Planet Waves
Originally published: New York, Feb. 1, 2018 | Return to Main Directory of Articles
Reader Responses to 'Take a Step Back'

Dear Friend and Reader:

In last week's edition, called Take a Step Back, I did my best to explore the different angles of what aspires to be a feminist awakening. I've heard that saying "we must also protect boys" is an allegedly false equivalency to "we must stop the abuse of girls." To me it seems more like an actual equivalency than a false one, and I asked my readers to explain this to me in language that a child can understand.

Planet Waves
Ange from Book of Blue, Paris sessions, by Eric Francis.
My position is that we must protect the vulnerable, period. While we have this issue in front of us, we must address the whole thing, all at once; meaning, the abuse of female and male people. This seems sensible enough. Also, if most aggressors are men, we could be more curious how they came to be that way.

I was curious what reasoning would come back -- and, as you'll read, many colors of the rainbow came out. The emails came in over the following four or five days. We've included them all. Few were in language that a child or teenager could understand, which is my reference point for what an adult can comprehend and act on. This is lengthy; we've lightened up the text with illustrations by the incomparable Lucinda Abra, magus of mixed media.

I noticed something: not a single man replied. Not one. While we have a majority of female readers, there are definitely men in the audience. One third of those who clicked on the article on Facebook were men.

To me, this is a testimony to how afraid men are to enter this discussion. If they cannot enter it at Planet Waves, where exactly would they feel safe? That may be a bigger question than we recognize.

One of my Facebook correspondents recently commented, "I'd also like to say that it is generally VERY hard to discuss sexual needs with men. The vast majority of the times I have done that, the men have gotten offended or defensive and then shut down." I have noticed this as well.

Guys -- this is not helping you, or helping anyone. It's time to gather some courage, open up, listen, and speak. Sex is communication. To be peaceful, it requires an extended dialog. Sex, to be safe and pleasurable for everyone, requires vulnerability. It's time to open up.

Sexual Politics versus Sexuality

Before we dive into this material, I want to point out something that's usually overlooked. It seems that the only discussion of sex in the 21st century happens in a political context. Can you think of many examples where politics are out of the picture? Issues such as abortion and birth control rights, sex education, transgender rights, gay and lesbian marriage, abstinence indoctrination, feminism, and, in our current moment, sexual abuse and harassment, are all cast in a political frame -- and it would seem, no other.

In that context, they are polarized, and other pre-existing viewpoints are grafted on. Much of politics today is driven by fundamentalist Christianity, so moralistic views enter. The blend of fundamentalist religion and politics is so toxic that the Founders separated church and state not once but twice in the Constitution.

My point is, we don't really know what it's like to have a public dialog about sex or sexuality, in any form, that is not politicized; and this translates into the personal realm as well.

Politics, said Dr. Wilhelm Reich, is the most dysfunctional realm of human interaction. Nearly everyone in political power is not only damaged sexually but using that damage as a weapon on the population.

I am deeply concerned that the level of sexual literacy is next to zero. By sexual literacy I don't mean views on gender issues -- I mean the actual biology and emotional reality of actual sex.

Planet Waves
Onyx from Book of Blue, New York sessions, photo by Eric Francis.
People are debating an issue with little actual information. We are trying to discuss what is aberrant or abnormal with little or no concept of what is normal. The subject of sex, and sex itself, terrifies and disgusts many people. Combined with an environment of illiteracy, this is unlikely to lead someplace positive.

We need more people who care to find out what sex is about, and to be bold about exploring and describing what sex is about, for them. Not sexual issues: sex, per se. 

In the spirit of furthering the conversation in productive ways, I want to offer three resources.  Okay, a preview, then three. The preview is a story from when I was a presenter at the Northwest Herbal Faire in Bellingham, Washington, a few years ago. It's evidence of what happens when you open up the space and invite adults to have an adult conversation about sex. It's called Cunnilingus and Clover.

Of my original three, first is Yogi Slut, my nascent sexuality resources page (and soon to be tantric workshop, with links to many useful places); the second is from the Planet Waves archives, called It's Not About Sex, It's About Self; and the third is my own personal diary of my sexual exploration, called Book of Blue. This contains graphic, "adult" content and is intended for adult readers. Book of Blue is based on the idea that to understand sex and the inner reality of gender, we must first understand masturbation. That is not as simple as it seems. Sexuality shorn of romance, relationship ideals and conducted with the conscious intention of calling in projections reveals many facets of consciousness that otherwise might remain concealed.

In 2009, I was invited to present Book of Blue as a faculty member of the American Psychological Association (APA) conference in Toronto. Here is my original introduction to the project, as published on the pages of Planet Waves.

That all said, here are your responses to the "false equivalency" question. Thank you to everyone who participated, and all who wanted to but for whatever reason, could not. Thank you to the eminently literate Amy Elliott, Victoria Emory and Amanda Painter for compiling and proofreading the essays below.

With love,

PS -- Amanda has covered the astrology this week, in the SKY section, below your responses.

PPS -- This week's Planet Waves FM includes an interview with Rachel Marco-Havens on these same subject matters. Next week, my guest will be Kasia Urbaniak, making her third appearance on Planet Waves FM, in what is a truly amazing interview about women's voices and women's power. It's already recorded, and will be on the live broadcast Sunday night at 10 on Radio Kingston.

