Sexual Objectification & AssaultBy DAVID GREGG
Channeling on the Audrie & Daisy documentary
Sexual objectification, locker room talk, female body parts, rape culture, sexual assault -- these are terms that define a systemic problem in society, a problem too often inoculated with unsavory comments and excuses like she had it coming, or boys will be boys, or she's a slut.
Victim blaming, often defined in derogatory terms as slut shaming, are cruel yet common reactions, especially when an assault involves young girls at the high school level. That under-aged boys involved in these crimes rarely face punitive charges -- or even realize the gravity of their crimes -- is another distressing symptom of a societal attitude where men are seen as whole persons and women are seen as objects.
The problem of sexual objectification has become ubiquitous. Ads that objectify women are run daily in magazines and TV commercials; entire lines of clothing are designed for sexual appeal, not comfort, and physical attractiveness is equated with self-worth. While studies linking the objectification of women to sexual assault are still hotly debated, the growing disconnect amongst people who place their self-centered desires above the rights of others is an alarming trend.
Audrie & Daisy - a Documentary
Audrie and Daisy is a powerful and disturbing documentary about two high school girls sexually assaulted while intoxicated. One of them later committed suicide following an aftermath of public humiliation. The documentary should be mandatory viewing in ALL high schools.
The usual fallout of small-town corruption unfolds throughout the film, which includes the community taking sides, vicious attacks against the girls on social media and even burning down a house. The documentary exposes the sad degree of unconsciousness that exists in ignorant minds.
Deeply moved by the courageousness in the girls that came forward (and the ensuing media firestorm that ignited their court cases), I asked the Michael entity to comment on the issues raised by the film.
When a documentary like Audrie & Daisy begins the important discussion about sexual assault, objectification and shaming, the polarity this incites in the conversation draws the opposing sides out into the open. This creates an opportunity for change around an issue.
Polarities can be divisive and contentious and many voices in a community maintain their views in silence. Exposing the raw nerve of an issue, however, brings the matter to the surface -- not just to simmer, but to boil. That is what was seen in the court cases involving these girls.
The desired outcome to any corrosive issue is best realized when you reveal that it exists and then work to quickly neutralize it. By neutralizing, though, we are not suggesting that the problem should be minimized or viewed with indifference, but that a neutral playing field is established where understanding, negotiation and appropriate action lay the groundwork for change. Until both sides hear each other, until they are empathetic to the opposite view, change will not easily occur.
Karmic-inducing acts that run amok in the lives of others are the result of false personality (and its henchman, the negative alter-egos). In situations like sexual assault or the sexual objectification of women, where empathy is non-existent, the optimal solution is education, and education should begin at an early age and involve seeing and understanding the commonalities that exist between all living beings.
Objectification occurs when the division between others, especially the opposite gender, becomes so great that an energy of separation prevents an empathetic connection.
When sexual feelings develop in the psyche of an adolescent, for example, and the empathetic qualities of the heart are underdeveloped, the lack of empathy might prompt sexual desires that objectify rather than see a person as a whole. In contrast, when someone is able to see a part of themselves in all the people they encounter, they are less likely to malign or harm others.
Exercises to Help Develop Empathy
These exercises can be modified and taught to both children and adults. They would only need to cater to the level of experience and understanding.
1) This first exercise is an age-old variant on the Walking a Mile in the Shoes of Another adage.
In this variation, take a day and imagine that you're briefly occupying the body of any person that attracts your attention. This can be a bank teller conducting an account transfer, a street worker digging a hole while you wait in your car at a traffic stop, or a homeless person sifting through trash in an alley dumpster. The person or situation is unimportant. The exercise is only about briefly using your imagination to inhabit the physical space of another and empathize with their worldly experience.
If it's a street worker, imagine feeling his physical sensations as he works outdoors under a hot sun, hammering through the asphalt. Feel how his muscles ache and his body perspires. Feel his growing fatigue. Go deeper and imagine the thoughts and emotions of the worker. Is his labor mixed with pressing concerns about his life? Push for specifics. Imagine what it would be like if you were this person.
If you suddenly spot an elderly man pushing a walker down the sidewalk, transport yourself into his experience. Feel his crippled limbs, sense the frustration he endures to no longer possess a young and healthy body.
The goal of the exercise is to strengthen your empathetic skill by placing yourself into the lives of the people you encounter in your daily life.
2) This exercise is called Melding. The goal is to no longer just occupy the body of another person but to BECOME that person.
Pick someone you might encounter over an extended part of the day. This could be someone at work, a family member or friend. You simply need to be in their space for several hours.
