Ethics & Consent: How do we do better?Aug 18, 2022
The Short Version:
Our commitment to offering safer spaces. The Tantra Massage Training Code of Conduct and Incident Reporting Form.
The Long Version:
In the last weeks, new waves of allegations of abuse, gaslighting and harm have hit the world of Tantra and Sacred Sexuality. I read the stories and I put my head in my hands and weep. Have we really learned so little about trauma and power dynamics in the years since #metoo?
The field of Tantra and Sacred Sexuality is fraught with challenges. In times of long ago, Tantric initiations were given from teacher to student - one to one - after many months and years of discipline and practice. These days anyone can rock up at a workshop – one to many - and expect to be initiated into the mysteries of existence in a weekend.
When we’re working with sexual energy we are playing with fire. It can be a beautiful and potent awakening when the human spirit is ignited with Eros. It can also be damaging and detrimental when care is not taken to tend to the space appropriately. Tragically people get burned.
I do not offer these words from some blameless piously-finger-pointing pulpit on a mountain top. I offer these words from a place of hard-earned experience; standing on the rubble of a shattered sex-positive community with dirt on my clothes and my hair on fire.
I put my hands up; I have made mistakes through ignorance and arrogance. I’ve been through my own processes and personal enquiry. I’ve been deep diving into the education I never had around trauma, power dynamics, diversity and inclusivity. There are many times that I think it would be easier to walk away and live a simple life. However, I know that this is my vocation. I trust that the lessons will make me a better teacher and that humility is a good companion.
The simple truth is that to a greater or lesser degree we are all adapting ourselves to life through the experience of growing up in a deeply disconnected and dissociated world. This creates an emptiness in the soul that is longing to be filled in order to feel whole again.
- The thirst for touch and intimacy leads to a lack of attunement and awareness.
- The hunger for aliveness to means intense peak experiences are chased in order to “feel something”.
- The yearning to be free from the shackles of shame leads to breaking through boundaries. Only to crash on the other side.
- The longing to belong means that personal safety is sacrificed for social connection and approval.
This is all happening against the backdrop of a cultural addiction to bigger, faster, harder, and more. The insistence – even demand - that change and transformation can happen as a quick fix now. Rather than honouring the beautiful journey of cultivating sensitivity and awareness.
One the positive steps that has come out of my soul searching is a galvanisation to create the Code of Conduct for Tantra Massage Training. Whilst there are agreements introduced verbally during the workshops, there has never been a written document of the TMT ethos. For some years I have worked under the ethics and auspices of the Association of Somatic & Integrative Sexologists (ASIS), and will continue to do so in addition to our own protocols.
The Code of Conduct is now available on the website and will be an evolving piece of work.
We have now have an anonymous Incident Reporting Form to make the process of providing feedback even easier and more accessible. It is our commitment to receiving feedback and listening to complaints with a view to understanding how we can do better and to restore integrity where required.
Of course, there’s no point in me just saying “All is well here”. As difficult to digest as this point may be, everyone likes to believe that they are acting with integrity. Even in the face of evidence that suggests otherwise.
So don't just take my word for it... it's important to engage with resources by which to be more fully educated and make your own informed choice. Here are some that you might want to check out:
- Red Flags in Workshops (PDF download), Wilrieke Sophia and Rupert James Alison
- Sex and the Spiritual Teacher (book), Scott Eldestein
- Ethical Cults v’s Culty Cults (video), Jamie Wheal
These are challenging times for sure. Yet if we meet the challenges with curiosity, humility, and commitment to “being the change” then we can learn from the past and do better in the future.
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