In Your Own Words

Just a thought about why it's important to focus on girls and women. Across the world, the epidemic of sexual violence against women in our time and over time has been overlooked. The me too movement is a movement that arose to specifically shine the light on violence against women. It is not to say that sexual violence against men or boys is not important -- at all. (Of course sexual violence of all kinds needs addressing.) And...there is a system of male privilege and patriarchy that has supported and condoned and overlooked sexual violence against women -- and we need to shine a light, very specifically, on this. And men, benefit from the dominant culture system of male privilege (just as I as a white woman benefit from a system of white supremacy -- regardless of my individual acts and behaviors.)

Planet Waves
"Affirmation," by Lucinda Abra.
I am not saying it is equivalent -- but for me there is a parallel with Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter movements. Black Lives Matter shines the light on the specific pain, suffering, and oppression that black people face in a white supremacist society -- not to imply that violence against anyone shouldn't be dealt with. But when we have systems of oppression that are based on privilege that orients around sex, gender, race, and sexual orientation -- to name a few -- it seems important to me that we take time to speak to the systems of privilege -- in this case the male privilege in the world -- and the patriarchal systems that allow, condone, create the situations where women are disproportionately subject to sexual violence and harassment.

And, I am a firm believer and initiator in cross-gender healing -- and not adhering to the binary.

Another interesting note -- Paul Hawken, in his recent book, Drawdown -- found that the number one intervention that makes a difference for climate change -- is investing in girls and women. As a climate change intervention! This is not to say that boys and men are not important (and gender fluid and trans folks) -- only that investing in female and female identifying people -- can radically make a difference -- because it interrupts the current dominant culture system of exploitation and poverty and lack of health care, etc.

My heart felt and respectfully offered heart stream.

And, I love your work, by the way -- thank you for all you do.

It makes no sense to teach consent unless we first teach sexual pleasure. The scandals are painfully ripping off the scabs, finally exposing the systemic rape of women and children in our patriarchal war culture. It may take years to process and balance this, especially since there's no sex education, no end to wars or religion.

Pope Frank is still accusing victims of lying as we still have little knowledge of how deep the Spotlight scandal goes.

A friend's grandfather used to say ya can't trust a Protestant with a girl and can't trust a Catholic with a boy. I've recently watched more than a few shows of abused boys who became serial killers. It pains me to think of what will become of intimacy if we don't get past the fear of each other and bring love and light to the fore.

This may be useful. Lundy Bancroft works with abusive men. The content page in the preview of his book on Amazon is clickable. In chapter 13 The Making of an Abusive Man he covers the factors that create the abusive goes back to family, religion, the legal system, etc. (you can't access all the pages, but you can get an idea of what he's focusing on)

He also has a website with some articles. This series may be helpful... A Guide for Men Who are Serious About Changing Part 1 | Part 2

The focus is on having both partners in a relationship work together...brings more specifics to what Eric is saying about women leading the way. The men also have to be able to recognize that they need to change and be willing to do the work.

I've spent decades studying the dynamics of master/slave relationships, and here's what I've learned: power pulls all attention to itself and knows nothing of those who supply it. Ask any slave about her master, and she'll tell you more than the master knows about himself, but ask any master about his slaves...nothing. Even those he can call by name are usually a blank mystery because the master doesn't have to care about their thoughts and dreams. The reason for that has less to do with devotion than reality -- if you don't know what your master wants and needs better than the master himself knows, you could die. It's a matter of survival.

A smart slave studies the master and learns how to avoid punishment and please him in order to live, possibly gain favor, perhaps even get to keep the family in tact with a minimum of torment. Power of the patriarchy gives men the position of masters over women. Power and privilege look a lot different to those who don't have it as compared to those who do. Men have it. Women don't. That's changing, but only now, since I was born in 1947.

Planet Waves
"Aria," by Lucinda Abra.
Privilege is inevitably blind, and men are blind to their power privileges through the agency of patriarchy.

Even the most altruistic and well intentioned male plutocrat is to some extent oblivious to the cost others pay for those privileges, thinking themselves the sole creators of their deserved good fortune. This was the defining characteristic of GWBush when he was at Yale.

Garry Trudeau, the cartoonist (Doonesbury) was a dorm mate of GW's and when asked by Charlie Rose to describe what 43 was like at that time, Trudeau declined to answer directly, but recounted an all-night bull session in one of the dorm rooms when GW was present. The subject was noblesse oblige. They were brainstorming about contributions each Yalie planned to make to society upon graduation, ways they would give back, whereupon GW responded with one word: Why?

George Bush now lives in Preston Hollow, my childhood neighborhood in north Dallas, where H. Ross Perot lived two houses down from us on Linden Lane. GW is a year older than me, shy a day. Our fathers chased oil in west Texas at the same time, so he and I attended Midland elementary school together, although I don't remember meeting him. But I did know his type, dated dozens of them, so when he was running for president on that phony Texas charismachismo, I tried to warn everyone I could. His reign was the middle stretch of the grand unraveling of patriarchy, initiated by the avuncular "good daddy," Reagan, and now being played to the hilt by pussy-grabbing "bad daddy," Donald Trump.

