“I want to open up like a flower,” I said. The three women agreed. I felt affirmed. My sexuality felt fitting, possibly for the first time.
The exercise, on this day Zoom workshop, with people I might never see again, was to make three requests of men, what we would want them to know and understand that we wanted. We discussed what opening up might mean, and while there was some agreement, this is my interpretation. Ideally, it is like the flower opening up to the sun- warmed, caressed, fulfilling itself, the flower opens. I want to be caressed. I want to be wooed, courted. I want foreplay.
I want to be able to trust. I am hurt, and I need my hurt held; and that enables me to be vulnerable. I want to be my full primate, animal nature, which might seem like darkness and chaos. I need to be enabled to trust. I want to feel safe, nurtured and protected.
When I said that after, a man said that is the most beautiful invitation he had ever heard from a woman.
A woman said, she wasn’t keen on “wooed and courted”- should we not be escaping traditional roles and meeting as equals? Of course! I do not want to define womanhood for any other woman. Possibly, not all men will fit all women. Though my gay friend said he could be a bottom or a top, when he changed from one to the other he felt the erogenous zones on his body changing. Some people might adjust to meet a wider variety of possible partners.
And for me, the winning of trust is more necessary because I have been hurt, and hurt can make me freeze, make me numb, make me unable to open up, state my needs or even know them myself. We all have baggage. When I trusted, and opened, and was cared for, I opened fully. More experience like that, more exploration, more acceptance and understanding, I might need less to set me alight.
This is sexuality for mature people. We want an authentic, truthful, journey to complete bodily connection. I want us to help each other to maintain conscious awareness and see when we are triggered, when we are back in old patterns or old pain, when we are numb. Welcome, rather than resisting the pattern: what need does it express? Possibly, when one is triggered they will trigger the other. I was briefly triggered during the workshop. Taking responsibility for myself being conscious and aware- of my feelings, the other and our surroundings, and undertaking to help them to be aware too, we may escape the triggers. Notice the feeling without blame or judgment.
It’s about being conscious of feeling without needing to express the feeling in order to be conscious of it; and responding to the stimulus in freedom and strength rather than reacting like a machine- when that button is pressed I can only react like that. So, recognise and disconnect the buttons.
People recognise the difficulties, too. Freezing and becoming numb, that “courting” is just the time to develop trust.
In the patriarchy with rape culture, men and women are hurting, not just trans people. Jamie Catto planned this as a truth and reconciliation exercise between the sexes, telling each other what we wanted, defusing male privilege, maintaining our positivity and lightness among some heavy stuff. Seeing myself as a “man” attracted to women, I wanted to open like a flower to a woman. I have seen these relationships working. I have also approached a woman in that way and while that was what we both wanted, we just triggered each other. And I have seen a man with a similar sexuality to mine try to “man up” for a woman, and become so much more relaxed after they split.
We recognise masculine energy in women, feminine energy in men. It does not matter whether this comes from nature or nurture- my problems come from resisting who I am now, whether that comes from nature or nurture. Some is unchangeable.
Men can be strongly affected by women’s radiance. Women cannot be held solely responsible for that. I tend to feel no-one should dim her light to avoid hurting another. A man should appreciate the beauty without needing to take her, or resenting that she is not available to him. There are the stereotypes of the modest maid and the bad girl, and men should not assume the whole applies to a woman because she shows one alleged characteristic of one.
I loved the description of the tango. A man and a woman catch eyes across the dancefloor, and agree wordlessly to dance. In the first dance the man assesses his partner’s expertise, and does not push too far. The man is leading, but the woman’s assent is needed at all times. They dance together, both giving and receiving, with balance and reciprocity.
Let us be kind to each other, heal and forgive each other, explore together and enable each other. We inherit so much pain. I am not going to pass on the pain.
I felt like a woman, as if transgender is real. I think it is.