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Men as Healers of Women
Why in the name of the Goddess would any woman want to seek healing from a man if she has been hurt by men?
“What girls learn from their mothers is how to be mothers; what they learn from their fathers is how to be women.” To expand on this, girls too often learn from their mothers how not to be mothers and their father’s absence physically or emotionally means they do not get something vital in making the difficult transition from a being a girl to a being a powerful woman. What they miss is mirroring appreciation and validation. There are two ways that fathers, or whoever should be fulfilling that role, can disrupt this vital but delicate process; by deprivation or invasion.
Deprivation, means not really acknowledging their daughter’s growth and change and continuing to see them as a little girl, depriving them of the validation of the changes which they are very aware of and the man can see. They need feedback and appropriately appreciation. This lack of appreciate feedback can happen as a result of the physical absence of a father figure, or from the emotional absence and resultant lack of communication from the father. Frequently this comes from his general fear and discomfort with women and also from his more specific and unconscious fears about his own sexual response to his daughter. Suddenly at the first signs of puberty, the daughter is banished from her father’s lap, easily getting the message that now there is something wrong with her, or dangerous about her.
Invasion is the opposite, where the daughter’s pre-pubescent innocence is destroyed through the invasion of adult sexuality into the girl’s space. This can be from sexualising in an adult way, the innocent and the sensual in the girl with an adult gaze which is lecherous, lascivious and invasive. It can be in creating an over-sexualised atmosphere in the home or exposure to porn. Today this is also supported by a market culture that targets young children as consumers and sexualises them prematurely. At the other end of the spectrum; it can be actual physical sexual abuse. I recognise that sexual abuse also happens from mothers and other women but at least 80% is from men; fathers, step-fathers, brothers, strangers.
The lack appropriate mirroring from men at adolescence connects often with earlier wounding in childhood which is largely unconscious often between the ages of 3 and 6 when the girl is caught in the triangle of herself, mother and father recognising her relative helplessness in that, and seeing in her parents relationship a prototype of adult relating.
With so much wounding by men either through invasion or deprivation, it would be natural for a girl to give up on men, and who could blame them, but biology and the realities of a gendered body pull differently. Somewhere they recognise, the homoeopathic principal that like cures like. The very source of their wounding is also a powerful source of healing and growth. The need for appropriate recognition and mirroring is still there, along with the need for the permission to enjoy their body and their sexuality. They can get some of that permission from their mothers by experiencing in themselves their mother’s relationship to her own body and sexuality, but this of course is itself often compromised with many daughters seeing their mother’s distance from her own sexual aliveness.
The empathic witnessing by the man, is in itself a reparative relationship, giving the lie to the belief that all men are like that. In later life it gives the developmentally-needed permission to embody the divine feminine.
The core quality of the masculine is Presence that deep, focused, solidly embodied, awareness. This is what women crave; to be deeply seen and appreciated by this presence -
perhaps even worshipped. The quality of the masculine presence creates safety. In this safe space healing can happen.