If women are to be regarded equal in value in the world and our power and the medicine we bring, honoured, then I believe that part of what we must move towards is men learning to meet their feelings of inferiority and smallness, if or when they arise. Of course we all have feelings of being small and insecure – and so much of the bullshit that happens in the world is due to all of us avoiding and compensating for these uncomfortable feelings. But in this case I am particularly addressing when men do this in response to the ‘strong woman’.
Looking around me, I see so much behaviour in heterosexual dynamics involving men avoiding situations in which their sense of masculinity is threatened, by feeling out of their depth, lost or smaller than women. Sometimes avoiding intimate encounters with women they deem as strong all together, sometimes habitually going for younger, less experienced women so they can maintain their sense of pseudo-masculinity.
I get it. We have been conditioned to have very narrow ideas on what it is to be a man. Men are meant to be consistently cool and in control and masterful. But if you want to be an ally towards women, supporting our ability to rise, to speak up, to shine our essence and medicine into a world that so desperately needs it, as a man there will be times where you will feel small.
You will feel overwhelmed.
You will feel lost and confused.
And that’s ok.
And if as women we expect men to become friends with these feelings in response to us, then we have a responsibility to stop thinking of men who are vulnerable in the presence of our power and complexity as ‘weak’. We have a responsibility to challenge our definitions of masculinity and to see how they may not be serving us. We have a responsibility for our actions to be in integrity and to stop protecting men from feeling small and stop protecting ourselves from the discomfort of feeling like we’re too much. And of course above everything, we have a responsibility to give ourselves the permission we so long for from the outside.
What would the world be like if we acknowledged that feeling out of our depth and unsure of ourselves is not only part of life, but a frequent and potentially welcome consequence when learning and growth occurs?
Fuck being a ‘real’ man, whatever that is.
Fuck the polished, inflated exteriors and the limiting ideas of what we think is expected of us. Being a real human being involves befriending ourselves in our entirety and realising that feeling weak or small at times is part of life.
Women… fact: if you suppress your own sexuality, you are very likely projecting this onto others, including men.
If you are not allowing yourself to be comfortable as a sexual being, if you are not at ease with your own initiator and your inner beast-slut-holy-whore, there is a higher chance that when a man is sexually suggestive to you, you will be triggered and take umbrage, as he is flaunting something you don’t have access to – that’s how shadows work.
Why does this matter?
Because post #metoo we are riding a panic wave where men are being demonised and called out and potentially charged with actions which are not crimes, but just make a woman feel a way she doesn’t want to feel. Of course there are cases of rape and sexual misconduct, but I am not talking about those. I am talking about being looked at a certain way, being flirted with or being at the receiving end of someone being sexually suggestive.
Women who suppress their own sexuality and are repulsed by men’s sexuality and perpetuate the demonisation of it, are shooting ourselves in the foot. We are going to create a world with a lot of miserable men – just as we would be if we had to hide and feel ashamed of a part of us – and a world in which men oscillate between being lifeless and dull in the bedroom, and probably more likely to commit genuine acts of sexual misconduct because whatever shadows we have must come out in dysfunctional ways. By entering into this dynamic we’re also acting like delicate victims men need to pussyfoot around, instead of the bad-ass, resilient, capable creatrixes we are….
If you are tutting at men as being sex pests and haven’t had a good old look at yourself and how you are potentially contributing towards this war between genders, then you are most definitely part of the problem.
EDIT TO ADD:
I find it fascinating that we can read things in such a polarised way with no appreciation for nuance and multiple truths. I could have written a lot more, encompassing other layers, but chose not to otherwise it would make my post too long.
For the record:
I am not criticising the #metoo movement as a whole. I think it’s casting a powerful ripple in the world, the possibility of bringing justice, raising awareness, empowering women, supporting a movement towards healing something. As someone drawn to an enquiry into women’s empowerment and shadow integration, I find the #metoo movement exciting and also dangerous, if it stays on surface level.
By addressing women, I am not suggesting that men do not have work to do too! By talking about heterosexual dynamics, I am not negating that some people don’t identify within this or that genders outside of the binary system exist.
By describing a distinct phenomena, which I believe would benefit from being talked about, I am not saying that most abuse claims are false or saying that #metoo is about sexual suggestiveness. Of course not. There is terrible violence and abuse in the world and #metoo is bringing some of that to justice. I am also not saying that it’s not sometimes appropriate or understandable to be grossed out or pissed at men for being sexually suggestive. And I am definitely not saying that women attract or deserve to be harassed because of repression.
And finally, even if I sound a bit stern in my writing, I believe in tenderness, kindness and compassion for all beings, especially around this topic.
