Rex Brangwyn: Building Erotic Intelligence (E10)

This conversation I recorded with Rex Brangwyn was originally part of my online program Masculinity: A New Story.  The outpouring of gratitude, insight, and stories it provoked from participants has prompted me to share it more widely. You may not agree with everything he says, but he is a sincere explorer who radiates love, compassion, and honesty.

Rex Brangwyn is a practitioner of psychosexual somatics, which uses sexuality as a gateway to physical, emotional, and psychological healing. In this conversation we talk about the incredible transformative power of female sexuality, and the role of the man (or other holder of masculine energy) in facilitating it. Rex says, “Most women have no idea the places they can go. The men aren’t around who can hold the space.... the erotic spaces a woman can go are truly astounding. And I think for a lot of unprepared men, they wouldn’t know what to do. They would probably run a mile.”

Rex describes the masculine quality of presence necessary for this journey – a gentle holding, respect, humility, and directionality. Cultivating these qualities is part of what he calls the building of erotic intelligence, which is a gateway to connecting with who we really are. It is a demanding path; as Rex says, “If we are to be present to women’s erotic opening, we have to be open to their rage. And if we are to be open to their rage, we have to be open to ours. We have to start this empathetic journey with women, with ourselves, and with the planet.”

In the last half hour we explore a related topic: initiation. Drawing on his work with the organization A Band of Brothers, Rex discusses the importance of building a multigenerational community for young men to be initiated into, as an ongoing support for a way of being that lasts a lifetime.If you'd like to subscribe to the entire series, you can do that here: Masculinity: A New Story.

Comments

  1. I’ve listened to half of it so far, and it’s actually really right on with what I believe. I’m sharing it with my husband. Two important caveats, though. I feel like they should have discussed at the very beginning WHY women have rage and grief hidden in their sexual systems, and take responsibility for that as men living in partiarchy. I also think they should explore and find and expose their own rage and grief over these issues. I also think it would be awesome if they had the sensitivity to acknowledge the trauma women have been through (they sort of do acknowledge this) and how difficult it may be for women to even listen to this recording, not bc of what they are saying, but bc of the trauma of patriarchy and violence against women. I also think they touch on it very very briefly, but it is very true that women do not need cis gendered men to reach these areas of themselves. Not at all. And lastly, my personal belief is that because of the level of trauma and violence patriarchy has perpetrated against women that ideally, men would explore, understand, find, a lot of this stuff out without experimenting in sexual experience with women, at this point. Like, they need to do their work first, I think. Ideally. I mean he describes having his own experience of grief and having this woman hold him… But chances are, she has her own rage and grief go deal with, caused by men… So to be in a position comforting a man like that is potentially damaging. I do think men can do things on their own, amongst themselves, etc. But many are too eager to get to the sexual experience, which is where the selfishness and lack of empathy comes in. Fascinating and true, though, that they discuss how a truly ecstatic sexual experience can only occur with courage, selflessness, and humility… Something in short supply for men in capitalist patriarchy… But maybe they need to figure that out! I believe it can be done.

    • Well said Sarah, I am a male gendered human, heterosexual, and agree with all that you have said. I have noticed over and over that beyond that which I can do for a woman to heal, there is a trauma that is just going to take time. And yet, just as much, in helping women heal, I have come to see how this patriarchal system that traumatises is not held by men alone, but by the complicity of women too. Women, and for that matter all minorities or “weak” are complice in the dynamics of violence by the only act of absorbing it without rebellion. I have also learned with experience, that while so much of the inability of the “weak” to rebel against patriarchal domination is due to their terror or sensitivity to physical violence, the solutions to it are most often in the area of the psychological rather than the physical. In other words, it takes a truthful relating to oneself, a finding of one’s true self, to finally understand that physical violence is not the issue, and that one can stand physical violence by the sole determination to stand for oneself and not participate in it. To ask for respect and the stopping of physical violence, must come from a place of self-understanding that sees the more subtle forms of psychological suffering that fuel the physical side. So, finally, in my view, patriarchy is not a system of domineering men, but a belief system locked in place by the complicity of both female and male energies not questioning those false beliefs.

      • “So, finally, in my view, patriarchy is not a system of domineering men, but a belief system locked in place by the complicity of both female and male energies not questioning those false beliefs.”

        YES

        I totally agree with you. The other side of the patriarchal (let’s say UNHEALTHY PATRIARCHY) is women unconsciously emasculating men. We are taught to do this in our society so much. It is encouraged. it is encouraged for women to get together and laugh at ‘how stupid men are’ and cut them down and then wonder ‘where are all the good men?’The sad thing is, is that both sides feed each other into a downward spiral. Women emasculating men encourages men to objectify and cut down women, and the more men do this, the more women feel the need to reclaim their power (in an unhealthy way) by emasculating men. And the cycle continues.

        As men and women we BOTH need to take 100% responsibility for what is occurring and do our best to clear our internal, individual stuff in order to heal the collective psyche.

        For women who want to lear more about how you may be unconsciously emasculating men (I was big time: I grew up in a super abusive environment) and change it so that you can have beautiful, inspiring and supportive relationships with men, check out Alison Armstrong’s work. She is a genius. Such a beautiful and powerful woman.

