originally published on the web site of the Turned on Woman Movement
Dear Turned-on Women,
I am one of those few lucky men who has had the privilege to meet, to know, to love, and in a few cases to fall madly in love with turned-on women.
As with many men, I suppose, my first romantic relationships with women I’d describe today as turned-off women. It is not that they lacked the ability for love or to connect sexually, because they could do both, but that they never seemed to surrender fully to their own sex, their own pleasure, their own desire. It was like they were engaged in sex because it was part of the expected script, rather than because it was the play they wanted to write.
Then, in my mid-twenties, I had the fortune to encounter a woman who seemed on a mission to explore every nook and cranny of the sexual landscape of her mind. My vision of female sexuality shattered into a million pieces, and she revealed to me the power of a woman fully immersed in her self-sexploration.
Never again would I desire to be in relationship with any type of woman other than a turned-on woman.
I want to acknowledge what a huge step it is for you to transform from what society tells you a woman or “girl” should be, to a full expression of who you really are, especially with regards to relationships and sexuality. We both know you may suffer the slings and arrows of society’s condemnation for being turned-on. I encourage you to remain turned-on, even when that happens. I simply imagine their shock when they call you a slut and you hug them. I encourage you to break the frame of turned-offness in the world.
The most valuable thing I have learned from turned-on women is an appreciation for authenticity in relationship. Sometimes I find it difficult to meet you in this arena. It can be confronting to be vulnerable in front of you, especially when society still sends the message that to be vulnerable is to be unmanly. Loveable means able to be loved. Vulnerable means able to be wounded. I’m often afraid of being wounded, but I know that’s just an old story, and does not have to be true with you. Just know that if I can’t get there easily, it is just my fear of being hurt when I do go there. I’ll do my best to give you the same room to be afraid, and I’ll do my best to encourage you to push past that fear and return to authentic vulnerability. I humbly request the same consideration.
And while we’re being authentic and vulnerable with each other, I want to let you know how painful it can be to be a man in today’s world. I often feel assaulted by a never-ending array of negative stereotypes of men. From entertainment, to advertising, to comments I hear from both men and women in everyday conversation, I often become angry and resentful of a society that seems to value your sex over mine, and to treat mine as inherently: violent, arrogant, sexist, and in a word: morally inferior. So sometimes, when I’m approached by a turned-on woman, and I’ve had a day filled with more hate of my sex than usual, I cannot even see her as a turned-on woman. She’s become invisible, just another assault on my masculinity. I request that if you see this in me, you give me a hug. Interrupt my delusion of separateness.
I know and fully acknowledge, as I think most men would, that women have had a hard and oppressive time in society through the course of history. Often this oppression has come at the hands of men, and this has, in a very real way, poisoned many women against men. While I acknowledge the painful facts of history, I humbly request that you set them aside when you interact with me. I am not one of those men who oppressed you. I am not one of those men who rape your sisters. I am not one of those men who would hold you down, or tell you what to be, or how to be feminine. Please see me not as just another man, but as the unique human I am. Many men, me included, feel frequently shamed for simply being male. If you truly desire partnership with us, you need to let go of the shaming language, just as men need to let go of our sexist ideas about women to truly be partners with you.
I acknowledge that you’ll possibly have days exactly like the one I just described. You’ll possibly be in a space where you can only see me as just another assault on your femininity; just another man. Look out, because I’m coming in for a hug, and I’m not going to permit you to deny my love for you.
It seems this way to me: that men and women are best and most together when we become bold enough to remain turned-on through the tough stuff. It feels light and easy to be turned-on when things get completed on time, needs feel abundantly met, and everyone agrees. Remaining turned-on when things get dropped out, needs feel scarce, and everyone disagrees presents a larger challenge. This challenge, however, tests how turned-on both you and I truly are, each time we bump up against it. Can we remain turned-on, or will we give in to the old script? This, for me, is the very definition of commitment. Be clear when you ask me to commit. Once I’m in, I’m not backing down just because things get tough.
Again, I encourage you to break my frame of separateness. Break the frame of “this is the way it is,” and move into the frame of “this is what I want.” I acknowledge how difficult that can be. It is hard for me too, many times. Know that the more we break the common frames of society, either alone or as partners, the more opportunity we have to create a vision of relationship that works for both of us.
I want to let you know two things about myself, because I think they apply to most men, and that you may not know.
First: The angry exterior I sometimes show is often hiding my fear. It is easy to be an angry man. It fits the stereotype society has for us, and nobody will question it. It is hard to be a fearful man. It runs counter to the stereotype society has for us. Just as society will permit a woman to be afraid or sad, but not angry; society will permit a man to be angry or mean, but not afraid. Such a man is a wussy, a puss, a wimp, etc. So instead of showing you my fear, I get angry. Know that when I show you anger, it may not really be anger, but just an attempt to cover up my fear. Give me space to express my fear. Encourage it. When I express it, I let it go, and that angry cover will vanish.
Second: What I really want from you, and what I think most men deeply want from women, is to be loved for who I am. Not for my potential. Not for what I might one day become. Not for what I can give, or how I make you feel. Not for my masculinity or my mission in life. I want to be loved for all of who I am. I want my flaws to be okay with you, just as yours are okay with me, and often part of why I love you. I want us to be able to love each other totally and in the present. If I don’t feel that – if I feel your love has conditions – I may become unresponsive or move on to the next person. I have no desire to be with someone who wants to fix and to change me.
So, turned-on women, you’ve got my attention, my admiration, and my support. You’ve found a full partner in me when it comes to waking up the world from our collective slumber. I’m signed-on for the full ride when bringing about a radical shift in sexual awareness and intimate connection. Use me, and use other turned-on men and women. We’re in this together. I say it is high time we got done with all of this guilt crap, and got down to the real business of life: creating heaven on Earth.