Intimacy Workshop takeaways #4- Boundaries  

earthShiva 61M
270 posts
9/1/2006 2:04 am

Last Read:
9/2/2006 7:21 am

Intimacy Workshop takeaways #4- Boundaries

The most chilling moment of the workshop came for me at the beginning of the second day. Previously, the school's founder had encouraged everyone to go out dancing with the locals at the local festival, with the specific intent of opening up their sexuality. No sexual activity allowed, of course. Just feel the charge.

Well, the next morning, there was ayhem in the lecture hall! There is a whole island culture among the local men based on hitting on tourist women. "Dancing" amounts to a mix of dry-humping and groping that would get any high school boy six weeks in Juvie if he didn't learn to rope it in real fast. This was exactly what the head of school wanted these women to encounter. (The island women, by the way, were much more proper than the island men, and would have none of this behavior from either tourists or the island men...)

A few of my classmates were, in fact, opened up by the experience. Far more were diffidently amused and condescending toward the island men. Some were traumatized. A conversation in class went something like this-

Student A: "Dr. Mother Superior, the man I was dancing with. He - he had an erection! And he kept rubbing me with it!"

Dr. MS: "Well, that was his problem!"

Student: "But, I was there to dance. He clearly wanted more than that."

Dr. MS: "Like I said, that was his problem! This is the way the islanders play. You don't owe them anything, and, unlike back home, they're okay with that. I wouldn't bring you here if I thought these men posed any danger to you. In the fifteen years I've lived here on the island, there have been no by island men. A few by foreign tourists, but not the locals. They are kind and gentle people."

Student: "But he had an erection!!!"

Dr. MS: "Here, let me show you how to dance with the island men. You start with your hands at the shoulders. You slide them down the ribcage, down the waist, to the hips, then bring them to the front. Then you push them away to the distance you feel is safe for you. This, by the way, is about you feeling safe."

Student B: "I had pretty much the same experience, and pushed him to a safe distance. But I felt like there was still more going on than the dancing. I felt like continuing the dancing was teasing on my part, given his obvious expectations."

Dr. MS:" I'll say it again. That's his problem."

Am I crazy or something? Here I am at a an intimacy workshop, and I see the head of this school teaching women how to push men away! Is this the most important lesson in intimacy? Good fences make good neighbors?

Not that she doesn't have a point. Intimacy only works in a climate where everyone feels safe. Our defensive postures are not who we are, they are what we hide behind. Feeling unsafe doesn't allow intimacy.

But even so. Shouldn't a workshop on intimacy focus on how people come together and find connection, rather than teach them how to push each other away? Doesn't this approach smack of sexual repression? My erection isn't a problem, dammit! It is an honest expression of my spirit, my maleness and my attraction. I could very easily see the same woman who complained about being rubbed with some guy's erection griping that men don't know how to comunicate their feelings! Sometimes we can't win for losing.

That night, one of my classmates had a party in her room. After a few rounds of rum punch, the furniture got cleared away for dancing. The host put on some music, grabbed one of her room-mates and starting dry-humping her in mockery of the island men. (She had, by the way, been one of the women who was vocally critical of their behavior.) After putting on her little show, she came over and asked me to dance. I looked her and said "Ich bin ein islander" and walked out. I was deeply offended at the condescending attitude toward the island men, and the implication that I was somehow different. I'm not. I just cover it up a little because that's what I always thought was expected of me.

Later on the same week, I found myself with a rather lovely 20-something classmate who was going through some kind of personal transformation. She was one of the ones who took the islanders' invitation in the friendly spirit in which it was offered. Although she was engaged to a man back home, her face was chafed red from making out with at least four different guys on the dance floor and beach that evening. We were the last ones at this out-of-the-way little club at around 1:00 AM. She asked me to stick around with her. I told her, "I'm happy to stick around and see you're safe from harm, but don't expect me be your brakes, or to bail you out of any social difficulty you make for yourself, darling. You're on your own for that."

