illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)
Don't you find it tiring that, whenever anyone suggests or promotes greater freedom for women (notably freedom from fear and social programming [regarding what to wear, how to behave, how to enjoy life and/or sexuality, how to 'appear' submissive, how to use seduction, etc, and stressing how important what others think is]), a very common thought arises for most men, a thought which basically says "Oh! yeah, I'd like that! 'Free women', I'd have a great time!" (and more often than not, a "great 'sexual' time")?
Let's be clear about one thing: the promotion of freedom for women is not about increasing the opportunities for men to cling to their own automatic responses!
The promotion of freedom for women is simply a reminder that the promotion of freedom is for all (which —unfortunately— requires a regular reminder that women are included in this 'all', to counteract some 'traditional' views). As I was commenting in relation to nun ordination recently, "tradition is tradition" to the exact extent that "tradition is not the Dharma": traditional views are not inherently the proper 'conservation' of wholesome teachings or right views. Moreover, even if the conservation was affirmed, this would still say nothing about actual suitability to the current context (the context is impermanent by nature).
But the message is also about the promotion of freedom for men, and that includes freedom from their own social programming, a culturally-strengthened conditioning which insists they should jump on every 'opportunity' they come across, or at least should consider/think about doing so.
As with all other social issues, the fight against sexism starts within ourselves and within our own mind. So let me describe what state men need to go through before thinking they might be free enough, as men, to fully enjoy free women around them without giving into the automatism i.e. without losing their own freedom!
The day you're actually free and can indeed enjoy sexuality without attachment, without clinging, is the day when you notably do not cling to 'roles.' This seems pretty obvious… but most men who claim they'd like having "free women" around are wholly hypocritical about this point.
It starts with "free women would be great" only applies to whoever they like or fancy, but does not apply to their partners, their daughters, their sisters, their mother and aunts… What is the sense of "if I love you, then please don't be free" exactly?
Men may be able to enjoy the company of free women, only the day they stop considering that their partner having sex with someone else would automatically trigger a separation or a divorce! I'm not saying they should be 'happy' about it, but karmic freedom requires them to be free to respond, i.e. the response should not be known in advance (otherwise, it's prejudice, not adaptation to there-and-then)! How many men are clear that, should their partner cheat on them, they would work it out (and notably consider their own failings and work at remedying them) rather than automatically throwing the towel and seeking a 'purer' model (as if they had nothing to do with what happened)? Don't get me wrong: maybe a separation would be the appropriate response! But how would you know so in advance, if not for clinging to prejudices and expectations and a doomed sense/quest of permanency?
It goes on with "free women would be great" applies because it'd be so great if women could freely respond to being desired, right? But, of course, "freely respond" is valued only if it matches the desire of the man hoping for "free women". This has nothing to do "appropriately respond". This has nothing to do with wanting women to be freer to say 'no'. This has nothing to do with allowing women to change their mind after foreplay (or even later) and decide that actually "just a clothes-on cuddle" is what they'd like right now. For a man to be free, or to respond appropriately, means he would never make a woman feel she has to have sex (or continue to have) "because she went too far to go back"… That is to say for a man to be free requires him to be happy for what he got, free from some expectation that it's his 'right' or his 'need' to 'complete' whatever.
It continues with "free women would be great" applies because it is considered that more love-making is great, more partners is great, more exploration of weird fantasies is great… as long as it goes in the sense of the male desire.
Because, funnily enough, most men who would happily promote sexual open-mindedness for women (so that they can get their desires fulfilled by them) are not exactly open-minded themselves about being desired. Oh, they think they are open-minded, should they be desired by a hot blonde or some other fantasy they have, but that's not open-mindedness, that's more like "I won't even consider the possibility of 'sexual misconduct' if such an opportunity arises: I'll jump with both feet and I'll consider consequences later." That's not open-mindedness, that's not freedom, that's the bondage of mental fabrications and fantasies controlling your life!
Is being free to appropriately respond when desired, so great that it should be promoted for women unconditionally? No, this remains conditional, but more often that not, it is indeed a wholesome promotion (given their social circumstances).
Does it apply to men? Similarly. What does it mean though? When are men free exactly? When they can imagine having sex without consequences with whoever they fancy? That's not freedom, that's the very delusion that desire can indeed be fulfilling, ignoring the very nature of desire, the endless quest for more, and then more… That's ignorance from how dissatisfaction arises! That's ignorance of dukkha.