Flirting is a form of nourishment: when we allow ourselves to be curious about each other and for eros to flow between us, some kind of life-affirmation button in our system is switched ON, we feel alive, we feel turned on by life, we allow ourselves to get juicy on life.
We don’t have to limit our flirting to humans – have you ever flirted with a tree? Admired and complimented it’s phallic magnificence and felt its little blush of pride at being appreciated? Flirting can make us feel enamoured and enchanted with the world, happy to be alive…
Flirting is the dance between us – it’s not a one way thing. I send you an impulse through an action – a glance, a wink, a remark – and I wait and see what comes back. Flirting is a way of creating artistry through desire, exploring and celebrating the space between us. It invites a mastery of subtlety as we read signals and take delight in how so little can create so much.
But where is there room for this in a world so riddled by gender conditioning and gender wars? Where men are programmed to be the chasers and women passive bystanders – where is the dance in that? In our urban, intensity-junky societies, where is the possibility for tuning into and appreciating subtleties? In a consumer-driven world that’s so goal driven, where is the space for flirting just for the love of the moment, the love of play, without expectations? In the current climate of #metoo and so many of us women being so vigilant and trigger-ready, how can men find the volition to flirt, when they might be accused of inappropriate behaviour? How can women feel the volition to initiate, when our cells contain so many stories of feeling overwhelmed by unwanted male desire?
Due to this, in this day and age, true flirting – the dance between us and reading of subtleties – almost feels like a form of activism, chipping away at our tragic history and creating a new narrative.
I’m tired of being in spaces that either feel like meat-markets with no reverence or appreciation of subtlety, or spaces where we are acting like we are castrated, too weighed down with our history of trauma and transgressions, where play between us feels too complex to even bother with, so we just detach from our bodies, our curiosity and desire. That’s so sad! I want to live in a world in which eros is celebrated, where we value being juicy and turned on by life. A world in which we are fully connected with our inner initiator and our yes’s and no’s, where we strive to become artists of desire, masterful in play and the space between us.
During my first professional sexuality training, I was explicitly encouraged to have no boundaries. If there was a man I didn’t want to do an intimate exchange with, I was told I should work through my resistance, that my boundaries were due to my ‘issues’. And so I did. When the exercise one afternoon was having my genitals touched by every single man in the group, one after the other, I went with it. My trauma was triggered so hard that I disassociated and couldn’t make eye contact or speak properly for 24 hours. Now, seven years later, I find myself working through layers of trauma that I accumulated through this sexual ‘healing’ training.
I was guided to become a somatic sex educator and work giving sessions to others, and we did not learn ANYTHING about trauma and having boundaries. The world is reeling from the #metoo movement and the ‘conscious’ sexuality scene too is so rife with the overstepping of boundaries, it’s absurd. Sometimes these transgressions are big – like teachers seducing students – but more often than not, we overstep our boundaries so consistently in smaller, subtler ways, that we’re not even aware of it until they accumulate to the point that a seemingly minor transgression creates a large trigger.
One of the effects of trauma is that we disconnect from our bodies and their guidance – thereby opening ourselves up to an increased likelihood of overstepping our boundaries, triggering our trauma and accumulating even more. Combine this truth with our contemporary urban lifestyles + fried nervous systems + our need for intensity + the world of conscious sexuality events with facilitators who have very little understanding of trauma = total clusterfuck and recipe for disaster!!
While this movement of conscious sexuality workshops and events has been wonderful for supporting us to release shame, I dread to think of the trauma that has been accumulated in them.
If there is anything I have learned in these years it is to slow down and work with subtleties. Having adventures and learning sexual/spiritual techniques in a workshop can be fun, but for me where the real power lies is learning to tune into the subtleties of our bodies and trusting their wisdom again, remembering that what is most important is ensuring we are in our integrity in every single encounter we engage in, moment to moment.
Whenever I or others question anything about women and victimhood, there are often accusations of being misogynist, which – as someone who has devoted a good portion of my life to loving the Feminine and supporting women’s empowerment – is so far from the truth I struggle to find the motivation for self-defence.
I love women!! And in my bones I know that the story that we’re feeding ourselves about women being victims to the evils of patriarchy is not as simple as that.
On one level women are genuine victims to countless accounts of oppression and abuse. And on another hand, we’ve not really been very smart…
…Yes, I love women!!… and I say it again: I don’t think we’ve been very smart!!
If we really wanted to stop oppression, couldn’t we have done?
What would have happened if we had stopped having sex with men who are oppressors? If we only had sex with men who cherished the earth? Is the reality really as black and white that we have been completely helpless? An opinion could be that we would have been forced and raped and killed and had no choice. Or another opinion could be that we have had more choices but we chose to go against our integrity and chose the easier option. We chose wealth and status and security over our love and guardianship over the planet.