Now imagine that this person is another aspect of YOU. They may possess different personality traits (role, overleaves) and different life experiences, but the person is still another expression of your soul occupying their body. Their experience is now your experience; their emotions are now your emotions.
Throughout the day watch them from afar and also interact in appropriate ways relevant to your relationship. How does it feel to be looking at another expression of yourself? Have your feelings changed knowing that this isn't a separate, disconnected person standing before you, but another manifestation of YOU?
The next day, imagine at least two people who are another YOU manifestation. How far can you extend your personal expression during the week? How many times can you multiple yourself?
3) Our final exercise is called Bridging the Gap. This exercise is easy to do but requires a little tolerance up front.
If you encounter someone who is behaving negatively or rudely, imagine an understandable cause behind their behavior that has nothing to do with them being naturally ill-tempered.
If someone angrily honks their horn behind you because you didn't notice the traffic light had changed to green, imagine that they're anxiously racing home from work to care for a sick child. If someone unfairly berates you at your job for a mistake you made on a document, imagine that your co-worker is overcome with the stress of a difficult divorce.
In short, use your imagination (and growing empathy) to bridge the gap between you and a challenging personality. Fill the gap with something that helps you understand their behavior. It doesn't matter if it isn't true or if the person is really a jerk. Your goal is to model compassion and develop greater empathy for others.
If practiced with diligence and sincerity, these exercises will provide invaluable life lessons for you.
Curious about the root cause of sexual objectification, I asked the Michael entity to address the how and why of female objectification and how that can be transformed into a more loving expression.
To objectify another, to fixate on certain body parts that stimulate sexual arousal, is to only see a fraction of the infinite beauty of another soul. The stigmatization of female body parts as sexual objects -- idolized in advertising, movies, and the global culture -- is certainly nothing new. Physical attraction is an undeniable factor in the biological act of procreation; the sexual urge is a hard-wired instinct in most living beings.
Like anything, though, the components of love and fear are prominent players in this sexual dance. For your present culture, sex is often an instinctive mechanism with little room left for making an emotional connection. With this marked tendency to view others as instruments of physical gratification alone -- or in parlance common to your society, "Wow, she is really HOT" -- a negative alter ego is created that is instinctive centered and disconnected from seeing someone as a whole person.
Negative alter egos are independent parts of the false personality (or ego) that supplant the personality when certain emotions and fixations are triggered. The sexual expression and behavior of a negative alter ego is self-indulgent and has little to do with the creation of a sexual union that brings two souls together as one. The sexual act then becomes a form of mutual masturbation.
In extreme cases, an alter ego created around sex can lead to animalistic displays of sexual behavior, with a sole focus on achieving gratification with or without the consent of the partner. Many instances of sexual assault and rape occur when the alter ego races out of control, feeding on the negative energy generated from a lack of connection to essence. Remarks made later such as "I don't know what came over me" are common explanations following an assault. The instinctive energies, coupled with the programming of the sexual alter ego, override the more loving dictates of the higher self (or essence).
This, however, does not remove karmic responsibility for criminal acts. The creation of an alter ego -- in this case, with a fixation on sex -- is the result of repeatedly objectifying women (or men) at the personality level. Evaluations concerning the shapeliness of breasts, legs, and so on, are limiting and shallow, and act as a barrier to appreciating the whole of another human being.
Ideally, all connections to a sexual partner should begin as a connection to the heart, not the loins. When sexual energy is not tempered with proportional energies from the heart, a true sexual union cannot be achieved. Blending heart energy with sexual energy creates a criss-cross exchange that momentarily unifies two souls in a mutual expression of ecstasy. This rarely occurs, though, if the sole focus is on having an orgasm or "getting-off."
A true union with another is less about sexual attraction and more about the openness of the heart. True union cannot be achieved unless both partners transcend the effects of false personality -- at least for the duration of the act. This is not as daunting as it sounds, though. Sexual intimacy, when shared with love -- and this is important -- helps boost the spiritual immune system, so to speak, against the negative effects of false personality.
True union is possible when the energies of the heart are the focal point. Without the energies of the heart, sex is just a fulfillment of biological urges, an instinctive-driven act of procreation.
The creation of the whole, the climatic point of any loved-based sexual expression, is the ultimate goal. Penetration and even orgasm are not necessary for this union to occur -- although an orgasm often marks the release of this energetic wholeness. It is even possible for a sexual union to occur by gazing into the eyes of a partner without any physical contact at all. The intention is simply connection and oneness.
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