I was supportive of my partner choosing to do Dancing Eros, and I felt uneasy about it. When I was invited to the graduation night I made a commitment to be there. When I learnt what was planned for that night I felt very disturbed.
Dancing Eros is a series of workshops that support women to be more connected with their bodies, more confident in themselves and more expressive of their erotic nature. It is based on four archetypes that the women explore through dance: Maiden, Wild Woman, Slut and Priestess.
After five weekly workshops each woman invites her partner (or a guest) to be a witness at the final ritual. The guests/partners would sit in a circle facing outward. And then the women dancers enter the room and circle around them, so each woman is randomly paired with a man. They start dancing erotically in front of him while he watches intently. After a minute or so they all then rotate one space anti-clockwise, gradually circling around all the witnesses, while expressing themselves sexuality through the four archetypes.
Some people will feel right away how this disrespects relationships – by treating one’s partner as an anonymous nobody, and dancing erotically for a series of strangers. I believe ritual is a super-powerful language. And this ritual says: “you are insignificant to me and our devotion is insignificant.” Ouch.
In the week leading up to the ritual I tried very hard to convince the facilitator and the originator of Dancing Eros to evolve the ritual to make it compassionate. I am the one who has sat with my partner during her difficulties. And this relationship holds her long after Dancing Eros has ended.
The organisers didn’t like my objections/perspective and after a couple of days they decided to shut me out of the ritual altogether. I spent the week leading up to the ritual riddled with adrenalin. I could hardly sleep, and ate very little – both unusual for patterns for me. It was a traumatic time, as I waited for something that was jarring with my soul.
I have experienced situations before where powerful women were unkind to me. So the treatment I received also resonated with past wounds. But this time I didn’t just want to submit out of the guilt of being a male. Men should not abuse women, and women should not abuse men. Simple.
On the morning of the ritual the facilitator phoned me (I am appreciative of this, thank-you). She said she wanted it to be a safe space for the women. She heard the essence of my need to be there and the devotion that was driving me. I agreed to be honouring in the space and I was given a reprieve. I cried in gratitude. I had just begged my way back into the picture. A picture that had not changed. Yet for the sake of our relationship surviving through Dancing Eros I was very glad to be able to witness my partner.
While we waited nervously outside the venue I pressed a finger I’d cut at work onto my notes, swearing in blood to be a ‘Respectful Witness’. It was a serious undertaking and during the ritual I held firm focus as a witness. I was only distracted twice for a second or two during the 90 minutes. I saw each woman very deeply.
It happened four months ago, and last Friday night I was crying in the pain of having my beloved being torn away as she gradually moved around the circle. She was also anonymous in the train of erotic dancers. Entertaining other men. Men who don’t share our depth of devotion. Dancing erotically in front of each stranger, while I could only silently watch the next woman appearing before me.
As a man in that space I felt castrated. I was dishonoured. Unable to express devotion for my beloved. It was painful, it was destructive, and it needn’t be that way.
Things escalated as it went on. It had an air of intoxication. There were beautiful aspects present, especially during Priestess, the final archetype. She was phenonemal.
I was silent during the sharing afterwards – I still felt meek after only just being allowed into the space. The sharing struck me as superficial. Once it was over my partner and one of the facilitators heard my truth. I feel the Feminine is also an internalised energy. Why did the workshop push the women to be so outward? What about the embodied guardian of her womb?*
Innocence was trampled that night. My heart still feels this loss from time to time. I feel I was abused. Why is something with so many positives aspects delivered in a way that generates trauma?
The morning after, as I emerged from sleep I was struck by the sharp sense of having a shrunken heart. My heart, that generally shines like the sun toward my partner, now cowered in my chest, frightened like an abused animal. Dancing Eros sunk a wedge between us.
For future events my wish is that Dancing Eros honours relationships. Honours devotion and love, modesty and innocence. Even honour the value of shame. Shame is a voice from the conscience that waits for us to acknowledge what is precious.
In men’s work I have always honoured my partner. I have respected her and held boundaries for her. Mens work is a lot about being present, loving and loyal as a partner, a father, a comrade and a friend.
Dancing Eros carries a deep value for women.
Please honour wholeness.
Honour the Partners.
*At the workshops each archetype is danced as a demonstration for the participants before they have a chance to explore it individually.