Rites of Passage: A call for role models to lead change towards healthy relationship culture.
In a world where rites of passage have evolved, where cultural norms are constantly shifting, and where our actions hold power beyond the immediate moment, it’s essential to engage in conversations that challenge the status quo. Recently, I found myself in one such conversation, a dialogue that compelled me to reflect on the deep-rooted connections between rites of passage, toxic masculinity, and the culture surrounding industries like pornography.
The Culture of Objectification
Today, our society grapples with the omnipresent influence of pornography and beauty expectations on popular culture. These industries have the potential to perpetuate toxic masculinity by reducing women to mere objects of desire. This objectification can normalise harmful behaviours and attitudes, hindering the development of healthy, respectful relationships.
Personal Reflection and Conversation
My own journey led me to a conversation with a close male friend who was organising a bachelor party involving strippers. I felt compelled to express my concerns about how such choices could perpetuate a culture of objectification and disrespect, whilst communicating how his choices affected me directly. My friend, however, was defensive, arguing that it was the women’s choice to engage in these industries. A diflection from the point I was making which was clear – he had a choice too, a choice to challenge the status quo and assert himself (be a cultural and masculine leader) and support my feelings as a woman and the other women whose partners were to attend the party.
Marriage as a Significant Rite of Passage
One of the most significant rites of passage in our culture is marriage. It’s a momentous choice that symbolises commitment, partnership, and respect within a relationship, complete spiritual acceptance. Marriage represents a transition into a new phase of life, and it highlights the importance of nurturing deep and respectful bonds. Just as our choices affect our society’s broader narrative, the choice to marry is a declaration of profound commitment and respect for one another.
The Choice to Challenge
It’s crucial to recognise that “not doing anything” is, in fact, doing something. Complacency often arises from the desire to conform and be accepted as a member of a group, even when that group engages in mindless activities that come at the cost of meaningful rites of passage and perpetuates a culture of disrespect and hurt. Choosing to abstain from participating in or endorsing activities that perpetuate toxic masculinity and objectification is a powerful stance. These choices have a ripple effect, contributing to the reshaping of cultural narratives and promoting a more respectful and empathetic society. I understand that women and men as sex workers have a choice somewhat to do the work that they want. I am referring to the disrespect towards self and your partner for engaging in and enjoying this – taking away from your relationship and keeping of connection. Negating your partners feelings and embodied somatic responses due to the energy leaks and transfers that spiritually occur during these engagements. So why is it normalised to act disrespectfully towards the one you chose (and subconsciously yourself) prior to the ceremony through a “it’s just what is done” party?
Challenging the ‘Because It’s What’s Done’ Mentality
Too often, we find ourselves doing things simply because they’re deemed “what’s done” in our culture. We follow norms without questioning them, and this unquestioning acceptance can perpetuate behaviours and actions that may be harmful or disrespectful. It’s time to lead a change and challenge this mentality, to consider how our choices impact the feelings and development of ourselves and those around us. The person I was speaking to about my feelings around the party admitted that they had never really thought about it from another perspective before. They candidly shared that if I hadn’t initiated this conversation, they might have continued following these norms without a second thought. It was a profound moment for me, highlighting how deeply ingrained these patterns are in our culture.
In a world where the lines between tradition and progress blur, it’s imperative that we engage in thoughtful discourse about rites of passage and their role in shaping the culture we want. We must recognise that our choices, whether to actively challenge harmful norms or passively perpetuate them, carry significant weight. “Not doing anything” isn’t a neutral stance; it’s a choice that contributes to the ongoing narrative of our culture.
Our Choices Today, Affecting Generations Tomorrow
I’ve found that many of us, including myself, have faced situations where initiating conversations about the impact of commercialized sexuality and questioning established norms feels like stepping into uncharted territory. It’s precisely because these norms have become deeply ingrained in our culture that they often go unquestioned. Take, for instance, the expectation that certain activities are a rite of passage, such as those associated with an Australian bachelor party. When I expressed my concerns or discomfort about these practices, I’ve encountered dismissive labels like “prude.”
However, it’s been a profound personal journey to recognize that it’s through open and thoughtful conversations that we can break free from these entrenched patterns. By sharing different perspectives and challenging the status quo, I’ve seen the power of dialogue in initiating a shift towards a culture where choices are made consciously, not blindly followed. In my own experience, I’ve come to understand that these conversations are essential for fostering a society where the well-being and dignity of all individuals are respected. It’s a collective effort to create a more enlightened and compassionate world, and I’ve witnessed that change begins with one conversation at a time.
As adults, the choices we make today ripple through time, impacting not only our immediate lives but also the culture we perpetuate and the generations to come. In the context of challenging commercialized sexuality and nurturing a culture that respects the sanctity of human connection, we hold a profound responsibility. When we mindfully question and challenge the norms and behaviors that have become all too common, we pave the way for a future where men and women alike can live in their most divine and authentic selves.
Men as Protectors and Mentors
Men, in particular, play a pivotal role in fostering a culture of respect, consent, and healthy relationships. It begins with the awareness that they can serve as protectors not only of their own daughters but of all daughters within our society. This protection extends beyond mere physical safety; it includes safeguarding the emotional and psychological well-being of individuals, especially during the critical phases of their lives, such as rites of passage.
To truly protect and mentor the younger generation, men can take proactive steps. It involves challenging misogyny and sexism whenever they encounter it, whether in conversations, media, or daily interactions. It means teaching children that their bodies belong to them, emphasizing the importance of consent, and modeling healthy relationships. It’s about not standing by as passive bystanders when they witness inappropriate behavior or attitudes towards women. It’s caring deeply about how men react with all women and girls, not solely their immediate family members, and using the proper names for body parts to foster open and respectful communication.
These actions are not merely gestures; they are profound influences that shape the culture in which our children and grandchildren will grow. By choosing to be mindful and proactive in our actions today, we sow the seeds of a culture where people of all genders can flourish in their most authentic and divine selves, free from the distortions of commercialized sexuality.
By choosing to challenge disrespect and objectification, we can pave the way for a culture that embraces the divine masculine and feminine, nurtures deep and respectful relationships, and sets a positive example for future generations. It’s time to take a stand, and allow men to protect our women and children; to make choices that matter, and to be the leaders our society needs in these transformative times. Let us remember that our rites of passage, like marriage, are powerful declarations of the respect and love we hold for one another, impact healthy relationships, and they should reflect the culture we wish to cultivate.