Most men who would like to have many more "free women" around them are missing one important point: if being desired by a male and responding to it by receiving the male inside one's body is so fantastic for one's freedom, then you're free as men the day you can consider this for yourself rather than for others. It's like the moral precepts: wholesome considerations are here to guide you, not for you to judge others and cling to some self-righteousness!
So, if you're free men, then having gay friends who have sexual desire for you and would like to penetrate you should be fine with you… It doesn't mean you should participate; freedom from aversion is not found into switching from one extreme to the other extreme. Just like "free women" would respond appropriately, not necessarily accordingly to your wishes, you should respond appropriately to your aroused gay friend, and that may mean 'no'. But it's not a 'no' out of aversion, not a 'no' out of clinging to your endangered masculinity, or whatever mental fabrication… That's just a 'no' because the context and circumstances are not the appropriate ones for a 'yes'.
In the social programming affecting women, there is the idea that "receiving someone is a way to give", and this is actually a rather wise perspective. The day men are free, and thus in a place to actually truly enjoy having free women around them, is the day they can understand their own sexuality as 'receiving' when appropriate (and yes, it can be about receiving what a woman gives, don't get stuck with the idea of the gay friend…).
The idea of receiving is the idea of being open and vulnerable and responding to the need of the other while forgetting oneself. All without it becoming a competition or a pressure to 'perform', both being self-centred concerns.
Free men, like free women, are able to 'stop' at any time (no clinging to the process which was happening), they're also able to 'start' at any time (because it's the appropriate response for the circumstances). Some 'spiritual' men actually struggle with the last one, as they lose lust for sexuality (so far so good) but they develop aversion instead, to the point of becoming un-responsive to their wives —which is not the 'appropriate' response if they're married! And, of course, they'd still expect their partners to stay around, and be faithful —which is even less appropriate!
So, to conclude, is the world a better place when women are freer? Yes, but it's about all human beings being freer.
When this happens, when men and women get free from automatic responses, it becomes possible to ask your dear and quite possibly beautiful friends (male and female, of any sexual orientation) to e.g. pose nude for you for some artistic project, or it becomes possible to share a sauna or a jacuzzi without fretting because someone has forgotten their bathing suit… It becomes possible for an abbott of a monastery in Korea to ask the monks and nuns in residence to pose naked (and even together) for the photographer Atta Kim, without it becoming 'promiscuity'. Basically, freedom allows inter-dependence to be experienced differently. It becomes an actualisation of the main 'precept': "do not hurt!" It becomes possible to see that nudity does not automatically lead to sexuality, that sexual arousal does not automatically require release or satisfaction, that freedom does not automatically lead to sexuality (just because of sexual desires having been repressed until then, switching from an extreme to the other?), or even… that some advice to women is not an appropriate context to calculate how one 'self' would benefit (from women following the advice), but a context to reflect on how to work on oneself!
Hopefully, you will have read the above understanding that sexuality or desires in themselves are not wrong, and that social 'morality' is not a universal permanent unconditional guideline to what's 'appropriate' (I don't mean 'appropriate' in the sense of 'socially-acceptable', but in the sense of "what's needed in the situation at hand")… But 'freedom' is not out of causality, out of the world, i.e. it is not out of responsibility… Freedom is found in not letting sexuality or desires choose your life for you, in not letting them decide your actions for you… It is not in suppression, it is not in indulgence, it is in always keeping the ability to (responsibly) choose. It's as hard for men to free themselves from their conditioning, as it is for women!
PS: yes, I am well-aware that not all men will have all the above lust-based or aversion-based 'automatic' reactions or mental fabrications. Men are as 'varied' as women are. Hopefully, most will still have at least one idea to work on: e.g. many men supporting gay mariage "in principle" are still allergic to the idea of themselves being desired by another man (I'm not even talking about responding to such a desire!)… Many will also lie to themselves, although their actual life somehow does not match the lie (women around them may be wary of appearing too 'free', i.e. the man contributes to the women feeling unsafe but the man still imagines he's free while in actuality he's obsessed! Some women have their own freedom to work on, but if all of them around you appear reluctant to freer-but-still-appropriate interaction, then the common point is you…).