How come no one is talking about that? Can we face that truth and still have compassion and understanding for women?
Can we love women and see them as divine incarnations, but still stumbling and learning and making mistakes, just as men?
I think it’s great to bring anything in the shadows out into the open like the #metoo movement has. It’s a really exciting time right now! And yet my fear is that without diving into deeper layers, we forget about some things I believe are really important:
a) It perpetuates the idea that men are perpetrators and women are innocent victims, who unlike men, don’t have any issues with abusive power dynamics. This is not so! Putting men in the box of perpetrators is demeaning and belittling and I believe perpetuates that reality – and ultimately we end up using our victim-status to steal back our power. This is not to say that individual women who have come out with their #metoo’s are over-identifying with being victims – I am talking about a larger, more pervasive cloud that hovers over us collectively, that we are largely unaware of.
b) It ignores the fact that although there are many cases of ‘no’s’ being ignored, many of us are not good at setting boundaries and there are also grey cases where there is not an explicit ‘no’, although it is invading a boundary. By writing this I do not mean that women who aren’t able in the moment to say no are not victims or deserve being abused. I’ve been there myself many times, and we deserve enormous compassion and understanding too.
c) It creates further fear and suppression of our sexuality. I believe one of the reasons we have such rampant levels of sexual abuse is because of sexual repression. Our sexual energy is the strongest force we have – we need more education and encouragement on how to be sensual, erotic beings with reverence and respect for one another. We need to find more ways to see the sacred in our sexuality – rather than oscillating between repression and exploitation. At the root of a man’s desire for sex – even if expressed in a distorted and inappropriate way – is something sacred.
If the #metoo movement doesn’t create more of a feeling that we’re all in this together… that as well calling out and facing the shadow of abuse and saying ‘enough is enough’, we women look at our own shadow of how we have contributed to this world and start focusing on what the most powerful course of action now is, then I believe this movement has failed. Yes we need anger and indignation and calling out. But it’s the first step of a longer journey…
Ultimately, on a deeply transpersonal level, the only conclusion that I can come to is that on some kind of soul level, we women agreed to give our power away and men agreed to abuse it, so that we would learn about power. Through the countless tragedies, we can see and experience it’s abuse when it arises from separation, scarcity and a need to control, and it’s sacred purpose of creating beauty and cultivating togetherness in the world…and have our hearts broken and opened in deep love and compassion to one another in the process.
I often wish I had never been exposed to ‘spiritual’ literature and philosophies. Especially the maxim ‘happiness is an inside job’.
Sure, there is truth in that. But our ‘spirituality’ emanates from the paradigm we are embedded in… and we end up using spirituality to e.g greedily manifest like good little consumers, or in the above example, make life tolerable so we can continue being good little consumers playing along with the system, when in fact there might be a very good reason we feel miserable.
Every time I tell myself I ‘should’ feel happy, I realise it is an act of subtle violence against myself.
Our emotions are our soul speaking that something needs addressing.
Maybe there is a reason we are depressed or sad or angry or frustrated. Maybe the current ways most of us live without even really thinking about – striving for independence, devoid of real community, needing to spend most of our awake hours working to financially survive – is not actually what makes us happy? How tragic then to not listen to the signs of our bodies and beings that are always tapped into truth – and just to tell ourselves to be grateful and happy. What a sign of courage and true strength, to allow ourselves to feel deeply.
When combined with our heart and our awareness we can use our sexuality for its highest purpose: embracing, feeling deeply connected to and riding the very crest of life’s creative expression through us. Allowing our lust for and communion with life. But how to allow it when we fear falling into stereotypes or clichés? How to dance with it when we have such few role models, when we only know female sexuality through and for the male gaze? When we fear judgement and competition? Who gets to decide anyway? I am my own permission-granter. I dance for me, I dance for the world. My rules, my body, my life.
Women who say yes to themselves as sovereign, sexual beings are powerful creatures.
And that is a scary thing for us in a world with a paradigm of scarcity and ‘power over’, in which someone having power, generally means it’s both taken away from someone else and also used for personal gain and exploitation. No wonder we have a history of sexuality being controlled, manipulated, exploited and suppressed.
Women who own themselves as sexual beings might be powerful, but the world doesn’t need more power. The world needs us to open our hearts in deep communion with life, just as much as it needs us to claim our power. It needs us to be tender and vulnerable just as much as it needs us to have agency over our lives. It needs us to take full responsibility and wake up to the ways in which we manipulate to get power and the ways in which we are responsible for continuing to foster a war between genders.
