying degrees of violence towards women, (and yes, I list issues like disrespect and unequal pay as forms of violence).
My solution is to invite our men and boys, inclusively, into the conversation. Let's include them in the exploration of feelings. Let's share the information we're gathering together as women with them, so they can do better too.
This is the spirit of my Desire For Dudes workshop. I'm interested in keeping a fresh sense of play, a certain energy of fun for sure. But at the heart of it is inclusion. An invitation to meet us where we are, in an environment that safeguards, protects, and uplifts both of the sexes.