Which brings us to your question -- is it false equivalency to compare the sexual abuse boys suffer in comparison to girls, and I took you to mean, childhood sexual assault against boys by priests and such? Yes, it is a false equivalency. That's because when little boys grow up, they still get to become masters; when little girls grow up, they become little women. The only exception to the false equivalency is little boys who are ruined by their experience -- who are either diverted into homosexuality as opposed to being genetically gay, become psychologically disordered, fall into self-destructive drug abuse and/or suicide as a result of their experiences. It has been suggested that boys are psychologically more vulnerable and therefore suffer deeper damage than abused girls who endure the same circumstances, but I've not seen the data supporting it nor any studies to back it. If this imbalance between the basic psychological strength of the genders is a fact, then it could be argued that the variance offsets other factors and nudges the ratio closer to even.

The power relationship between men and women has been distorted for so long, even an enlightened egalitarian feminist like you can have a hard time seeing it. The leitmotif of patriarchy is so deeply imprinted on our amygdalas that it's mostly invisible to those who do not enjoy its benefits. It is known extensively, however, by those who suffer its injustices. Like trying to see the color of your own can't do it, not without a mirror. No more than I can imagine truly what it's like to grow up in colored skin. You can feel for people of color and their struggle, even fight on their behalf and sacrifice yourself for them, but you'll never really know how much more you have been advanced in your life because your parents were not of color in America. Just so, you'll never know what it's like to be a woman.

Planet Waves
"Grace of Art," by Lucinda Abra.
I don't mean to imply that sexual abuse of little boys is any less reprehensible than abuse of little girls, but the scale is not comparable.

I do not know a grown woman who has not been the victim of unwanted sexual attention at some time or other, but we all know plenty of men who have never had the problem. The disadvantages for little girls vis-a-vis little boys in defending (or even feeling they are allowed to defend) themselves against sexual assaults are far greater in number for girls, though the quality of suffering may be nearer to comparable. Reasons range from comparative physical strength to ego strength to the social presumption of female submission that little boys just don't have to deal with unless they're bullied, and only then if they're bullied with violent sex.

Thank you for not being one of those guys who wants to equate the crushing experience of trying to get laid on a Friday night (and being turned down) to the experience of being abused. I was eight years old the first time an old man fingered me, under water, while our families were vacationing together. He was the father of my parents' best friends, and the local banker. I never told anyone. I didn't even know it was okay to be angry, I just got away from him as quickly as I could without hurting his feelings. I think a little boy would more likely feel entitled to resist; not a little girl, not back then.

It never stops for us, either. I was 64 years old and was still groped by an old golf pro at my last job, and it was a management position. I doubt the douchebag has had any female grope him in the past 30 years without being forced or paid. Women in positions of power are usually so anxious to do well, keep their jobs and please the right people that they have little time to amuse themselves by making underlings squirm. That's the stuff of silly fantasy movies like 9 to 5.

I do not personally know a single woman who harbors revenge fantasies against men, despite all the perps who abused them, but then I tend to associate with serious-minded activists and artists, social workers and writers. Angry women are out there, I'm sure, I just don't happen to know any. The fear guys seem to have incubating with respect to Me Too is ludicrous to us, just as, I'm sure, black South Africans were too busy just trying to stay alive to plot the torturous revenge against Afrikaners that fueled the paranoia that kept apartheid in place way too long. That guilt-laden fear of reprisal was only partially assuaged by the Truth and Reconciliation campaign; tensions still remain. Some white South Africans came here for that reason. Where will the men who fear a female uprising go? We have to work this out.

In closing... This quote was in the preface to a thin volume by Eric Frohm that I read my freshman year in college. I didn't know it would become an anthem in my life, but there you are. We never know.

"He who knows nothing, loves nothing.
He who can do nothing understands nothing.
He who understands nothing is worthless.
But he who understands also loves, notices sees...
The more knowledge is inherent in a thing, the greater the love.
Anyone who imagines that all fruits ripen at the same time as the strawberries
knows nothing about grapes."
-- Paracelsus

With great admiration and thanks for your work.

I agree with about 85% of your me too commentary.

It is refreshing actually to find that you articulated so much of what I have been (controversially) expressing to friends. However, the 15% I think you are missing (in terms a kid can understand) is that most men can physically overpower women; if a man decides to kill a woman, he has a good chance of succeeding.

Generally, women do not believe we can defend ourselves physically if we need to.

Television and film -- our whole lives since childhood -- depict the bad man killing a woman as she flees. This visual is embedded in our psyche and becomes a belief system.

We believe we can be murdered, so we freeze, lose our voice, and feel the need to comply to save our lives.

Hi there-
It feels presumptuous of me to invade your inbox with my thoughts since you always make such strong, intellectually and emotionally rigorous arguments in your articles. You think things through so deeply and offer your readers an honest lens into your process of reasoning. But your invitation was kindly and genuinely offered, so here I am.

The way I see the #MeToo movement as differentiating from the sexual abuse of children and men is that we view the latter as perverted, disgusting, and rare but we view harassment of women as normal, expected and common. That, in my view, is where there is no equivalence.

