These women said they enjoyed men very much (Morgana nodding "Yes!" vigorously, with a huge smile) but they do not always feel safe. Besides bathing and walking around nude, people at Dragonfest also dance at the fire and drum nude. They wanted the men present to monitor the behavior of other men, and speak to anyone who is being a jerk (or is too drunk to behave himself or herself).
So! The four women left, and the men talked. I was rather surprised to find that I was not the only person there who aparently UTTERLY, COMPLETELY misses flirts and passes coming my way (if any--- I still have my doubts) by women. I suppose if a woman came right out and asked me to spend the night with her, I wouldn't hear her, or I'd think she means something else (like sleeping on her couch with the cat), and I'd ignore her (only to think about it much later and wonder. . . .). Well, someone else pointed out he had the same problem. We all agreed that, just as the women said, we wished women would come right out and say they are interested, and interested in what exactly. We also talked about women who would not take "No" for an answer--- at my first festival, during a drum frenzy, a drunk woman pulled my shirt off and ordered me to say "Yes," and when I told her she was drunk, she wandered into the forest; people were sent to find her (it gets to almost freezing even in August).
The men then selected four representatives to meet with the women's circle the next day to reply to the women's concerns and issues, and to state our own (the men's). Then later that day both the women's group and men's group met.
I was utterly amazed at how the women perceived human mating rituals. We discovered that both the women's and men's concerns were identical, but both genders thought they had a rougher, more difficult part in the process than the other gender!
One woman said she thought it was not fair that the woman takes "75% of the risk" (risk being rejected, harm to her self esteem) than the man, and my jaw hit the ground with a loud THUD! Somehow she thought men find it much easier to walk up to a woman and tell her he finds her attractive. Good grief! Being the spokesperson for shy men, I told this woman that it is no easier for a man to put himself out on a limb like that than it is for a woman. I told her that many men will go out of their way to avoid a woman they are interested in, just to keep from acting like a fool (which men do SO well!). It was her turn to be surprised. The woman sitting next to me, who had her tent next to mine said, "So that's why you've been avoiding me!" with a big grin. I hope she was kidding.
All this makes me wonder why women and men have such false ideas about human sexuality and mating rituals. I mean we were mostly all over thirty years old, so how could any of this be a surprise?
Next year the women are going to have a women's circle each day of the festival at noon, to talk about men--- the problems they might have had the evening before, as well as to relate their successes (another big grin from Morgana!). They also want to have cards printed up that has "DON'T PANIC!" on the front, and on the back something like (and I forget the exact words) "I find you very attractive and would like to go into the bushes with you. Please say 'Yes," but if not, please say 'No' kindly; we both deserve the respect." or something like that. These cards would be handed out at the gate as people arrive.
So what do I think of all this?! Seems like it's more work than it's worth! I very much like the idea of a woman feeling safe and secure and self-determined enough to come right out and tell me she finds me appealing and if I care to discuss any mutual attraction. But I just cannot imagine what I would say. I have never rejected a woman sexually, and if such a situation were to come up I'd probably be so surprised I'd say something like "You have GOT to be kidding!" Which would not be too helpful for her self-esteem. I know I'm in no danger of ever having to accept or reject anyone sexually, but I suppose it could get difficult to decline with grace.
Still, I get so very lonely at night during Dragonfest. I go to the drum frenzies which last until two in the morning; other groups gather to tell tall tales or to sing dirty songs. It's hard to say good-night to the women I find very attractive and hike back to my tent alone.
This is NOT the behavior these women and men want in "mundane" life; only in Pagan circles and festivals. Most people in the community know each other; if someone is an ass or a jerk, that person is ejected from the festival and not invited back--- something that can't work in life outside the close-knit Earth-based religion community (we police ourselves ruthlessly because we don't want outside police doing it, along with the media that might generate).