Yoga Articles by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad
Transforming Sexuality: Changing the Context of Conquest (Page 3)
Diana Alstad and Joel Kramer
Joel: What is needed, of course, is a sharing of institutional power. What is also needed is for both men and women to develop an inner strength based on feelings of real adequacy, rather than relying on external sources of power to bolster themselves. Anything that comes to you externally can be taken away. Institutional power does not satisfy internal adequacy, and consequently you can never really get enough of it to feel secure. Real strength, which comes from one's capacity to meet challenges freshly, cannot be taken away.
Diana: It's easy to mistake external power for inner strength. Another problem is that in centering around a man, women tend to set their own development aside. Current reactions against this and against traditional sex roles have contributed their share to the confusion. As a result, each sex is putting the other one into new binds. Women's new message to men is "Be more open and emotional; give up some power and share it with me so we can have an equal relationship." Sometimes when the man lets go of traditional male ego supports and opens up more, paradoxically, the woman may lose sexual interest in him. I have often heard women say, "I have a problem. My husband has opened up to me in new ways; he is sharing his fears and weaknesses, and he has become a real friend now. I love him, but I'm not turned on to him sexually anymore, and I don't know what to do about it. We're both very upset."
Joel: Images of male power are associated with being invulnerable - being "cocksure." When a man gets in touch with emotions and fears and lets go of old self-images, at first he doesn't have anything to replace them with.
Diana: In this transition he does seem floundering and lost. It's hard to be turned on by someone who isn't feeling good about himself. The man needs time to develop an identity based on inner sources of strength and adequacy.
Joel: The man's new message to the woman is."Be more independent - I don't want to support you or have you be so clinging and emotionally dependent." Yet a large part of him is still into having her center her life around him, for that feeds his adequacy, his desire for control, and gives him power and security. There is a freedom in having the women stronger and more independent, but he's used to the old pleasures of having her dependent on him. So men's double message to women is: "Be strong and independent, but still center around me."
The major problem is that both sexes are asking the other to change without being fully cognizant that they, too, must change. This means women getting stronger and more independent. A further necessity is for each sex to find this integration in the other attractive, which involves changing the way desire has been conditioned in us. Since the roots of attraction are so deeply conditioned, acknowledging this problem is not sufficient to change things unless the understanding is total - not merely intellectual, but also emotional. Real understanding, real "seeing" comes from the mind and the heart; only this kind of understanding can bring transformation.
Diana: In conquest, the two people are fundamentally not turning on to each other as much as to their own sense of power. Power is the ability to command attention and get what you want. So much of this is self-centered, on both sides. It's as if two egos or images were posturing in front of each other, using the energy they generate for their own adequacy needs. The pleasure and gratification involved are enormous. Momentarily, when you're feeling your power to attract, it does make you feel good. Using each other this way, however, doesn't give any sense of support and actually continues to promote inadequacy, which generates the need to conquer or withhold again in order to feel adequate.
Joel: It works like a feedback loop. The more you get, the more you need, because all that is being fed is image; neither one's real sense of adequacy is being satisfied.