Planet Waves
"In the Beginning," by Lucinda Abra.
We don't say about abused men and kids, "they were asking for it." I think. Anyway, I hope not! With the Roman Catholic church, the travesty was not only in the behavior of the priests but also the lengths to which the church went in order to hide and cover it. Conversely, everyone knows about "the casting couch." The former is a scandal, the latter is business as usual.

Horror and outcry vs. nudge-nudge wink-wink say no more. Front page news vs. lighten up, honey, can't you take a joke? It all boils down to expectations plus gender. If you're a man or child, you should expect it won't happen to you and if it does you can expect an outraged response. If you're a woman, you should expect it WILL happen to you (not if, but when) and whether or not anyone is outraged will depend entirely upon where you were, what you were wearing, and how well you know the person who did it to you. I don't see an equivalence there.

I think of #MeToo as less about the sexual component and more about the fact that women are just supposed to shut up and put up. Just like we're supposed to get paid less and get Mommy Tracked and look pretty and show off our bodies (but expect to be called a slut for doing so), etc. Originally, I thought of #MeToo as pertaining to workplace harassment, though it seems to be growing into something much broader than that and, as you point out, is in danger of becoming an outcry against any and all unwanted sexual advances. You're right to warn that we could head in that direction, but I think that would be missing the main point of the women who employed the hashtag in response to the Harvey Weinstein story in the New York Times. That was a ground-breaking shift, without question. Everyone knew it was going on, warned each other about it even! But suddenly what was once OK is now no longer OK. Has sexual harassment and abuse of children and men ever been OK and expected (in modern Western society)?

There's no false equivalency between male and female sexual abuse. Both are unacceptable. And I fervently hope the #MeToo movement leads us onto the path of healthy communication and sexual encounters, about which you write so wonderfully. I want to thank you for that. As my daughter's 14th birthday approaches, I'm using much of what I've learned from you to help her understand that it's perfectly fine to indicate her attraction to another person but she has to honor the feelings of those with whom she interacts. I hope she gets to be an adult in a world where both "yes" and "no" are acceptable replies to honest, open inquiries from interested sexual partners. And where she never has her own #MeToo stories about her jobs.

Thanks for reading (if you made it this far).

Dear Eric,
I am @metoo and I am also uncomfortable with a certain tenor of this reckoning.
My experience altered my life's work. I could not stay in academia knowing that everyone knew of the behavior of a certain archaeology professor in the field. Yes, first-hand knowledge.
When a predator chooses you -- -- -- you sure as hell don't feel special.
It was understood that I must put up with the peccadillos of brilliant (predatory) men.
I left academia and that solution was harmful to me. I saw myself as brave at the time.
My leaving=a giant fuck you.
But who was hurt?
This prof is still working!

"The shrill, sick irony of this scenario is that we've purged ourselves of a bunch of creepy entertainers and alleged newscasters, the Olympic gymnastics team doctor and a bunch of other people whose behavior was well known, sometimes for decades. But someone who bragged about committing sexual assault received a majority of white women's votes, and is still in power. That deserves a reckoning."

I wish I could project these words on the White House and every civic building in the US for a week and then regroup.

Hi Eric,

I am writing in response to your Take a step back article. In that article you welcomed thoughts on supporting you in understanding your difficulty in equating the sexual abuse/assault that girls/women suffer to that boys/men suffer. To the degree of the pain involved in such suffering I do not think there is a difference. If there is one thing that I have learned in my own traumatic and painful life has taught me, is that to the degree that we are all human beings, the same goes with our pain. Pain is pain, whether you're black or white, girl or boy.

Planet Waves
"Thought Nap," by Lucinda Abra.
However, when it comes to the topic of sexual abuse/assault, it isn't so black and white. For starters, the scales are not equal, sexual assault, abuse or rape are significantly more common for women than for men.

Then you have the obvious fact, that women compared to men have always been and still are second class citizens. We have had to fight for the right to vote, to work in certain fields and earn positions of power that have predominantly to this day belong to men. Society, cultural and familial views on women are still antiquated.

We have been put in positions where we've had to sacrifice things like getting the job because of your breast size and just be grateful we're getting the job. Or have that drink with the horny co-worker to show that we can hang with the best of them. Or get home late and not make it home in time for dinner and homework to show that our personal responsibilities don't impact our abilities at work.

When you take all of the above, which I know you're aware of, it most obviously puts women in positions where we are more susceptible to this type of abuse, it is more common and more or the "norm". Of course these conversations are shifting, but it's still where we live as a whole. We can act like women have come a long way and in some ways we may have. However, at 42, I still cover my bubble butt when I go out, I still cringe at the the thought the man I'm having a conversation with at work is thinking what it would be like to bend me over my desk. And I'm a Pisces, I can smell these thoughts a mile away and it happens all of the time.

Men are born with a power by the mere fact that they are men. I'm not saying it cannot happen to them, but women are not born or seen as powerful, without it having to be proven in some way. Otherwise, we just merely exist to serve whatever purpose men, families, societies or cultures deem fit. Men didn't have to fight for the things women have historically fought for and by that mere fact I believe, it is a false equivalency that the abuse is equal.

