Brendan and I have spent a lot of time the past couple months speaking frankly, authentically, and sometimes awkwardly about our sex life and identities. About how patriarchy and our society have patterned/programmed us into doing some seriously unconscious shit because of wounding and adaptations. We’ve been using Holistic Peer Counseling tools to uncover and feel into how the wounds and adaptations we developed as children have been/are running the sex show.
There are many powerful and frankly amazing stories I could tell about our journey; however, most of them have primarily to do with embodied erotic experiences and so they don’t translate very well to writing. They’re hard to describe because Mind doesn’t grok what Body is doing, doesn’t even speak the same language, and so there are myriad translation errors.
One thing that IS coming out very clearly relates to Brendan tapping into and feeling his internalized misogyny, and how that has played out in our relationship. How entitlement to attention and sex have damaged my ability to trust him and his intentions. That I have felt his entitlement is not new within the context of my experiencing men; what’s wholly new is the fact he not only acknowledges it, but openly discusses it with me.
His courageous internal work is affording me a greater understanding of my own experience. Over and over, things he says to me are having the effect of me feeling less “crazy,” less like I’ve been making this shit up my whole life. Because—suddenly and for the very first time—a MAN is saying them to me. He is corroborating and reinforcing my body’s belief around what I’ve always known to be true about patriarchy and entitlement, but was never brave enough to speak out loud.
This morning, over text message, we had what I felt was an incredibly powerful exchange that illustrates our growing understanding. I started my moon phase this morning, and so for the past few days I haven’t wanted sex, which is edgy for both of us in our own ways. The conversation was generally about what happens when our sexual appetites aren’t in sync and specifically about my internalized guilt in that regard.
Christina: It sucks that I “make it harder for you” (when you’re aroused and I’m not available); I don’t want to do that. I just wanna be alive and around you, without forcing your body into an erotic tailspin. I mean, it’s awesome being in the yummy with you and I love our chemistry; what we create is far and beyond what I ever thought possible. And there’s this aspect of being female-bodied that I don’t love: the potent effect I have on you (and men in general) just by walking around.
Brendan: I think a large portion of the effect erotically-present women have on men (if any) has more to do with the pain that men feel when their disowned/wounded erotic feminine arises. I’m SUPPOSED to feel this painful longing.
C: I’m hearing you say that part of the longing/difficulty for you/men that arises around sexually-potent women is that you feel the loss of your disowned erotic or feminine attributes/energy. Yes? Like you resonate with mine and can feel that deep sadness/rage at what you gave up. And so—the mainstream story goes—you can then punish or take from me to quench that sadness.
B: Yes. You become an external focal point; a potent one. If I’m fully present, I feel a draw. You don’t cause that. I experience it. It’s not your willful doing. The longing in me is for what I/we gave up to survive, what was taken violently, and what we’re expected to keep hidden out of shame. Plus all the stringent limitations around conditioned masculinity, and how it’s supposed to look. It’s like my body is screaming I WANNA DO THAT TOO! And we fear being attacked or banished. At least I do.
So, the punishment is projection. Men can’t fully own their _____. So they attack it when they see it in others (women, gay people, transgendered individuals, etc.). As I see it, projection as punishment generally includes these elements:*
- Disapproval (what we see is not consistent with our own self image in some core way)
- Expulsion (because it’s easier to demonize in absentia)
(*We can’t recall exactly where Brendan heard this and Google didn’t help; perhaps in relation to the witch hunts? Or perhaps it’s a part of oppression theory? If anyone could help find a source that would be much appreciated.)
C: OH RIGHT! I don’t cause your arousal or your difficulty in finding balance with it. It isn’t willful on my part or “my fault” that you want to have sex. You know, I’ve lived so long being told/feeling like masculine arousal was somehow my doing (because vagina is a force of nature duh) when actually it’s post hoc ergo propter hoc! I’m just amazed and so fucking grateful you can describe and understand this. Also—that projection list neatly describes what I imagine St. Augustine was feeling when he decided to canonize the property/demon status of women.
B: We’ve worked this process together and you’ve felt me blaming you. Now I’m emerging through to the other side, where we can feel the tension and also sit in the Balance of Attention with it. Lovingly.
And so, here we sit: loving one another, seeing one another, and holding space for ancestral sexual wounds. I can’t even describe to you how amazing this feels and how grateful I am to finally be here. Thank you, Brendan, for being the man who finally made space for Me.