March 18, 2012

Yoginis: Time to Woman Up! ~ Toongi Dasi

Photo: kristinmirabelle

Until recently I had no idea who John Friend is.

One of my guru-bheins (a co-practicioner in my Hindu-Vaishnava sect) is certified in Anusara Yoga and that’s about the extent of my knowledge of this particular yoga form.  When I read some of the articles here about him I admit to not quite getting what all the fuss was about.

Pursuing romantic relationships with yoga students?  Yeah, so?  Is a yoga class like the corporate world where co-worker and employer/employee dating is frowned upon (or sometimes even a breach of company policy) because it could prove bad for business and office morale?

Then I read something about married women.  OK.  But they are big girls and I’m sure John didn’t put a gun to their heads and force them to cheat on their spouses.  At some point they made a conscious decision to get a lil’ side helpin’ of mashed taters on their already full plate.

Then I read Kelly Morris’s EJ article, “Teachers, Keep it in Your Pants” and while I appreciated her personal policy of not dating her own yoga students, I felt she missed the forest for the trees when she talked about “power imbalance” because that power differential is precisely what attracts many women to men in the first place.

Kelly writes,“There is no such thing as consensual in a relationship predicated on a power inequity. Period.”

I disagree.  No two individuals are completely equal in all areas across the board.  Within a couple, one will be making more money while one will be better looking.  One may be physically stronger while one may be smarter.  Some couples are such that one person is all of the above more than the other.  So what?

By saying there is no such thing as consensual in a relationship predicated on power inequity one is essentially saying such a relationship is non-consensual, or in other words “forced” and guess what?  That’s called rape and rape is illegal.  So why not just have the guy arrested?  Because no matter how much we may want to paint intelligent, autonomous adult women as cognitively challenged little girls who need the protection of smart grown-ups, the truth is we women are very often attracted to men who are taller, bigger, smarter, richer or more successful/famous than we are.  Or at the very least taller, bigger, smarter, richer or more successful than other men.

That’s called “hypergamy” or in a by-gone era’s lexicon “marrying up”.

Some women are so hypergamous that they are willing to put their own marriages and families at risk in order to be with a man who they perceive has something “more” than their own husbands.   By laying the blame solely at the feet of the man who has more, we conveniently overlook the role of the intelligent, autonomous female who is making an independent conscious choice to engage in such a relationship.

We American women are on the cusp of what, our 4th wave of Feminism already and we are still playing the victim card?  Pfft!  Let’s get real here.

After doing a little reading about John’s creative birthing of Anusara Yoga I could understand why he had the oppurtunity to, as TIME Magazine puts it, “sexually betray(ed) multiple girlfriends.”

He’s a healthy looking, smart, creative and successful guy who’s “in touch” with his “feminine side” and let’s face it, such a combo is cat nip to new-agey yoga women everywhere, ain’t that right gals?

Yep, such a “more” man will inevitably cause a few married students to compare and contrast him to their hubbies, and many single students will of course prefer him to the unenlightened inflexible new-comer dude awkwardly rolling out his yoga mat in the back corner.

We can write until the sacred cows come home (and in India they are no longer sacred nor coming home but going to slaughter to supply the global leather industry, please see PETA’s video here)  about how yoga teachers should keep it in their pants, but until we address why women are attracted to the John Friends of the world and the lengths they are willing to go to get a guy like him, a change ain’t gonna come.

Ladies, it’s time to woman up and ask ourselves, “are we by nature hypergamous?”  If yes, let’s own it.  If not, then why do so many of us still prefer men who are at least a little taller than us?

In closing I’ll leave you with Spengler’s Law of Gender Parity to ponder:

“At all times and in all places, the men and women of every culture deserve each other.”


Editor: Hayley Samuelson


Toongi is a third culture person who has lived most of her adult life in India studying the literature and lore of Bengali Vaishnavism under the guidance of her guru. She currently resides in the United States where she teaches meditation techniques and dishes out unsolicited advice to the lovelorn in the tradition of Vatsyayana, the celibate sex guru of Kama Sutra fame. She can be reached on email here.

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