‘No’ that means ‘maybe’ and #MeToo
Lately I get a lot of questions like this one:
"What is a realistic way for a man to learn the difference between "no" as ‘no,’ and "no" as ‘maybe’? You allude to this in your TED talk, but don't get into details. A lot of guys just give up. California made a LAW that "no means no", so it's now illegal to assume that "no means maybe". It's a very, very bad situation out there right now especially because of the #metoo, which started out as a very necessary and important movement and has evolved into a disastrous witch hunt (e.g. Al Franken). So back to my question: how to distinguish between "no as no" and "no as maybe"? Obviously, you know this because you are so aware of how Cubans do it. Thank you."
This is such an important question at a time when there is a real epidemic leading to the MeToo movement. I truly feel that I need to answer this for many people who are struggling with this question. I’d like to start by setting up a baseline. It’s needed because this is such an explosive subject that we need to make sure we understand what each term means.
When I said in my TED talk a 'no' that means 'maybe' I mean flirting. When we flirt we want to attract the other person by playing hard to get. It's about an attraction which happens to us naturally when we feel drawn to someone, or them to us. The problem starts when men start to think that they can take something forcefully against a woman’s will.
Let me break it down to digestible steps for you:
- Respect of boundaries - permission
What does it all mean?
What this means is being a gentleman, respecting a woman and treating her well, being courteous and graceful. Examples like Trump – the President of the USA - talking about women in a degrading way and then calling it “Locker Room Talk” is horrible. It teaches boys lack of respect for women and puts the boundary between what is OK and not OK at a dangerous place. Obama on the other hand is a great example of a gentleman – how he treats his wife, his composure and peacefulness, we cannot imagine him forcing himself on anyone. He sets a good example through his being that sends a beautiful message. The many men who have been exposed through the MeToo movement, who have crossed those lines aggressively, lack respect for the women they used and were certainly not behaving as gentlemen. I love that actor Justin Baldoni is leading a new movement for men to behave in a new way that shows vulnerability redefining masculinity. The conversation he started is ground-breaking, not to mention sexy.
Why we do what we do. A man chasing a woman because he likes her is sweet, as long as this doesn’t turn into stalking. The MeToo movement exposed men that used their power to take something away from women who were not interested in giving them what they wanted. They used their position of power against what is ethical. That’s a very different intention than, for example, love. If you are interested in someone, your intention has to be pure – to better them off through this connection, and they have to want it too.
Under no circumstances can and should a man take anything forcefully from a woman, no matter if there is flirting going on or not. When rape victims are being blamed for bringing this upon themselves, that’s just wrong. The world used to be such that a woman could tease and flirt, and the boundary was that nothing could be taken with force. Nowadays if a man doesn’t get what he wants he might take it anyway against her will. The problem with this is that there is no room for flirting, which is as natural to us as breathing. If the space is not safe we cannot play. And we can’t really lock down our sexual energy because it is part of our life energy. It is known that wasting our sexual energy hurts our vitality and leads to death at an earlier age. So the line needs to be drawn in a place that comes out of the right values, your intention must be pure and it needs to be understood that under no circumstances can anything be taken away against anyone’s will.
You asked about Cubans. So first let me say that not everyone in Cuba uses this knowledge in an ethical way. It is known that Cuba has jineteros – men and women who use the tourists to improve their lives. It’s important for me to point this out, to not paint a perfect picture that is detached from reality. When I am describing Cubans and what they do I am describing those that act in an ethical and respective way, who have strong values. They are the ones I have been spending years studying, trying to understand what they do that works so well.
Something that helps Cubans a lot is that they are very connected to their bodies. They have evolved a lot more, than the Western World, from the Somatic Intelligence aspect, i.e. they read extremely well what a woman wants and doesn’t want from her body movements and language. They don’t push, even when a woman plays hard to get, they will court her with respect, charm and gentleness. Cubans also don’t hide what they feel and want, like in North America and certain countries in Europe, they speak it through the body language openly. It makes it easier to understand what the other person wants. They are so good at playing this flirtatious game that they can even tell when a woman rejects them just to make them chase her harder. Having said that, there is a cultural context here. Don't try this in the US. It’s safe to behave this way in Cuba. It’s old school. They use charm to motivate women. This behavior in North America is unacceptable and will get you in trouble. Your intuition probably has not evolved enough and women don’t play that hard to get when they are actually interested. So if you are not sure, be respective and don’t ever push. Look for signs – a look, a touch, a sentence, a smile – something that will indicate possible interest. And then, give it a respectful try with confidence but while being willing to accept also a ‘no.’ Cubans treat every ‘no’ as a possible ‘yes’ but not out of pushing or out of forcing – out of charming and knowing that situations can evolve over time. So there is no need to feel harshly rejected. No means to them not now and if it will turn into a yes it’s because both sides will feel differently about it in the future. This opening takes away the fear of rejection.
When you want to get to someone’s heart, the easiest way to motivate them is to charm them. Charm means using what is special about your personality to move another's heart. You might be super authentic and can deeply connect with people, or be hilariously funny, or sexy at just the right amount, or maybe your charm is shyness… whatever your thing is. If you use your social charm to connect with someone, whom at a first glance might have not been interested, they might suddenly feel differently. Charm is the best way to motivate someone that you are interested in. It’s non-intrusive, it will get the other person to smile from the inside out and if things don’t pan out, you were being a gentleman, you respected their boundaries, and left a smile on their face, because you’ve connected from an authentic place that before anything fills your own cup.
If you come to take something away from someone, of course they will feel robbed by you. But if you’ll come to give or share, then your intention will be very powerful. You should always aim to leave a person that you are interested in, in the same emotional place or better off. When you think of the MeToo movement – the guilty ones are the ones that took something away from someone – used them. But when there is nothing to be taken, then you share a moment whether it will last for an instant, a period or a lifetime. It’s the genuine human connections that enrich our lives, and when we leave a positive mark on another, our hearts feel full of love.
Creating laws that prevent us from doing anything about attraction goes against our human nature. It also doesn’t resolve the problem. It creates an awkward environment to live in. What we need to do is relearn what used to know or now perhaps never been taught, before we became so aggressive. This is why I created the Power of Elegance for men and the Power of the Sabrosura retreat for women – to make sure this knowledge will not disappear from this world. The 5 Elements of Somatic Intelligence balance us back and bring us back to our feminine and masculine true nature. For example if a man is very aggressive - he is probably very intentional in his life but lost his sabrosura which softens us up, he is also lacking elegance in the body which counter balances aggressiveness and creates emotional sturdiness and quietness. What happened over time with the current modern lifestyle is that we lost our true nature - the optimal way for us to live life. Certain elements got stronger while others were even turned off completely. To resolve this we need to dial up the elements that were neglected while others took over. These elements work in harmony with one another and fit together in the right way that works for our personality, cultural background and personal identity.