As women we have been oppressed, but we have also been passive. We have been genuine victims and we have also unconsciously manipulated and invited victimhood in our lives in order to feel powerful. Real power involves dropping our stories that don’t serve us and taking full responsibility for our lives and the state of the world. Real power involves giving ourselves the validation and permission we long for from the outside.
The deeper I go into my menstrual cycle awareness, the more I sense that those last few days before bleeding are such an important and precious time for feeling. Whether it’s emotions that I’ve managed to gloss over or suppress the month before, or whether it’s feeling the pain of the world, if I tune into what my being needs or wants to do, it is to feel. There is a growing sense each cycle now that I need this in order to feel in integrity. To protect myself from reality or to numb myself to feeling just doesn’t feel right or healthy or ok.
Sometimes, my tired heart that is still letting go of its protection layer by layer, feels heavy and numb with it all. But sometimes there is a crack in its armouring and the tears flow and I become soft and tender again, alive and vibrating in my grief.
Yes, it hurts but thank fuck I feel alive and connected to myself and the earth and the pulse of life that makes my little heart keep beating. Our ability to feel and to care is our super power. It’s what being intimate with life is all about. It’s what keeps us juicy. It’s what inspires our activism. Let’s remember that next time our inner critic judges us as ‘weak’ for feeling.
What if you paused for a moment… and remembered the soft animal of your body as an extension of the earth. What if you took a breath and sensed your capacity for the exquisite: the simple, sensual communing with life. Is there a pleasure in belonging to her? Of feeling the rhythms of the body synchronized with the beat of her heart?
Why bother making friends with our sexuality? Why lift the lid on pandoras box when it can make us feel such discomfort or fear? Perhaps we feel like we’d rather keep the lid on: after all it’s only sex.
My extensive personal enquiry around sexuality has rewarded me with profound riches and insight, that have so been worth any discomfort I have experienced. Through it, I have been invited (ongoingly) by life to take steps into standing rooted in my power… to own what it is that I desire in life, to be able to express it; to own my right to pleasure in a much greater sense throughout life as a whole; to peel away conditioning in many other areas of life; to understand sexuality in a holistic sense as ‘eros’ – the nourishing, fundamental life-giving force that permeates all – and to feel myself as part of the web of life; to own my allure as a sensual, sexual woman and see what power that has in this world and how to navigate that consciously. And perhaps above all, and the theme that currently fascinates me the most: to begin to see and understand my essence and the gifts that I bring specifically as a woman and as me, to the world. Often this was through struggle: my body reacting in defence and numbness when I am not in my integrity in erotic encounters. And so, bit by bit, I learn that I bring gifts of an innate, embodied understanding of wholeness, of being tapped into the deliciousness of each moment without having goals, of the knowledge that life is flow and life is change, that the deepest ecstasy it to be found in letting go, that beauty is found in subtlety, that being sensitive is a super power and being vulnerable – although by its nature uncomfortable – brings the biggest depth, joy and meaning to life.
One of our first experiences of being alive, of incarnating into the physical realm inside our mothers wombs is being held. I believe we still have this blueprint in our bodies: we hold the cellular memory of being held.
Life is a matrix of multiple layers of holding and being held. Potentially, a foetus is held in the womb, the womb is held by the mother, the mother is held by hr partner (and her home, the partner is held by the tribe…and so on. What else are we or can we be held by? Are we held by the earth? Planetary rhythms and other universal laws? Our breath? Our ancestors or spirit friends? Could those of us who have wombs, also be held somehow within the regular death-rebirth cycle of them? With my lack of any regular structure or routine in my life, and skirting in the unknown so much of the time, I definitely experience myself as being held by the tides of my womb.
And yet how endemic it feels, the feeling of NOT being held, or the deep, aching desire to be held, but the fear that we are too big somehow and no one or nothing around us will manage. This has been a big one for me – I have done so much holding in my life and felt such a scarcity around being held. Through my womb meditations and accessing my cellular memory of being held, I am learning to experience myself and relax into being part of this web of holding and being held.
Some of us tend one way: we tend to be either the holders or the ones being held and the conditioning we have around gender I imagine impacts this considerably. Some of us completely deny our desire to be held. Life is vulnerable and dangerous, and there is no way that we can stay in the safety of a metaphorical womb at all times, however I can’t help but imagine that if we opened ourselves to the possibilities of being held, including these subtler, yet powerful ways, we could transcend our collective existential panic that contributes to our exterminating the planet. Feeling unheld is a pretty disempowered place, perhaps also making us more susceptible to control and manipulation by power-hungry institutions….
