By Betty Martin, Certified Cuddle Party Facilitator, Seattle
Cuddle Party is not about sex. Therefore, it’s not about gender.
It’s about people, kindness, touch and communication.
However, we realize that it’s a question that comes up, and many people are just not yet at the place where they are comfortable with people of the ‘wrong’ gender. It’s understandable and deserves some thought.
What is comfortable?
Most people are more comfortable when there is at least an approximately equal mix of men and women. An event with more men than women will often make the men a bit uncomfortable because the number of women feels ‘scarce’, and will make women a bit uncomfortable because they feel some pressure to supply the men with something (attention) that it is not actually their job to supply.
Ironically, an event with more women than men usually finds everyone more comfortable. Go figure.
For reasons unknown except to the vagaries of sociology, in the US, men tend to sign up for Cuddle Parties more quickly than do women. If we seek to get at least somewhere in the range of equal attendance, we often have to give the women extra encouragement, or seek them out.
Perhaps this is because women are less likely to trust the emotional safety of exploring boundaries and touch, or perhaps they are less touch starved than many men. Who knows?
In Australia, the mix is the opposite. Many more women sign up earlier, and usually outnumber the men. Go figure, again.
About Learning and Healing
But it remains: Cuddle Party is about people, kindness, sharing support and learning boundaries and communication. These are possible with people of any gender and in fact, are often easier to learn with the gender that you are not usually sexual with.
I have seen many people gently explore being even just a little close to the ‘wrong’ gender and discover a whole new sense of heart and affirmation. In fact, some of the most profound learning and healing has come in these situations.
This was the case with one of our early Cuddle Parties here in Seattle, when 6 women did not show up, and the party consisted of myself (a woman), one other woman, and 10 men. One left right away, a couple of others after a short cuddle, and the rest experienced some amazing gentle connections and discovery of brotherly support. It is unlikely that would have happened if there had been ‘plenty’ of women to cuddle with.
To Gender Balance or Not?
The choice to attempt a gender balance is up to the individual facilitator. In Seattle, we do not gender balance our events, for several reasons.
First, it is not the point.
Second, it rarely works anyway. Even if the same number of men and women register, there are always a few who do not show up. Seems to be the way it is.
We do, however, try to be somewhere in the ball park, and inform people so they can make their own choices.
Safety to explore
It is not the job of the facilitator to supply you with enough people of the gender you prefer. It is the job of the facilitator to create and hold the safety for you to explore, experience, learn and enjoy.
It is possible to do this with people of any gender. We hope you will join us.