I had a long conversation with a woman friend in London who runs yoga and tantra workshops. In her experience all the men attending her classes were either 'wimps' or 'creeps'. Wimps being mother's boys who have 'doormat' printed on their foreheads and hate their maleness. Creeps being touchy feely in all the wrong ways, without boundaries. Despite my disagreeing with the word 'all' I had to acknowledge she had summed up a number of men who are part of the Mind Body Spirit scene.
The wimps have, in her words, 'no balls', but in many ways they highlight a paradox. She wanted to be with men who empathized, have emotional intelligence, as well as being content in their masculinity. For many men this sounds like an impossibility - 'butch and caring' - do they fit in the same box?
As a regular participant in 5-rythyms dance workshops I can testify to the unpleasant antics of the creeps, who select their victims in a very predatory way. I can also report a small number of women who behave in that way too.
Acknowledging that she might be coming from a place of prejudice, considering her latest attempts at relationships, her final question remained 'where are all the good men?'
This last question at least kept the door open for the existence of 'good' men. Only a small percentage of us go to yoga and tantra classes, despite the fact we would all probably benefit from them. So, where are the good men?
I pondered this question as I returned home on the commuter special through Reading. Being a self employed writer I normally travel off-peak, rarely having to share such cramped space. Clunking, shunting, pushing and heaving the carriage filled with men. A great turbulence of suits, difficult to identify one from the crowd, but I tried. When I looked at each face and saw their inflections and behaviour, I saw each of them having a story, each of them reflecting their attempt to have meaning in their lives.
My initial judgment had been to look down my nose at these poor people traveling like this every day. But on deeper inspection I saw men who had a role, a purpose in their lives, and who were now returning to their families, to look after children, to share their daily troubles and cares with their partners.
It was a whole train full of good men, and probably a few wimps and creeps in there as well. The great majority would never contemplate attending a tantra workshop, but does that make them less evolved, less worthwhile?
I watched the TV that evening and was amazed by the Terracotta army. 8000 warriors, each individually carved, each one unique and yet all looking superficially the same. Each with their bow and arrows, their respective jobs, functions and place in the hierarchy. At Reading I'd encountered the British equivalent, the 'Ashen Army', each man dressed in roughly the same clothes, shirt, tie, suit, and yet each slightly different. The ashen army were warriors in their own way, each with a purpose in life, with a role to play. I thought maybe the lack of purpose and disconnection from role and values made men into wimps and creeps?
I realized too the wimps and creeps of the yoga and tantra world served a negative role in our lives. By being so out of kilter, they remind women they should want more from their men. They also show us all what is missing in a man when he doesn't have a sense of purpose.
I'll be attending the 'Bam, Being A Man' conference at the South Bank in London on the 31st January to 2nd February. I wonder how many wimps, creeps and members of the ashen army I'll meet and spend time with. Perhaps see you there?