On our journey towards empowerment, we are also confronted with the necessity of learning to hold ourselves: doing our best not to run away from uncomfortable feelings when they arise, but to welcome them and allow them to flow. Trying not to perpetually distract ourselves with things outside of us but regularly enquiring within as to how we are and what we need. Not being dependent on others approval of us, but holding and celebrating ourselves in our triumphs and falls, reminding ourselves we are ok as we are. It feels like life is inviting us to both honour ourselves in our vulnerability of desiring to be held – allowing ourselves to ask for that and learn to receive it – AND learn to give ourselves exactly that which we long for from the outside. ♥
You know that thing – where your neediness drives someone else away or vice versa? The more you feel someone’s neediness, the more claustrophobic you feel – or the other way around: the more you feel someone’s avoidance of intimacy with you, the more needy you feel. And into the downward spiral you go.
So many of us spend years in turmoil in relationships like this.
Both movements – running away or towards – ultimately come from the same place. Even the running towards is also a running away – just from oneself. And so often we attract someone with the opposite pattern to us, as life has that funny knack of giving us exactly what we need to bring everything unconscious into the light. So painful though, right?
What to do?
When we have a pattern that keeps repeating, it will continue to do so until we move through all the protective layers and meet and feel what there is to feel. We have to go right into the heart of the exact thing we most definitely do not want to feel. Intellectually understanding a pattern is not enough.
Easier said than done though, as the feelings that come up often originate from experiences we had when we were very, very little, that are often quite existential in nature and are centered on the experience of feeling abandoned. It takes a lot of courage to go there. And there is a time and place for holding and loving yourself in those feelings, and a time and place for asking another to hold space for you. But lovingly meet ourselves in these states, we must.
I believe that if both people in a relationship with this dynamic want to transform it, it IS possible. However if you are in a relationship with someone who has no interest in facing these issues, and you are in a state of perpetual avoidance or distress, I believe it is best to leave. You deserve better. Right? :)
There is so much shame it feels around the fear of abandonment. I see so many beautiful, powerful women who silently carry the secret burden of this with them… And it takes such courage to own these most delicate parts of us. But it is so worth it. By not facing our fears and the way we compensate through them, we continue to pass them down through the generations, continuing the pattern of war between genders. And the world is most definitely ready for that to change
So hungry have we been for permission to be wild and free after the shaming and miserable confines of conditioning around our sexuality, that a new industry of ‘sex-positive’ gatherings, festivals and workshops is booming… a plethora of options available to those seeking a ‘conscious’ path to move beyond shame and embrace their desires. And quite rightly so. To be brazen in our claiming of pleasure as a birthright, to enjoy the freedom to follow what feels right to us – rather than the society around us, to taste the sweet honey of polyamory and multiple partners and fucking our way out of shame…
Don’t get me wrong. I think all this is awesome. And I am really curious what would happen if we paused for a moment to see what is the driving force behind all our pleasure and connection seeking… and whether our strategies for coping with shame are really serving us?
I wonder if on our quest for transcending shame, our unconscious goal is often to reduce sex to a meaningless interaction – a very pleasurable and win-win one – but something we feel like we can wrap our heads around and have power over rather than the other way around. We allow ourselves to forget that we are toying with the most powerful force in the universe, the very spearhead of life’s creative expression. But our pesky hearts often have other ideas and sometimes wake up and remind us of sex’s ability to strip us bare, to poke at the deepest, squishiest and tenderest parts of us.
What is it we are really looking for through our erotic pursuits? What if underneath the flirtations and fumbling foreplay and pleasure-seeking lies something entirely different? To be transported back and enveloped into the loving safety of the womb? To be vulnerable and messy and crack open and be met in our most seemingly unlovable places? I wonder how much we are compensating and actually just want to be loved…
// I realise I say ‘we’ and that my ramblings wont speak to everyone and are geared towards people in ‘sex-positive’ scenes and communities. And beyond this, that hiding behind the ‘we’ is actually an ‘I’ that feels rather shy at being exposed //
I know it’s a tremendously complex issue.
And perhaps I’d do better to stay clear of it, rather than stirring up shit storms…
I just know that the current narrative we have isn’t working and it’s time to create a new one. This is a conversation that needs to be had.
I find it sad that it seems impossible to even have a dialogue about gender conflict and reconciliation and question the current paradigm of women as victims and men as oppressors without being lambasted and accused of victim blaming.
Of course there are genuine victims and genuine perpetrators. On all sides. Women are oppressed, abused and mistreated and more. Men are much more likely to commit suicide, be homeless, suffer from mental health issues, have way tougher prison sentences for the same crimes committed by women and have have hardly any legal custody rights for their children. And the men’s rights movement that seeks to voice these truths has been repeatedly sabotaged by Feminists who feel threatened by the idea that men should be able to have a voice or might also be suffering.
We have to honour that there are victims, there is no escaping that.
