False news is a big topic these days. As it should be. Anyone can write anything they want about anything, publish it on the internet, and we believe it as truth.
Is it time then, to talk about its sister problem, which is false accusations? You can also make claims about anyone. Wives accuse x-husbands of sexually abusing the kids in order to wrangle sole custody. Politicians attack their opponent’s character to sway votes. Businessmen use slander campaigns against competitors to steal clients. And, we believe them too. Guilty until proven innocent, right?
Which brings me to the case of thought leader Marc Gafni. I say “case” with a chuckle. Marc over the years has been my friend, roommate, colleague, advisor — all of these things, but never my lover. Which makes me uniquely qualified to comment on the sexual integrity claims that have been made against him.
Over the last 12 years I’ve watched him be accused of (in no particular order) sexual coercion, being a predator of women, sleeping with students, and the big one; preying on young girls. These claims have been made over and over, with the same examples recirculating, to the point where they’re as predictable as traffic.
They’re recirculating because a group of Marc’s competitors who want to take him down keep bringing them back again and again. At least ten articles have been written exposing the source and motives for this deliberate and extended smear campaign, but it seems no one cares so long as we get to read another scandalous article that demonizes a famous person.
Now, is Marc a saint when it comes to sex and love? No way. I don’t think any of us are. Myself included.
The question is though, was Marc so out of line in his personal relationships that he deserves to be publicly attacked and also castrated from his ability to teach, as some online activists in the smear campaign have suggested again and again for ten years?
Let’s break it down, starting with sexual coercion. In Israel 2 women claimed Marc promised each of them marriage if they would sleep with him, which is a felony offense in Israel. Because they had access to his computer, they also erased it so he couldn’t prove whether it was true or not and defend himself.
He paid a lot of money to recover his computer — ultimately showing that the relationships were in integrity and mutually agreed upon — the opposite of what the women claimed. He also found out later that the men behind the claims told the media they had registered the complaints with the police, which wasn’t true. But all of this now, alas, doesn’t matter, for the resulting public hysteria which was enough to make him leave Israel, remains. None of this new info gets out, because it’s not as good a click bait as the original “scandal”. Welcome to Fake News.
Marc came from Israel to my house. I witnessed him going through deep suffering and confusion. He had loved and trusted those women, so he was crushed. He had clearly made mistakes in judgement, but I wondered, was it what these women claimed he did? And more importantly, was the “punishment” justified. The punishment being, of course, the implosion of his established home, life and work.
After looking at all the evidence (recovered emails, lie detector test done with the best in the business etc.) and using my own common sense, what it appeared he’d done wrong was not propose marriage to different women in order to have sex, which was what the press claimed. It was simply not true. Marc was like a rock star in Israel. People like Keith Richards don’t have to promise marriage in order to have sex.
It also became clear that he had not sexually harassed anyone. In knowing him as well as I do, too, I could never picture him doing such a thing. That is just not who he is. I am sure about that.
Instead, the problem lay here:
I once dated an actual rock star. And while I would have loved for him to have picked me out of the thousands of women available to him, I didn’t let myself fall under any kind of delusion that he might — because I knew what I was dealing with.
Whereas with Marc, we’re just not sure what we’re dealing with. He’s a mutant. He’s like a human experiment in Eros. He’s all about love — to all genders. He even wrote a book called The Erotic and the Holy. And when a guy radiates love and Eros like that, not only can that be VERY alluring…
But also, confusing. I’m sure these women then, were deeply shocked once they realized that to this loving man, they weren’t his one and only — regardless of the fact exclusivity had never been discussed. The email records show in detail that these were sweet friendships, sometimes intense, playful and always loving and kind on Marc’s side, like what we’d call friends with occasional benefits. No one under these circumstances would assume exclusivity, from a rock star or from anyone for that matter. In fact the email record shows that Marc was absolutely clear on his intentions. But with Marc, these women lashed out at him like many hurt women do, hoping to gain some power over their hurt. The evidence shows that they were also egged on behind the scenes by former associates of Marc with opportunity on their minds, disguised the public, as concern for “victims”.
Which brings us to the next claim, which has been made; that he is a predator who manipulates and preys on women. This accusation reappears anytime Marc doesn’t leave a girlfriend in his wake feeling warm and fuzzy.
Now, I’ve also left a few men cold in my own wake. But the difference is, I was not a spiritual teacher during these times, nor was I as famous as Marc, nor was I a man. Nor did my ex-lovers have an established slander campaign against me on which to stack their upset. Nor were my industry competitors hungry to get me out of their way and willing to stoke and feed whatever message it takes to accomplish their ends. If all that had been the case, would they have gone after me hoping to publicly destroy my life and career? Sad to say, in today’s world, likely yes. Especially because they can hide behind their claims with some lick of truth. All I can say is, good thing I’m also not a man.
