Once upon a time I was at a dimly-lit Spanish restaurant, filled with boisterous people. Someone I know had just left a job and we were celebrating. His co-workers, as well as many people he had worked with and befriended over the years, were there for toasts and drinks and more drinks and even some drinking games.
A latecomer, I was chatting on and off with folks as they came and went. At one point I was talking intently with a fellow latecomer (read: sober person), an amazing woman I hadn't seen in a while. Somehow, I don't remember exactly, the topic ended up on bachelor parties, and strip clubs, and it took a sudden turn.
"I don't get it - why do men need that? Why?"
I could see the pain and hurt flashing across this woman's face, a woman who adored her husband but was still deeply cut by the fact that his bachelor party had been a little too, shall we say, "traditional" for her taste.
In the midst of the party going on around us, my heart broke for her. At some point or another, we've all either had that hurt or witnessed it in someone else. I knew the answer to her question, but I couldn't find the words for it in that moment, and so I sat in my pool of frustration as the conversation and party continued around me.
You see, I had recently started taking pole dancing classes.
Sacred, divine, feminine pole dancing classes.
And hot damn sister...
...I knew the answer to her question.
Class took place at a place called, appropriately, "Tempole," a studio in a live-work space in my neighborhood. Walk in and you were greeted by heavy, dark, wood beams, solid and rough, a kitchen to the back, a water fountain to the right. Low lighting. Couches and armchairs and soft rugs edged the corner dance floor with its three poles. Look up and dripping from the ceiling was a crystal chandelier. There were a few mirrors here and there, not so you could study your technique, but so you could occasionally, accidentally, get an eyeful of your own incredible hotness.
I learned a lot on that dance floor.
Pole dancing is sloooooow.
America is fast.
America is fast and bright and loud and always in a rush. America is hard. Work hard, play hard, go, go, go. Do. Do more. Do more now. Do more yesterday. In America, you are never enough.
Pole dancing is slow.
Pole dancing is slow, and dim, and just right. Instead of having your senses battered, they are caressed. The music isn't too loud, it's luscious. It's dim, but not too dark to see, just dark enough to let your eyes rest a bit from the day's screens. The coolness of the metal pole is balanced by the warmth of the sheepskin rug and blankets piled on the couches, both soft and supportive.
And I could move. Move in this space in ways I never would in the outside world, because - America.
I learned so much on that dance floor.
Everyday women turned into mesmerizing, writhing, flowing sex goddesses. It didn't matter what you looked like. Women whose bodies didn't fit our society's ideals, women who could be considered average or frumpy or overweight or plain, were just as delicious to watch as someone whose features would elicit unwelcome catcalls on the street. The dimensions of the individual body didn't determine the pleasure. Instead, the individual's ability to melt into that honey world, her ability to access pleasure, to feel it in her own body, was what made her so enticing to watch.
That, and the fact that she wasn't doing it for you. None of us were. There was no audience. No men. No clients, no boss. No one else to please. No one to perform for.
It just so happens that a woman pleasing no one other than herself, joyfully, radiantly, taking up as much space and time as she needs - happens to be the most beautiful, enchanting thing in the world.
In life, we are all reaching for something. Sometimes, we don't know what it is. We reach anyway, over and over again, trying to find that "thing" we are looking for, or at the very least, something close to it.
I know why otherwise upright citizens, the family men, the good guys, go to strip clubs.
It's because they are starving for slow. For honey. For soft, for caressing. To be in a space where you are so entranced by the beauty in front of you that you can't help but forget your troubles. Some part of them knows they need this deeply nourishing feminine energy to survive - we all do - but they don't know where to get it, so they follow their noses (and their cocks) to the closest facsimile they can find.
I'll tell you a secret.
I share something with "those men."
I too, am starving for healthy, vibrant, luscious, feminine energy. I too want slow. I too want sensual. I too want to be nourished, caressed. I too want to surround myself with the brashness of slow, the braveness that knows everything else can wait, everything, every To Do List and deadline and sink full of dirty dishes, because not a damn thing matters more than attuning every sense to the vast, glorious, deep, Divine, Pleasure available to me right now, in this very quiet, very slow moment.
In our awkward, flailing reaching out, we often screw up and hurt others on the way. Ouch.
And there is always another level of understanding percolating beneath the mess of wounds and scars.
Men and women are both hungry for the same thing.
Our world is out of whack. We all very much want it be in whack. Set to rights. Healed. Whole.
We want a world in which our overbearing, controlling, destructive masculine energy is set back into it's beautiful, rightful place. We want a world in which our anemic, underfed, anorexic feminine energy is set back into it's beautiful rightful place. They are both sides of the same coin. They are either both healthy and nourishing, or both sick and harmful. Heal one, heal all.
Allowing for poetry:
On some level, we all want a world filled with luscious, radiant, pole-dancing, sex goddess women who know exactly how to nourish the world by sharing their ecstasy, joy, and beauty. On some level, we all want a world filled with luscious, radiant, wise men who know exactly how to protect, love, care for, and adore the amazing Source that feeds them.
This dynamic plays out in romantic relationships around the world, but most importantly, it plays out within ourselves, each individual human person. Neither one of us is all feminine or all masculine. We have both. We are both.
So ask: how is this playing out inside me? Where is my nourishing, restorative, sweet, slow, honey, sacred pole-dancer energy? Do I use my warrior self to care for it and protect it - or do I use my warrior self to run rough-shod over it and destroy it?
And if you don't like the answer, what are you going to do about it?
Inside you, there is a luscious, sacred pole-dancer
who knows exactly what she needs
Right beside her is a badass boss warrior
who wants nothing more
than to make that happen.
Talk to them.
They'll take you places you never dreamed.