AND I see how I have stayed in a victim identity in many moments in my life in order to regain my power over someone and I see how this happens all over the world.
I see how as a woman how I have manipulated and even provoked men to behave badly so that I can have moral superiority and feel powerful and I see this happening in the world.
I have witnessed myself demonising male sexuality when I was actually judging my own sexuality and projecting my fear on to another, contributing towards the very shame that spirals us into dysfunctional sexuality and rape culture.
I have cried for ‘equality’ but secretly meant ‘equality plus special benefits’ and enjoyed benefitting from double standards, such as making sexually lurid comments towards men, or being abusive towards men but being outraged if the roles are reserved. I’d like equality please but can I have it without equal prison sentences or army obligations or equal opportunities in shitty jobs like road-laying, rubbish collection, or coal-mining or other traditionally male jobs?
When I feel into how we associate ‘Patriarchy’ with being bad and ‘Feminism’ with being good, there is something in that narrative that makes me feel really icky inside. The world is full of victim perpetrators dynamics on all levels – politically, economically, between genders and within families and they get passed down one generation to the next and become vortexes, sucking in more and more people.
What can we do to step out and create a new story of peace and collaboration?
Before you tell me what I’m missing or how I’ve got it all wrong: I think the only point that I am making is that it’s more complex than many of us see and there is something about the current narrative that doesn’t ring true for me. And somehow I feel like my soul is woven into this process of reconciliation. I don’t know the answers but I want to dare to talk about it. As a white woman who is most definitely living in very privileged circumstances I feel a mixture of being even more cautious about being a voice, lest I am accused of being blinded from the context in which I speak from, and wanting all the more to be a voice, as the truth in my life and generally all those that surround me is that the times of a simple dynamic between oppressor and oppressed are not what they used to be, and as a woman, stepping out of being a victim and owning my side of things feels like potent activism.
Goddess or Slut?
Artist or Narcissist?
Creatrix of life or big-mouthed bore?
Worthy of shaming or of reverence?
Passionate activism or poor taste?
Take your first thought and turn it around: what does it reveal about you?
I bleed to make human life possible.
My womb is a portal:
a plane between worlds, connecting spirit and matter.
My blood teaches the wisdom of cycles:
of the marriage of life and death,
a gateway out of mans lunacy of linear thinking.
I understand wholeness.
My body dances each month with cosmic tides, rhythms, with forces of elemental power.
When we cultivate our body literacy and start to reclaim the beauty in our blood and listen to its wisdom and teachings, rediscovering our reverence for ourselves and one another, the world WILL change
Masturbation is a way of thanking the universe for having a body.
A possible misfortune of the movement towards ‘conscious’ sexuality is that it polarises us even more into ‘sacred’ and ‘non-sacred’ forms of sexual expression. There is no such thing. There is only a spectrum of consciousness and infinite possibilities, spanning from familiar habits to endlessly new ways of relating.
Regardless of how we self-pleasure – even when we watch porn or it’s an uninspired quickie – we can begin by taking a moment to bless ourselves, honouring that we are giving ourselves pleasure, and that this is a noble and wondrous endeavour! It’s our birthright! Our prayer of thanks to the universe. We are cultivating the very creative energy that gives expression to life.
And above all, let’s make space for curiosity and allow this is lead the way, rather than feeling like we ‘should’ stray off our ingrained paths. Fuck shoulds – they never work! What are we curious about? How could different, lesser-known body parts lead to even more pleasure? How can states of high arousal be used for magic and manifestation? What is it like, to make love to myself with the same tenderness, heart and passion that I would want a lover to bring? And what is this crazy cosmic joke all about, that the most profound treasures are to be found by going against what every fibre in our body wants to do – and not going for peak orgasm?! Someone up there obviously has a rather twisted sense of humour. But orgasm or no orgasm, let’s see beyond self-judgement and a polarised idea of right and wrong. Just infinite possibilities towards penetration of the self and life’s mysteries buried deep within…
On showing off…
What is the difference between showing off, self-expression or art? What is ego-masturbation and what is pure, creative expression of spirit?
Is it either or? And who gets to decide?
To celebrate ourselves and allow our inner worlds to become transparent, to share our spirit and current inspiration generously with the world, to make poetry with life through all the wonderful ways we can express ourselves – this is our birthright. This includes the right to express our sexuality – the mystery connected to our core essence and very existence.
I have blocked my impulse to express myself so many times. Why? That little whisper, ever-ready to intervene… “Don’t be a show off! They will think you are showing off.”
In a world full of hollow narcism, where the constant need to feed off the validation from others is all around us, we are losing the art of soulful self-expression. When it comes to women and sexuality, we are so saturated with images of women seen through the male gaze, conforming to stereotypes of beauty, images whose primary intention is to seek comfort and validation through being desired, that many of us don’t even dare to try.
