The purpose of this post is to describe the origins, principles and goals of the Desexualised Spaces movement.
Desexualised Spaces in History and Today
The necessity and value of Desexualised Spaces is as old as human society its self.
Hunting and military units, sports teams and fraternities such as Freemasons have been gathering points for men throughout the ages. At water fountains, in homes and more recently female empowerment groups are some of the places where women have tended to gather.
Starting in the 1950's, much of western society has engaged in a large scale social experiment of increasingly mixing the genders in almost all spheres of life. Particularly North Western European countries such as Denmark where Maniphesto is based have led the way in this development. As women have joined the workforce en-masse and more and more spheres of human activity have become gender-mixed, we are seeing a corresponding increasing in growth of the demand for gender separated Desexualised Spaces.
As our society and normal gender roles is changing, the norms and territories for male and female spaces is also changing. For example, associations for psychologists, priests and doctors used to be all-male clubs, but are now becoming increasingly female only domains. For example, Copenhagen University reports that 83% of their Psychology students are now women, and the study of Public Health Science is 91% female. Females now also constitute a majority of doctors and priests in Denmark.
The field of tech startups is probably the most male dominated, with about 80 to 90% of tech startups run by men. The mainstream media fret about exclusion and oppression of women and turn these kinds of statistics into evidence of "the patriarchy" and create polarised debate around identity politics which is great for filling newspaper columns and keeping people in a state of outrage and anger, but seems to do little to actually enable men and women lead more free and fulfilling lives.
Diversity as Strength
Contrary to the excesses of mainstream media, the Desexualised Spaces Movement points out something that everyone knows and can appreciate: Men and women should be treated the same, but will then choose differently.
As a society and in communities, our goals and intentions should always be to create a state whereby men and women are treated equally, and given freedom to choose freely for themselves how to create a meaningful and good life for themselves. But countless studies and decades of experience show that when men and women are given this freedom, then they tend to choose DIFFERENTLY, not the same.
The basic confusion that seems to be prevalent is that, in our eagerness to create equality for men and women, we started thinking that it was also desirable that they are the same. Men and women are most definitely not the same, and no amount of wishing them to be that will ever make them so. And this is a good thing. The absolutely most fundamental function needed for the survival of the human race, that of creating children, is based on the basic differentiation and specialisation in biology of men and women. And deeper than that, it is in the differences between men and women that attraction, growth and deeper understanding occurs.
Here is a truth which will always be true, irrespective of how politically correct or incorrect it is: Men and women naturally enjoy different activities and appreciate doing these things with people of their own gender. Recognising that men and women are different doesn't create more separation and alienation. Instead it creates an understanding of the reality of our unique perspectives that helps us to reach and connect with each other better and create shared understanding. When we are able to accept that men and women are different and appreciate different things, from the earliest age in life, then we can also start reaping the immense benefits of gender separated Desexualised Spaces.
Given their different values and tendency to emphasise different aspects of life, men and women in Desexualised Spaces are able to relax more, and not be concerned that they will offend someone else. Nowhere has this need become more apparent than hyper politically correct, "Woke" cultures such as universities and public institutions which are becoming increasingly dysfunctional, as they collapse into a spiral of increasing demands of correct speech, awareness of "micro-aggressions" and obsession with protecting the rights of victims. The reason things have gone so wrong is because this woke culture is built on a few flawed assumptions about human nature and how to work with our imperfections.
Functional Pedagogy for Growth
The Desexualised Spaces Movement reflects a pedagogy that builds on a fundamental trust in the goodness of human nature and society. It puts emphasis on the meaning and joy of authentic human interaction and believes that, given the right conditions, humans want to do what is right. Certainly we do not benefit from forced indoctrination on specific post-modern theories about prejudice and oppression, subjected to constant policing to ensure correct behavior and then shamed or even subjected to a symbolic public "mob lynching" if we somehow take a wrong step.
Instead the Desexualised Spaces Movement believes that humans naturally tend towards love, compassion and deeper understanding of each other. Forming a strong core identity learning the strengths and weaknesses of ones own gender identity as a man or woman, and taking care of one's self is an important step in learning to handle differences with others. A culture which never forgives and harbors constant skepticism of bias and oppression gives no space for mistakes and learning and thus fosters inauthentic behavior which suppresses natural impulses and ultimately causes a state of self-loathing and dishonesty.
By spending time in Desexualised Spaces, we can relax and be authentic and show people who we really are. None of us are perfect, but we don't necessarily want to show our dirty laundry to the world . Rather, by spending time in a secluded and safe environment, with people who are similar to us, and share some of our fundamental beliefs, we are able to feel safe enough to take an honest look at ourselves and our behavior
This approach reflects a pedagogy that any parent or teacher knows very well - trying to shame a person into good behavior is a terrible approach and will more likely result in further dysfunctional behavior. Instead, by trusting in people and giving them space to be themselves, discover and struggle with their own strengths and weaknesses, they are able to and will naturally want to reach towards optimal growth.
The fact that these spaces are called "Desexualised Spaces" indicates that they are free of any influence from sexual attraction and competition. Most people would claim that they are able to think and act in all areas of their life without sexual attraction causing undue influence. Experience however shows that we are more influenced by sexual competition that we would care to admit to ourselves.
Maniphesto has been running retreats and workshops for men only for years, and thousands of men have benefitted from our work. These men come from all walks of life, backgrounds and stages in development. the one and most central thing that they have shared in the experience of how being in a men's only Desexualised space creates a sense of relaxation and openness, where they can take a deeper look at themselves, who they are and what they are doing with themselves - and to become a better person through that process.
Almost everyone has experienced how the atmosphere changes in the room the moment one young and beautiful women enters the room full of men. Everyone with at least some life experience has also witnessed toxic behavior of men and women playing out manipulative dramas based on sexual competition in order to get attention or further their goals.
This is often spoken about at length with long rants and diatribes against this kind of behavior. And of course it resonates with people, because this is a real pertinent problem. The question that we fail to ask ourselves however though, is, what can we do to solve the problem. Irrespective of our feelings about it, we have to admit, that we are sexual beings. In certain situations, almost all of us will have some tendency in our behavior towards sexual competitiveness, and often unconsciously so. This is a part of our nature - like it or not.
The solution therefore, is to create spaces where we can be separate as a gender, get to know ourselves and each other better, and thus be better equipped to encounter the opposite gender in a way which is more orientated towards compassion and mutual understanding, rather than aggression, skepticism and misunderstanding.
Three Principles of Desexualised Spaces:
Only one gender is present. In male desexualised spaces, only men. In female desexualised spaces only women. This is strictly enforced.
Desexualised spaces foster the growth of deeper human connection and authenticity between members of the same gender. This enables participants to build a stronger identity as a member of their own gender, as a component of their identity as a human - and thus be empowered to build stronger and more aligned relationships with the other gender.
Desexualised spaces are disinterested in grandstanding and virtue signaling which has become the unfortunate norm in mainstream discussion on identity politics and which inhibits authentic and constructive discussion.
If you are interested in experiencing a gender separated space, then the possibilities are many, from sports clubs to various interest-orientated associations and clubs.
We recommend however trying out a group which is specifically orientated towards intentional creation of Desexualised Spaces. For men, The European Men's Gathering is a good start. For women, the Nordic Women's Gathering.