All of this reminds me of the victim-villain-hero triangle. It takes more than one person to create such drama, doesn’t it? I’m curious why I’ve not yet seen these ‘victimized’ women fully owning their own contribution to the problem. I’ve also not seen the male ‘heroes’ standing behind these women egging them on, be exposed for their contribution to the triangle, or any discussion on what their shadow might be. Any time I see such omissions, I am naturally very suspect. Just like any time you only get one side of the story, about anything — never mind about sex and love, I know that is not an accurate portrayal of the whole truth.
For me the whole truth includes this: each time I watched Marc’s being dragged through the mud, I saw him wondering what he did wrong. I saw him willing to apologize to anyone he’s ever hurt. Remember, Marc is all about love — right? That’s what I witnessed. I also noticed, in the years we lived together as roommates then remained close after that, never once did he try to coerce or prey on me sexually. And mind you I am totally hot, smart, and his type, and was single during much of that time. He was also never inappropriate, and was only the kindest, most loving of friends.
As a result, I have a hard time buying into the ‘Marc as predator’ mentality. Nor I do not feel like I need to be protected from him, which is what all these naysayers claim needs to happen.
And so, time passed. Other accusations sowed up, sleeping with students being next. Sorry Marc, I told him, especially given the circumstances, that’s just a bad idea. Problem is, I realized: Marc’s whole life is being a teacher. Even if he were to go on a Tinder date tomorrow, that woman would immediately be a student of his. There simply is no discrepancy between Marc the person and Marc the teacher. So what then, to do? Not date at all? I’m pretty sure every significant spiritual teacher in the world dates students for exactly this reason. My husband is a student of my work, but should that ruin me?
Now, I do get that we do have to tread very carefully. I see Marc now being very public about his polyamorous relationships. He learned that his sex and love life cannot be private. And because people have a platform to attack him anytime he so much as hiccups, Marc knows he has to be more transparent than most.
The point is, I’ve seen him learn, the hard way. The painful way. Which makes the final accusation the most difficult to discuss.
The men behind the women, the ones who stood to gain the most by the slander campaign, keep dredging up something from his adolescence and early adulthood, anytime there’s a lull. They call the media, anonymously, to re-reveal his sexuality in the 70’s when he was a teenage boy and then a young man having two different necking experiences with high school girls. Always looking for a scoop, the media then spin a picture as if he was molesting, at age 54, just yesterday, these girls. These accusations even showed up yet again in the New York Times, never clearly mentioning this happened over 36 years ago when Marc was 19.
I have my own memories of when I too was a teenager, in the 80’s. I wasn’t just fooling around back then, but actually having sex with boys about the same age difference between Marc and these 2 girls. I remember, there wasn’t any mention of that being inappropriate back then. It was a different world.
So, it confounds me, why these keep coming up. He has owned his mistakes and apologized. And just to say –he did another polygraph test with the best guy in the business, who said that there was less than .01 percent chance he was not telling the truth about the nature of these relationships. So these stories from 35 years ago, have from this and other resources, even long since been discredited.
Which brings me back to his shadow. Why do these things keep recycling and following him around, when no one else seems to have this problem? What exactly is it, that he is not dealing with?
I see this: Marc is a bit too all-about-love for the current world we live in, which as I mentioned can be confusing. In the past, he did try to hide his love life too much. He is also way too good at what he does and that makes other spiritual artists feel inadequate (I know I do).
As for the shadow of his accusers; who stands to gain what, from all this? Claims of victim advocacy, suggesting it is their collective moral duty to protect me and other womankind from Marc? What I see are people disguised as victims, who are themselves perpetrators. They accuse Marc of being selfish, out of integrity, and manipulative, when they themselves are clearly doing exactly that, in their attacks on Marc.
In all this, I’ve also learned that false news, as with false claims, are never black or white — true or false. They are usually exaggerated news or exaggerated claims. For doesn’t it always seem there is some element of truth in them, that can keep the argument going?
I’ve also learned that we as a society crucify those who are different from us — certainly our leaders. But one has to wonder: is it ultimately about them as individuals, or is it more about something going on in our culture that is a bit off; which is a complete unwillingness from all parties involved, to see and own ones shadow.
As for me and Marc. I see a friend as this: someone who knows how ridiculous, crazy and complex you are, but wants to hang out with you anyway. I know Marc as my sweet, loving, pain in the ass friend, and he knows I am a pain in the ass right back, but we want to hang out with each other anyway. I’m sure it’s that way with all the people in my life.
Plus, he’s also a good person who wants to make a difference, and I’ve seen him teach about Love and Eros. Mesmerizing. Marc is a genius at what he does, and hands down is the most poetic and gorgeous teacher I’ve ever witnessed. I always leave my time with him feeling a deeper sense of love and connection to not just him, but to the others in the room, and to the whole of humanity.
And to me, that is always what’s most important.