I know that on one level this goes beyond gender, however I think that women have a particularly hard time in their ability to express themselves, as the judgments are fiercer. When I listen to the inner critic inside me, it rings of an old paradigm, still lingering, in which women are meant to keep quiet and behave. Don’t flaunt it. Don’t draw attention to yourself. Tone it down. Stop trying to get attention. Stop being slutty. And if you want to be slutty, make sure it’s under the power of men.
Fuck it. Let’s be bold. Every time we dare, we strengthen our resolve to stop staying small. We liberate ourselves from the prison of our social conditioning and move towards becoming more sovereign beings, self-responsible for our own power. We unleash our essence into the world and it feels good! And we might inspire someone else to cultivate their self-expression beyond the influence of fear.
Let’s be mindful of the source and the intentions behind our expression but not allow ourselves to become neurotic with self-doubt. The ego is not our enemy, it can function as our friend, if we stay in compassionate self-awareness. Remembering that the response of those who criticise, often says more about them, than it does about us
I know that sexual shaming is rampant universally, but through my work I often come into contact with how women – feeling threatened by male desire – so often shame men, sometimes overtly, but often unconsciously. I know many of us have been victims to men’s desire when it has been transgressive and felt disrespectful or abusive, but when we chronically and toxically shame something, it ultimately perpetuates it. There is a time and a place for naming and shaming, but also just as importantly, a need to look at our self-responsibility.
What if as women, when we experience a man’s desire for us, even if it’s a ‘sleazy’ catcall on the street, we remember just for one instant, that underneath, the sacred force of eros: the cosmic connecting and creative force of life, is at play?
What if we recognized the same force in ourself, that may also been suppressed and shamed?
What if we recognised that the more we surpress something in ourselves, the more it will trigger us when expressed in others – and that the more ease we have with our own desire, the less threatened we feel when we experience desire towards us by another.
There is nothing quite like suffering as a catalyst for climbing the ladder of perspective. Up and up, each rung a slightly more whole picture, a little more Truth. Each step, you realise you feel a little freer. Every time you pause and take a breath and realise you are still suffering, it’s time to climb again and widen that perspective. At some point on the ladder you look down from where you started climbing and realise that each encounter with heartache is a gift for your future self: a hologram, a truth-containing message that once decoded will set you free. . .
Do we dare to believe?
That despite the savageness of the pain and heartache, that the universe is ultimately benevolent?
In this era of abundance of and easy access to intense experiences, there seems to be the tendency to try and cram in as much as possible. Entertainment, festivals, self-development workshops, plant medicine rituals, erotic encounters…we are intensity junkies, our lives a blur, hungrily going from one experience to the next.
The culture of cramming – embedded in a Capitalist, linear system – is a result of our forgetting about the value and importance of cyclical living.
Cyclical living is looking at the natural world around us and its cycles, and seeing how if we wish to live in balance, we cannot value one part of the cycle over another. Cyclical living helps us make the most of and truly honour the deeper experiences we create for ourselves in life.
In the ‘Winter’ or dark moon phase, there is no movement, only stillness and the unknown. This is the phase that gives us the spaciousness to connect with either our rational minds or our intuition and discover what we are drawn to. What will actually serve us? What do we really desire or need? What feels right or what makes sense? When we find our inspiration we move into Spring, or the waxing moon phase…we feel anticipation, we tune in, connect to our intention or do whatever other preparation we need to do. Summer, or full moon and it’s time to immerse ourselves into the experience. Because of the previous two phases that have been honoured, we can really dive deep! Finally, it’s the Autumn or the waning moon part of the cycle and the time for allowing our experience to percolate in our system, to feel the afterglow, to integrate, reflect on what we will take with us and what we have learned.
In an economic system that focuses on constant growth and productivity (the ‘summer’ phase) it is not surprising that we adopt this in our personal lives, even those of us who do not feel particularly supportive of Capitalist principles.
But by going from one intense experience to another and skipping most of the cycle, we are not really honouring our experiences or engaging with life as deeply as we could be. We tend to make poorer decisions, are less present, end up just going through the motions and diminish our capacity for learning. And we are often disrespectful to people and plants (in plant medicine rituals) as a result.
Cyclical Living can be applied to many things, including the way we manifest projects and do business. Wow, would life be different if we looked to nature (and our wombs, for they are also cyclical) for wisdom and inspiration!
“The medical establishment tells us that about 50 percent of women have so-called FSD (female sexual dysfunction). I think the “dysfunction” happens when our body says “NO” to regular old “friction” sex because we long for the “YES” of conscious touch, worship, and honoring of our most sacred temple space within. Perhaps this is wisdom not dysfunction.”