I hope I made sense.

Hi Eric!

It has been a while...

I just read your article on the #MeToo Movement and wanted to share with you what I am writing in my Leo Eclipse Message, which includes some insight on it.

I am forwarding the beginning of the first draft of it so that the information will be in context. There is much more but I wanted to share this part with you since we have also shared our healing journey in this regard.

Love to you as always.

(excerpt from attachment:) The North Node is now Transiting Leo and the South Node is Transiting Aquarius. With this upcoming Eclipse, the Moon will be in Leo and the Sun will be in Aquarius. Leo Rules the Love expressed through the Heart (Compassion and Forgiveness), and Aquarius Rules the Wisdom expressed through the Head (Knowing and Understanding). They need to work Cooperatively together to Create Harmony.

We have been opening the Thymus Gland (Higher Heart) and opening the Pineal Gland (Higher Intellect), then attuning them together. This is a part of creating Dynamic Balance between Higher Love (Feminine) with Higher Wisdom (Masculine), which is what we are meant to achieve during this Lunar Node Polarity Cycle of Leo/Aquarius.

The Thymus Gland and Chakra and the Pineal Gland and Chakra are being Reactivated, Realigned, and Resynchronized with each other at this Stage of Evolutionary Development in the Human Body and Chakra System. The more we can bring the Masculine Energy into Equanimity with the Feminine Energy within ourselves and express it in our external lives, the more smoothly Life will Flow as we Integrate and Implement these Energies.

"(Leo and Aquarius) are about our inner "vertical integrity," that is, living true to self, openly on the world stage. This means walking in confidence and with self-respect, aligned with the truth in our hearts, in thought, word, and deed. (Leo) Our personal integrity, our inner vertical attunement, must precede any horizontal, humanitarian participation in the world (Aquarian). Without this inner integrity we become self-sacrificing, entrapped in a sympathetic resonance of drama, giving self away at the cost of our hearts' truth. This perpetuates discord and dysfunction for self and for others because we are simply living a lie."

"Only by living from our personal integrity and true to heart do we provide opportunity for others to also stand in their integrity and live their truth. On the other side of coin, without the maturity of acknowledging the Aquarian polarity, we can become ego-driven, where it is all about "I" without caring or concern for others...It impels us to live in the confidence and nobleness of the Lion, to live true to our soul's promise, to break trail into new vistas of consciousness and human experience, and to visualize and coalesce a new reality for our lives."

I think for a male child to be raped and assaulted by a man, especially a priest, wouldn't the child be confused about his identity and sexuality at a time, when both had not been formed as yet? It is a betrayal of trust of the man, who the child looks up to and often want to be as they grow up. I can only speak from a Mother's point of view. No matter what Age all Children must be protected from being violated and as a human right, we as adults, must allow them to have a childhood free from interference and to ensure they grow up healthy in mind body spirit. Adults have let children down badly, its no wonder children bear the suffering in the world. It's important to have this conversation so there is a stop put the abuse and neglect. Maybe it's time for parent training before children are even born because they are our future in the world. Life skills and mindfulness need to be part of education in primary school to prepare children for community life outside of the home. Save the children from suffering and heal the world. This is where world Peace will come its starts with protection of children...

I have a lot to say, I won't say it all here, but...there's a difference in the way a #metoo is performed. Speech is performed, not delivered in standardized units of text. In dialogue I've experienced a #metoo from a man in two different ways. As a "yes, and men" and a "but, men" One is affirming and additive, the other oppositional. I experienced the post you wrote this week teetering toward the "but men" side of things. A "but, men" focus has a way of maintaining a status quo of men's narratives as the center, everything else to the periphery. As a woman on the receiving end of a "but, men" disclosure, it feels like being silenced, women's pain being minimized, yet again, regardless of the actual intention of the speech.

Planet Waves
"King of Rods," by Lucinda Abra.
Specifically in your article: "Other times, the alleged violation is immature, inconsiderate but comparatively harmless behavior."

I'm curious to know how you define harmless, comparatively.

I think the answer is related to the question that precedes it relating the USAG case. "How exactly did this go on for a generation, with so many people of power and influence watching?" Defining witnessed behavior as "relatively minor" in the grand scheme of things. Institutions with a lot to lose are great at this game. So are victims of sexual violence. It's how the stories emerge initially -- minimized, especially in the moment directly after the violation, "it could have been worse, I'll be fine, at least I'm still alive with no major physical injuries, there was no penetration, the penetration was only a finger, it was only once, etc." to convince themselves of their relative safety and the decency both of the perpetrator and anyone that knew, but did nothing.

The Nassar case is especially informative for the structural abuse it calls out and also b/c this man still feels he did nothing wrong. It was in his sentencing statement. He feels he is the victim, not the women. The women just misunderstood the situation, all 190+ of them and the AG and the judge. This turn-around, "men are the real victims" is how I've felt attempting to discuss #metoo publicly and why I think a #metoo from a man can sometimes feel problematic.

