There’s a dance I go to every Wednesday and Sunday called Ecstatic Dance. A DJ plays evocative music from all kinds of genres and everyone dances in their own way. It’s complete freedom. No one drinks at this dance or smokes. Women do not worry about being teased or stalked for their gender, dress, or style of movement. Men may dance with other men and no one categorizes their sexuality. One does not have to wait for a partner; people joyfully dance alone or with another of either sex or in a group.
The people who come to this dance are often creative, sensitive, sensual, and passionately working on creating a culture that feels safe and welcoming to all types of people.
I’ve been thinking a great deal about this culture recently…how fragile it is. Every week we come together and do a personal, spontaneous, creative, and sensual dance. And there are unspoken understandings: that we will not judge another’s dance, that we will not sexually objectify anyone, that we have room for differently raced or gendered people. Women, in particular, feel free to express their sensuality in the form of clothes and movement without fear of shame, violence, or exploitation. After 5,000 years or so of being bought and sold as chattel, the freedom to be sensual for oneself is extraordinary for women, especially in contrast to parts of the world where women must be fully covered in public or have their sexual parts cut out.
However, as our dances become more and more popular, new people enter the dance and some are not aware of the unspoken rules of this new culture. Every once in a while I hear about someone pressuring a woman for her number or some other more mainstream behavior and I realize that we have something quite precious to protect.
As a group we are swimming upstream from mainstream culture…not an easy task in itself, and we must work to overturn even our own habitual notions around domination, control, acceptance, ownership, and sensuality. Acceptance, sensuality, non-judgment, empathy, and presence are generally defined as feminine traits in our culture. Poetically we could call it protecting the divine feminine and I mean the divine feminine in both men and women. As women, we are used to feeling marginalized in the media for these qualities, however we forget that men with these qualities also feel pushed out. Some of the most distressed men I know are sensitive, feeling types who have been bullied by their more aggressive, masculinized counterparts.
One way to think of these feminine qualities is as those human behaviors that would not be encouraged for making war. For eight thousand years, our kings have pushed onto men the characteristics needed to make good soldiers– duty, ability to follow orders, organized action, thinking over feeling, alcohol to numb feelings, narcissism, deliberate avoidance of feeling what another feels (no empathy or compassion) and judgment over acceptance. These are essentially the traits of all of our heroic soldier types in the media. Men are not inherently these masculine characteristics; they have to be cornered into these stereotypes from childbirth.
How do we protect this precious culture that allows, even celebrates the divine feminine? I have been pondering this question for the past several months. Do we create rules and then enforce them? Do we make a judging body? Do we require people to go to meetings? I am inclined to try a completely different way to approach this issue of promoting and maintaining a different culture, something a bit more, well, feminine; something that has gentleness, fun, receptivity, and diversity in it.
I am especially interested in finding a feminine way, because our culture thinks of feminine as weak and ineffective. I suspect that the opposite is true. Receptivity, the ability to surrender to the present, acceptance, non-judgment, sensuality, and empathy are the very traits needed to connect to one another, to the planet, and to a larger consciousness. How can we survive into the future disconnected from one another? How can we survive if we are not present to the planet now, not receptive to its feedback systems, and deaf to the cries of our fellow animals? How can we find the flow needed to survive if we cannot stop following duty, rules, and “how we’ve always done things” long enough to be present to the soft voice of Life and Spirit?
It may be that the qualities that the kings labeled weak and bad for successful war making are the very qualities that have the most strength for any kind of human future. Personally, I’d like to find out. I have some ideas about how to protect the divine feminine in a feminine way that I will post in the future. I am interested in your ideas as well and hope you will feel free to communicate with me.