    • Dear Sarah… if I may… I think the focus here should be on the healing… independent of the origin and reasons for trauma, grief, anger… there are million reasons why a women is not living her true nature… you can either discuss these or go directly to the force within her. Once she knows that she is safe and will not be rejected because of her traumatic projections and outburst of rage, anger and lust… she will go the way… and through our love for her we are able to hold the space for her security, her cozyness, her disires to be hunted and eaten alive… when she is awake to her whole feminity, her heart will make the trees sing, and heal the souls of men.

  2. Thank you, Charles and Rex, for discussing this most important issue of our time. I think building erotic intelligence is necessary for both sexes. Our (both male and female) inability to perceive and give true spiritual love creates the pain we see in the world today. Yes, we have to help young men learn to love and see themselves as integral parts of this earth, not lords over her. Then, they can show a more divine love for women, learning to love her entire being and showing a desire for connectedness, not just release. Your comments regarding this type of love are so encouraging, and your earnest quest for improving this world is so appreciated!

    When your e-mail was delivered today I was listening to Barry Long, who wrote: Making Love: Sexual Love the Divine Way,

    What amazing synchronicity!

  3. Wow, this is so touching to listen too!! My heart is aching and melting and hearing not only men, but PEOPLE speaking in this way about sexuality and its relationship to the whole. Wow, my soul is swimming in it… as i woman i would love to know how i can connect more with this…. Breathing…

  4. Sarah,

    I agree with you. It is not possible to extract ourselves from the system of which we are a part and when we don’t acknowledge the system, we are missing part of the story.

    To the other comments…when those who are oppressed try to fight for themselves, they still come up against the system that is designed to hold them down. “Emasculating” men is one type of attempt of the oppressed to take a stand for themselves when they can’t access true power (not that it is helpful). And while one can do a lot of psychological work to remove internalized oppression, it does not remove the actual repressive systems in which one lives. The system itself needs to shift to allow for everyone to live fully.

  5. I feel inutterably grateful to bear witness to this conversation between men acknowledging the power, wounding, grief of the feminine in women, the earth, and yourselves. I dare say that there is as well a feminine force in your own souls that also is crying out for your rapt attention, and the combination of those three, along with your inquiry into the healthy masculine, will take us a long way toward our healing, together. Thank you for letting me listen in. I want everyone I know to listen to this, and some, especially men, may take 10 years to get around to it. All in good timing. Much love.

  6. It is too patriarchal for me to listen to only men weighing in on changing and growing the love dynamic. My inner masculine is less evolved than my inner feminine. My “handicap” is the conditioning of all the expectation created since earliest cognition – shoulds imposed in many ways – that lie embedded in us all. The “something wonderful” that Joseph Chilton Pearce says we anticipate actually keeps unfolding in the love spaces we co-create. Yes, you can grow more rapidly with a knowledgable, more experienced partner. Humility and transparency and honesty are the courageous handmaidens of both sexes to make the journey over the portal to exquisite intimacy. Brangwyn’s suggestions to his son are an excellent description of the dance. It also might well be true that there are many other pathways to the holy of holies. Body, mind, and spirit all infused with love co-create the space. May we all be the love we wish to see in the world.

  7. The true courage comes from surrender. That which is so hard for us in modern society, where the ego is deeply rooted in through the mind’s ideas, subjective views, believes, etc, that which make up the self (individual as we know him/her).
    Actually, there are beautiful talks by Larry Merculieff on youtube, which put it beautifully. The fear of men is ego dissolution, that which he searches once he starts a spirutal path – the oneness, emptiness, etc. Some Tantrica’s work also touch on that, as well as some modern psychologists, I believe Dako.

    Thank you for a great talk!

  8. I think the problem of Patriarchy is not domineering men, and the power, violence and suppression that comes with it. I think the problem of Patriarchy is the denial of femininity as valuable. In both men and women. Women came to power the past century. But how? By embracing all the values perceived as masculine: work hard, focus on career, get to the top, stand strong, be tough dadada.
    So now they entered the domain of the strong tough masculine patriarchy. And now where all there and f*cked. pardon my french. We all have to start embracing the feminine as a divine and essential quality. Men have this quality too. I once saw Touareg men in the dessert killing a goat for the family. But they did it with so much feminine quality: gentleness, softness, patience, care, compassion…the goat went gently down on his knees full of trust and went without scream or struggle, in a blink of an eye. Exaggerated and overvalued ‘masculinity’ leads to power, growth, force and goal reaching without the feminine qualities of connection, inclusiveness, compassion and then it becomes destructive. It is great to have the masculine quality to stand out and reach a goal. But without the feminine quality it is not holistic. You cut wood without caring for the forest, you get more milk without caring for the cow. You get more, higher and further without caring for the people and the planet. We need to validate the feminine qualities that for so long were suppressed as ‘weak’ or ‘soft’. We all need to be care-ful, connected and compassionate. And balance female and male. We need to allow men to step out of the male caricature they are pushed into for centuries. And let them be whole. Not weak or soft or sissy. Whole. Then the planet and nature will be whole again.

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