We stayed till around 2:30. The islanders were sorry to see her go, but polite. On our way back to the resort, we stopped off at the beach. Lying next to her in the moonlight and knowing she was in a pretty vulnerable state, I asked, "Why are we here, Jen? And what's okay?" She anwered, "I just wanted a few minutes with a an who wasn't trying to score with me. We can hug, but I don't want to kiss you and I sure don't want to start taking clothes off."

Fascinated, and not at all surprised, I probed a little further, "Jen, I just watched you make out with four different men in the last three hours, and go skinny-dipping with two of them, one at a time. I'll bet you can't tell me their full names. Now, we're here in an intimcy workshop together, you take me to an empty beach, and when I have the courtesy to ask where you boundaries are, you draw them way farther away, than you do for a stranger. What makes me different?"

She answered, "Well, if you hadn't asked, you would have gotten further but I wouldn't have felt very good about it. I think you're really attractive, but I know you. That makes it different."

Ladies, think about her response for a moment next time someone sends you a penis picture before a face shot, because her response speaks volumes. Sometimes being known, even when you re liked, kills the whole deal!

The problem with our species is that women's butts don't turn bright scarlet and swell up to three times their normal size, or give off a distinct odor that can be sensed form a mile away when they want sex. Women have these boundaries, and they are very much entitled to them. But where those boundaries actually lie is often a mystery. Part of a man's skill as a lover is knowing when to lead with his dick instead of his heart or head, even more of it is knowing when "no" doesn't really mean "no" at all. The "no means no" mantra of swinger parties, where the boundaries are already right on the skin, makes sense. But in conventional life "no" means lots of different things. I, for one, have tended to take it at face value, and know that I have spent the night alone unecessarily in my past and disappointed more than a few women who were actually hoping I'd recognize the challenge for what it really was. Now, I have no place for such games in my life. Blessed with an incredibly beautiful marriage and open possibilities beyond that, I don't really have to worry about it all that much or suffer with the uncertainty. And, quite honestly, I've made it easy on myself by being right here. There is far less pretense here on AdultFriendFinder than in outside life. The relative lack of pretense is exactly what is so appealing about this odd little community.

Even so, I wish I knew more often where those darn boundaries were. So, I think, do the women around me who set them. Because intimacy, real, sacred intimacy, comes to us when we learn to let those boundaries down.

eclecticsoul4u 58F
942 posts
9/1/2006 7:05 pm

i'm wondering if sexual intimacy was ever explored during this workshop. from your description of your experience there so far sex has definitely been pushed off to the side.

i think a lot of women's attitudes and reactions about sex come down to the old double standard. good girls don't and sluts do. good girls feel shame about their bodies and sexuality and are there fore more appropriate to marry and have children with plus our culture of thin and hostility toward women who aren't thin contributes to this shame. sluts put out, like sex and their sexuality and may not want to get married.

in regard to island dancing, well, sex play is something that our culture really doesn't understand. i think part of that is the level of violence and perpetrated against women. part of dating self defense is if you are with a man and he gets an erection and you don't want to have sex a wise woman bales immediately. in a less violent environment it's just an erection and a result of interacting with a woman in a sensual way which dance can be. the experience can go further or not.

and yes, it is easier to be with a stranger whom you don't know and therefore can't risk anything with.

earthShiva replies on 9/1/2006 10:08 pm:
The sum total of the discussion of sexual intimacy came by way of my taking exception to the whole notion of prohibiting sex. Dr. MS's argument is that sexual activity can destroy intimacy because, in circumstances where the physical connection is not fully supported by emotional connection, one is likely to give up one's personal power, integrity, etc. Interestingly, this is not far off of tantric teaching that encourages ejaculatory control, but I think the reasons here have more to do with the double-standard you cite than any energetic reasons.

In our culture, there is most definitely a power component to sex, and it does often confound intimacy. For many, this power component is the basis of the play - cock teasing, bedpost-notching, and all the variations on dom-sub relationships depend on it.
While not my personal cup of tea, it is as legitimate a source of play as any other between consenting adults.

I think it is easier to be with a stranger because it removes accountability, and allows one to operate in the moment. It is, however, so much better when one can be in the moment with someone one does know! In this case with Jen, there was, I think, more than that going on. I think the act of asking brings the discussion out of the body and into the head. I think the boundary maps are drawn differently from those two points of view.

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