You Might be ‘One of the Good Guys,’ but Women Need to Give a Little Nudge
Last year was the rise of the #MeToo movement and 2018 has been called by some the year of the empowered woman. “Feminism” is a word that frightens a handful in any gender identity camp, but #MeToo doesn’t have to lead to a war between men and women, co-founder and CEO of the STI testing app Biem and sexual confidence educator Bryan Stacy says.
Stacy was one of the hosts of January’s workshop “I’m a Straight Male. Now What?” stemming from the shock the majority of men felt when they heard the horrific stories from accusers of men like Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer.
“The first [workshop] was just for recognition of what was happening and what the movement is and a part of it was started with these very extreme stories,” Stacy told NSFW.
“I’m a Straight Male. Now What?” was a workshop for humans who identify as men. Sex educator Lola Jean sat in and stayed quiet, giving the men who attended a safe space to talk, question and listen.
Lola Jean will have a more active role in the second workshop “But I’m One of the Good Guys,” taking place on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Alchemical Studios, 104 West 14th St. in Manhattan. Tickets for the penis-only event are available on Eventbrite.
Are you shocked the challenges between men and women weren’t solved in one evening? Neither are we and neither were the hosts. Stacy told NSFW the men at “I’m a Straight Male. Now What?” started to wonder if they were the Aziz Ansaris of the world. Did they fall asleep while the rules changed?
“That gray area is where I think about 90 percent of men operate under the idea that maybe it wasn’t right, but in a lot of instances [sexual misconduct] was socially acceptable,” Stacy explained before recounting a story from his past.
Stacy said that at the time he, along with two female colleagues and another man, were chatting at lunch and the topic of self-love arose. One woman said “self-love” time to her was getting a massage or going for a run. The second man told her to let him know the next time she gives herself self-love, because he wants to watch.
Stacy said it felt like sexual harassment to him, and he regrets not speaking up. In the ‘80s or ‘90s, the man’s comment would have been brushed off with a “that guy’s a dick,” but what was just an asshole comment is now being seen for what it is: sexual harassment.
“And that’s a good thing,” Stacy said.
So, what about the guys who aren’t Weinstein or Lauer or Bill Cosby or Louis C.K.? Are there cues that men are missing, and what responsibilities do women have to ensure their signals are being read?
“And this is where if we can’t get our language straight together, then [men and women are] going to have a really hard time operating,” Stacy said, adding that one of the takeaways from the first workshop was figuring out how to communicate.
Sure, it isn’t very sexy to stop and say, “Can I touch your arm now?” followed by “Can I kiss your neck now?” but asking is OK, Stacy said. Men don’t always have to be the dominant person in the experience.
By the way, asking if you can do that to her there can be very sexy. Make asking for consent part of playtime.
Another favorite of Stacy’s is what he calls “The Pause.”
“I think that’s kind of the main theme here when men jump in and women constantly have to fend them off,” Stacy continued. “Instead of stating your honest intentions and then pausing and letting her reaction happen… The example we used in the group was if you’re at a bar talking to a girl and you want to kiss her, simply state it. Say to her ‘I want to kiss you now.’ Then pause.”
The pause allows the woman time to react physically or verbally.
Another example from the bar scene scenario, Stacy told NSFW, is walking up to woman with the intent that you want to have sex with her.
“As soon as you get rejected, there’s no point in sticking around. I can just leave,” Stacy continued. “So that leaves the woman thinking, ‘OK, another asshole I had to reject.’ So one of the things we talked about, as guys, truly, what is our honest intention? Is it to have sex or is it to connect?
“And if we go in with this honest feeling of ‘I want to connect with another human’ — whether that connection is a 30-second conversation or a life of happiness and marriage — and they didn’t want to connect?
“That’s totally fine. And what if then, we thanked the woman for saying ‘no?’”
Imagine walking up to a woman at a bar. You introduce yourself and she says “no.” It’s kind of a “crazy scenario,” Stacy said, but a genuine “thank you” can make the focus your intent. Then, communication becomes clearer as does the sense that the rejection isn’t personal. She just doesn’t want to connect.
And you might just stun her with your manners.
A question that heated up the conversion at the first workshop was “What do [men] need from women?” Stacy said the guys generally agreed that it would be helpful if women would be clear about their boundaries and speak up when a line is crossed — but come from a place of compassion rather than combativeness.
“I think women have been constantly beat down over the years dealing with guys with the wrong intent and they’ve become defensive and they react,” Stacy said, adding that the reaction is completely understandable.
Ladies, we might want to scream every time we get ghosted and take it out on the next schmuck who tries to get into our pants, but we need to take a step back. It might feel good to tell the man at the laundromat to “fuck off,” but if guys are willing to rethink the way they operate, we need to give them a safe place to ask questions and to at least try to be “one of the good guys.”
This year could be the year of the empowered woman as well as the year men and women help each other, teach each other and listen to each other. Maybe 2019 will be the year of the empowered man who leads by example and speaks up when he sees other men acting so 2017.