No violation, no matter it's grade of harm or the sex of the speaker, warrants silence. That's the whole point of the movement, in it's beginning phases, speaking what was considered unspeakable only a few months ago. The issue for me is in the hearing. Whose voices get to be heard? Most women I know do not exclude men, it's about all of us breaking silence. Where the gender divide becomes problematic is when a #metoo from a man is used to minimize the stories women are just now gathering the courage to speak. a #metoo that is a "but" rather than an "and."

I've experienced both types of disclosures in group settings. The "but men" version becomes oppositional or feels like being told to calm down. Which if we're going to retreat to victorian times here (I'm not a fan of Ms. Merkin's piece) let's talk about how these framings still paint women in the role of hysteric, or "angel of the house." Women can internalize the patriarchy. Which by the way does not paint all men as evil!

None of us wrote the rules of patriarchy, we're all subject to caricatures of humanity that serve a capitalist power-structure. Patriarchy restricts men and women. The "and men" version acknowledges the mutual restriction. It is a #metoo that hears women's pain as valid, is borne of empathy, because yeah, you've been on the end of violation as well and how can we *join together* to end this madness. We're all losing under this system. For internet/celebrity reference, Terry Crews is an example of an "and" disclosure.

I'll end with two articles: Jia Talentino's eloquent response to the Merkin article, and another piece on the spectrum of pleasure, pain, and gender.

Open to dialogue.

Hi and thanks for what you do, and thanks for this question!

I write as you know, from the point of view of a west coast (las vegas/davis ca / portland or) usa person of about your age, who lives in Japan... We just had a horrible sexual harassment seminar in the workplace in which the comments included the observation that the problem originates with (the most fundamental problem, apparently, of) men and women working together! This is while the central government is struggling to get more women in the workplace, along with seniors, to fill the lesser jobs. Meanwhile as a midlife single, it's more a problem of avoiding married guys who are just after sex on the side (and sex in itself is great but the potential scandal will mainly affect the woman) or dealing with guys who are single but missed the 'sell by date,' and are convinced they cannot couple up/marry. Very oppositional, yes?

Sorry if this is off base from your question, but this was on my mind.


What I didn't see in this article was a focus on the true origin of all of us who experience a #MeToo event (events). I don't think it's about sex because sex is perverted into something more basic. I do think there are gender issues, but even those are not fundamentally about sexual behavior.

I believe this is about violation of trust and respect (you mentioned these), but mostly about an assault (or more likely a series of assaults) by a person in power. The effort is to control and compromise the "victim." In many cases the victim may not know they are a victim (especially children) because they are complying with what they perceive as norms of behavior. The assault isn't always physical (or maybe doesn't progress to physical). And the assaulter is acting from a psychologically damaged place, but that's another discussion.

In my early thirties I started to actualize the ambition and success that my first-born Aries sun, Leo ascendant, Taurus moon was propelling me toward in every aspect of my life. (Just to give you perspective on my tendencies.)

I was married to my best friend, had my first child and had worked my way up to Executive Director of a large (mostly male) membership organization. I was "living my vision" in the terminology of the time. I had excellent and productive relationships with the membership and leadership until a well-known "Italian stallion" became president-elect (no ethnic disparagement meant, just how he was described by his colleagues). He was attractive, engaging and popular among his peers. But in his new role, he started engaging in demeaning public behavior (to keep me in my place) and made very subtle but real inappropriate advances. It became intolerable after about a year of putdowns about strategy, policy initiatives, and even where I sat at the table, so I left the organization. But didn't leave the industry and continued to be successful.

So, I think this whole discussion is off base when it focuses on sexual behavior rather than the underlying power and control issues.

P.S. And please, reconsider this statement: "If this is some foreshadowing of 'the future is female,' no thanks -- I'll stick to patriarchy. At least there, one has a right to face and question one's accuser." We have more to offer than this implies.
Monthly Horoscopes and Publishing Schedule Notes

