"No" is seemingly a simple word. But finding that word in the middle of a complicated situation can be quite difficult. The #MeToo movement brave women and victims of sexual assault permission to use their voice; to say "no" and speak up against situations that were wrong. It also has all of us a chance to examine the ways that men and women refer and reconse the actions we've deemed as "normal" or "acceptable."
As light shines on all this darkness there is a huge opportunity to grow; to learn what is healthy, what is unhealthy, and how to find a common ground. There is an opportunity for women to step into their power, reclaim their voice and embrace their femininity. Tantric wisdom provides guidance. It teaches people how to be fully themselves and how to communicate their truth to others. Here are a few tips for applying Tantra in your life during the time of #MeToo.
Tantric Tip 1: Listen to your body
Do you know that gut feeling? Often that feeling is meant to be listened to. Each person has an inner guidance system that is leading him or her towards the right path. Women, however, have often been trained either to not listen to themselves or to be nice at the expense of their feelings. This gets many women into trouble and can lead to situations that are potentially dangerous. That is not to say it is ever her fault if she gets assaulted. However, by listening to her body, she can learn to say "no" early on before a situation escalates. As she refines this listening, she will find herself in more situations that bring her joy and happiness.
Tantric Tip 2: Communicate Clearly
This can be a hard one, especially since a lot of women have been conditioned to avoid confrontation and not speak up. But once she starts listening to her body, she needs to learn to take action and communicate what she wants. In Tantra we call this boundary setting. For example, when a woman is asked for a favor, her initial reaction may be to say, "yes" regardless of how she actually feels. However, when she takes a moment to listen to her body and realizes she's too tired, too stressed, or simply does not want to, it's OK for her to say "no" in this moment. This may seem obvious but too many women override themselves at the expense of another.
Learning to say "no" is an important and empowering tool. This can be done in a gracious way, of course, or a firm tone. And it is essential for women to start learning how to speak up. By setting boundaries, a woman learners to take care of herself first, which allows her to be more available to others in the long run. Speaking up for oneself may feel difficult and hard at first. But with practice saying "no" will become easier and more refined.
Tantric Tip 3: Learn how to navigate with men
Just as women have had their own cultural conditioning, so have men. Many men have been trained from a young age to go after what they want and take pride in their sexual prowess. For example, a boy may come home after his first sexual experience and brag to his father. A girl often shows the need to hide her sexual experiences and would rarely tell her parents. This naturally affects the way men and women relate.
It is easy for a man to say, "Why did not she just say 'no'?" because he has been trained to speak up for himself. It may be hard for him to realize that it is not as simple for a woman.
Rathermore, if his self worth is based on how many sexual encounters he has, it is no wonder that he is seeking this out in his interactions with women. If women understand these motivations it will be easier for them to communicate in a way the man can understand. This is not to condone any abusive behavior. Rather, it is to help open up a dialogue with men so they can better understand how their actions are received.
Through Tantra women can learn how to use their voice, become more self-empowered, and communicate their true wishes; and men can learn to become more conscious of their sexual desires so they can manage them instead of being controlled by them.