We published your extended monthly horoscopes for February on Thursday, Jan. 25. Your extended monthly horoscopes for January were published on Thursday, Dec. 21. Please note: we normally publish the extended monthly horoscope on the first Friday after the Sun has entered a new sign.
Planet Waves
Planet Waves Weekly Horoscope for Feb. 1, 2018, #1187 | By Amy Elliott
Aries (March 20-April 19) -- In your quest to get to the holy grail of your present ambition, whatever that may be, you may find yourself being dogged by something unresolved from the past, which could be causing you to hinder yourself. If this idea feels apt, look for previous moments in your life when you've acted the same way, or sensed the same emotions. Friends may help you distinguish the pattern if you're unclear. Understand what got you to this point, and then seek out a way to change the status quo. Once that's done, you'll likely be able to aim yourself much more easily toward your target, and fly right at it. -- by Amy Elliott. For your Eric Francis horoscope this week, please see this link.
Eric is working busily on the 2018 Planet Waves annual edition, The Art of Becoming, which we expect to publish within the next two weeks. Don't forget to watch his introductory video. You may pre-order all 12 signs here (recommended) or choose your individual signs here.
Taurus (April 19-May 20) -- You seem anxious to press ahead with your next career-related moves. If you're looking for specific signs of your progress, however, stop and check in with your expectations. What do they actually mean? A particular goal is a useful way of gauging how far you've come, certainly; but it appears you're now being challenged to consider whether the markers you've set reflect the spirit of what you're striving for, or whether you're letting insecurities get the better of you. Your most important aims are decidedly a cut above mere point-scoring. Treat them with the respect they -- and you -- deserve. -- by Amy Elliott. For your Eric Francis horoscope this week, please see this link.
Eric is working busily on the 2018 Planet Waves annual edition, The Art of Becoming, which we expect to publish within the next two weeks. Don't forget to watch his introductory video. You may pre-order all 12 signs here (recommended) or choose your individual signs here.
Gemini (May 20-June 21) -- Recent events may be causing you to review certain aspects of a philosophical or spiritual belief system; alternatively, you may have come across some new ideas. While these beliefs are largely a matter of what makes sense to you, you can apply some scrutiny; one useful tool is to consider how the principles involved actually operate in the world, and the effect they might have through your actions. You could also consider whether you'd be open to communicating certain ideas with others. It's possible that you're on to something important; the only real way to find out if that's true, however, is to test it. -- by Amy Elliott. For your Eric Francis horoscope this week, please see this link.
Eric is working busily on the 2018 Planet Waves annual edition, The Art of Becoming, which we expect to publish within the next two weeks. Don't forget to watch his introductory video. You may pre-order all 12 signs here (recommended) or choose your individual signs here.
Cancer (June 21-July 22) -- At this time in your life, you're starting to develop an understanding regarding what you're truly capable of. You seem to need most of your skill, right now, to endure a long stretch of what might appear to be unending work. To an extent, you are indeed relying on your considerable resilience to get through the next couple of weeks; however, you also have a lot still to discover, including something you likely haven't yet put your finger on, which relates to making your processes easier and more efficient. Make a note of any sudden ideas you receive over the next few days. They could be more useful than you know. -- by Amy Elliott. For your Eric Francis horoscope this week, please see this link.
Eric is working busily on the 2018 Planet Waves annual edition, The Art of Becoming, which we expect to publish within the next two weeks. Don't forget to watch his introductory video. You may pre-order all 12 signs here (recommended) or choose your individual signs here.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) -- The impetus of your chart seems peculiarly geared to teaching you about the intricacies of your relationships. You have the opportunity to dive in and truly analyze how you're interacting with your partner(s), and the habitual behavior patterns each of you have developed. In particular, you may be able to see in stark clarity the ways in which you might be projecting onto loved ones, and how they reflect that back to you. Hold space for yourself to understand and process all of this, including how closely it matches with who you really are and what you ultimately want. Then you'll see what, if anything, needs to change. -- by Amy Elliott. For your Eric Francis horoscope this week, please see this link.
Eric is working busily on the 2018 Planet Waves annual edition, The Art of Becoming, which we expect to publish within the next two weeks. Don't forget to watch his introductory video. You may pre-order all 12 signs here (recommended) or choose your individual signs here.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) -- You probably need to be practical and realistic about how quickly you'll meet your goals. Potentially your body or emotions are giving you important information; and you need to pay attention. If you're not quite managing to take adequate care of yourself, specifically, now is the time to address that. For starters, are you eating properly, moving around and getting enough sleep? You might also ask yourself whether you're truly enjoying your present daily life and habits. This might surprise you, but that is a perfectly reasonable thing to want. You can even make changes to help you get there. It's allowed. -- by Amy Elliott. For your Eric Francis horoscope this week, please see this link.
Eric is working busily on the 2018 Planet Waves annual edition, The Art of Becoming, which we expect to publish within the next two weeks. Don't forget to watch his introductory video. You may pre-order all 12 signs here (recommended) or choose your individual signs here.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) -- Here's the thing about hopes and dreams: the very best ones are all yours, and not dependent on other people's praise or approval. Your charts describe you, on the one hand, needing to wrestle off a past influence that might be causing you to doubt yourself unduly; and on the other, pushing yourself rather harder or faster than you're genuinely comfortable with, almost as a dare. If you look at these two seeming polarities more closely, you may find that they are actually the same thing. Either way, this is about eliminating the pressures others impose on you, and determining to please yourself and yourself only. -- by Amy Elliott. For your Eric Francis horoscope this week, please see this link.
Eric is working busily on the 2018 Planet Waves annual edition, The Art of Becoming, which we expect to publish within the next two weeks. Don't forget to watch his introductory video. You may pre-order all 12 signs here (recommended) or choose your individual signs here.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) -- It's unlikely you're ever going to underestimate the value of feeling secure. However, this week it wouldn't hurt to take a proactive role in applying that concept to your surroundings. This isn't about protecting your home from the outside world, but rather relates to establishing emotional comfort and a space to which you can retreat; even if only in one room. Consider that once you've sorted out this facet of your life, it will likely ease your mind; and you can then get on with the business of growing and becoming. The more flexible and sturdy the springboard, after all, the higher you can leap. -- by Amy Elliott. For your Eric Francis horoscope this week, please see this link.
Eric is working busily on the 2018 Planet Waves annual edition, The Art of Becoming, which we expect to publish within the next two weeks. Don't forget to watch his introductory video. You may pre-order all 12 signs here (recommended) or choose your individual signs here.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) -- The mystery of you isn't likely to be figured out through a big, sudden realization in which all of the answers somehow fit into place. Learning about ourselves is usually a process, and the clues are arguably found mainly through being in real situations and discovering how we feel and act. If you remain observant this week, you might identify a pattern of how you behave toward relatives or people in your community, which could tell you something potentially quite important about who you are and what you really think. Don't fear this discovery: the last thing you need is to hide, or hide from, any component of yourself. -- by Amy Elliott. For your Eric Francis horoscope this week, please see this link.
Eric is working busily on the 2018 Planet Waves annual edition, The Art of Becoming, which we expect to publish within the next two weeks. Don't forget to watch his introductory video. You may pre-order all 12 signs here (recommended) or choose your individual signs here.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) -- The fact is we always have a choice in terms of what to manifest in our lives. Just now you seem torn between trust and fear (or possibly self-confidence and self-doubt, which is really another way of saying the same thing). This may be playing out in a specific decision, but it's likely that something much more fundamental is happening: the choice before you is about who you are, who you want to be, and the guiding ethos of your life going forward. If you're somewhat perplexed, I suggest you consider your present existence and what led up to it, then simply ask yourself: is this honestly enough? -- by Amy Elliott. For your Eric Francis horoscope this week, please see this link.
Eric is working busily on the 2018 Planet Waves annual edition, The Art of Becoming, which we expect to publish within the next two weeks. Don't forget to watch his introductory video. You may pre-order all 12 signs here (recommended) or choose your individual signs here.

Planet Waves

Aquarius Birthdays 2018:
The Aquarius Eclipse Zone -- and a Gift from Us
"Today I was listening to last year's reading and I kept feeling that I needed to get this year's reading; I'm so glad I did. It answered everything, or at least helped me to realize I'm okay and actually very excited."
-- Rhonda Benson
Dear Friend and Reader:

You've just experienced a spectacular "supermoon" and total lunar eclipse in your opposite sign, Leo. Leo is your "relationship sign," and as such also holds information about other sorts of partnerships besides the romantic kind (including those that are not so amicable).

Not only that, but the corresponding partial solar eclipse will occur on Feb. 15 in Aquarius -- making these next couple of weeks a potentially very fertile time for you to shift your life in a new direction. What would you like to see more of in your life in the next 6-12 months? And in what ways can you aim yourself in that direction over the next couple weeks?

Eric will be taking up this auspicious astrology in your upcoming 2018 Aquarius Birthday Reading. He designs these audio meditations to be useful for the entire year, long past your birthday month -- which is perfect, considering that the eclipses take moths to unfold.

He'll also be covering the major-planet sign changes that mark this year, two of which involve your ruling planets (Saturn, which is newly in Capricorn; and Uranus, which enters fellow fixed sign Taurus in May) -- and much more.

You can lock in the lowest price we offer when you pre-order your Aquarius reading; that's two segments of astrology plus a tarot reading for the year for only $33. Note: the price will increase as Eric nears publication of your audio reading.

Why should you get both your Birthday Reading if you're already getting the Art of Becoming annual reading? Mainly because it covers your key astrology in a different, stand-alone format and has its own unique emphasis -- born of the moment when Eric records it, capitalizing on his more intuitive, improvisational skills.

May you celebrate your birthday eclipse season with a sense of potential and empowerment.

Yours & truly,

Amanda Painter

P.S. If you know and love an Aquarian, show them by giving the 2018 Aquarius Birthday Reading as a gift!

P.P.S. If you'd like to review your year and check Eric's accuracy as you head into The Eclipse Zone, please listen to last year's reading, as a gift from Planet Waves.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) -- It's pretty much the prerogative, if not exclusively so, of your sign to say, "I shall be my unique self, and social approval be damned." Yet, considering how much courage this takes, it's not at all surprising if you're tempted, even usually, to placate the more conservative part of you. Right now, though, it would seem you're being challenged to be brave and shine in your full glory. Doing this is likely to boost your self-esteem palpably, however tremulous you might feel about it. Social approval be damned, indeed. Whether or not others express opinions, yours is the only one that really counts. -- by Amy Elliott. For your Eric Francis horoscope this week, please see this link.
Eric is working busily on the 2018 Planet Waves annual edition, The Art of Becoming, which we expect to publish within the next two weeks. Don't forget to watch his introductory video. You may pre-order all 12 signs here (recommended) or choose your individual signs here.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) -- Though you might not be at all inclined this week to listen to your intuition, since doing so could ostensibly slow your progress, it might actually be necessary. If something is making you feel less than fully fit, it'll probably be worth slowing down enough to pay attention and parse what's going on. Chances are, there's something hidden in your psyche that needs drawing out into the light, and it'll likely be a lot easier to deal with now than further down the line. Give yourself permission. You're a whole human being, and you have the right to spend at least a little time looking after your own needs. -- by Amy Elliott. For your Eric Francis horoscope this week, please see this link.
Eric is working busily on the 2018 Planet Waves annual edition, The Art of Becoming, which we expect to publish within the next two weeks. Don't forget to watch his introductory video. You may pre-order all 12 signs here (recommended) or choose your individual signs here.
Planet Waves
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