To give and receive is one the most fundamental energetic movements of life. Every breath we take contains this wisdom. And like all the most profound things in life, there lies a paradox – that in its full beauty and potential, by deeply giving we can receive, and by deeply receiving we can give.
But looking out into the world, for the most part it appears we are supremely rubbish givers and receivers… and are not even aware of it! All this beauty and nourishment that mama earth offers us and we’d rather destroy it than receive it. So much martyrdom and boundary-less giving. Taking rather than graciously receiving. So much muddied ‘giving’ as a sneaky attempt to actually get something.
What went so wrong?
When asked, most people will probably say they are more comfortable giving than receiving. In so many ways we have been unconsciously indoctrinated to see being receptive as the weaker position. And when we receive we ARE vulnerable. We’re not as in control as when giving. Our defenses our down. We run the risk of desiring and not getting our desires met. Or the vulnerability in getting our desires met and the intensity of joy this might create, which we humans, tragically seem to be afraid of or feel we don’t deserve.
And I believe that the two poles go hand in hand… when we cannot receive properly, we cannot truly give and vice versa.
When we are not able to receive properly and stick to our comfort zone of ‘giving’, without realising it, we are often taking, rather than giving, and giving in a way that primarily feels good to us. I have had countless intimate encounters asking to receive something else and a man losing his interest suddenly, because it’s not within his agenda and/or because his ego is so wrapped up in being a good ‘giver’. Tragically, I think that women are so used to being taken from in the name of ‘giving’, that most of the time we don’t even realize. And not to single out men, of course women are just as culpable – I have given affection and attention to men in order to receive validation back my whole life long. My self-doubt has caused me to block myself from receiving properly, creating chronic burn outs. My own struggles are definitely the catalyst for my work.
I believe that learning how to give and receive deeply is such a powerful key to dancing masterfully with life, healing the planet and living in our potential.
How do our dysfunctional patterns around giving and receiving in an intimate encounter affect what happens in the rest of our lives? What does the complex interplay of biology and gender conditioning have to do with it? How do we allow ourselves to receive deeply and fully? What do boundaries have to do with giving and how are we able to give with joy and devotion, from an empowered place?
What is strength?
I am being spanked so hard by life right now, so magnificently confronted with what feels like every single limiting belief I have around what it is to be strong. Lovingly yet firmly guided, to see that anything other than truly walking my talk is no longer possible.
Awakening from a life-time of judging and inwardly condemning that which I have perceived as weak, the consequence of my obsession of staying ‘strong’, is that I am chronically exhausted, have frequently isolated myself and created a life that is no longer sustainable, nor enjoyable.
Maybe it’s because me and life have been having some heart to hearts recently, and came to the consensus this can’t really continue, and so I get to have a series of chances to let old beliefs die, one after the other…. my fear of asking for help, depending on others, feeling and caring deeply, showing emotion publicly, admitting struggle, owning my needy little girl, surrendering, trusting and opening my heart to a man again. I have spent a life-time keeping certain sides of myself secret, because I have deemed them as weak.
The paradox: what if we discover our strength by owning and revealing the parts of us we judge as weak?
This is me.
Tender and fierce, melancholy and exuberant, full of doubt and self-possession, breakable and resistant, capable and yet utterly dependent, wild and contained, a wise witch and a lost little girl.
There is nothing that I am not.
When I was younger, I used to think that the way we free ourselves from the repression of our sexuality was to reduce sex until it became meaningless, to have no boundaries, because boundaries meant shame and shame was bad. It took me hanging out at a porn shoot in L.A for a week and witnessing the extent to which sex can be meaningless, to see that I was climbing the wrong mountain, and that I did not feel free or at ease at all on my quest.
Being involved in the burgeoning ‘conscious sexuality’ scene these last ten years, continuing my quest of peeling away layers of conditioning, I have often felt like a freak or misfit and doubted myself. I have never really enjoyed going to play parties. My lovers are few and far between. I do not always want to be physically close or hug people all the time, like is often the case in this scene.
I realise now that there has always been a subtle undercurrent pervading this scene: the belief that being sexually liberated means having few or no boundaries. The sexually liberated woman is always up for it, and if she isn’t, it must be because of her frigid conditioning. Maya Yonika talks about ‘Patriarchal Tantra‘ in her article, which has some pretty astute observations!
Liberation lies in deeply listening to and honouring ourselves. Finding boundaries that may be ‘natural’ boundaries or they may be self-protective boundaries resulting from wounding, but being gentle and tender with ourselves throughout, not pushing, not letting the view of others on what is normal or right send us off kilter from our path of truth.
I have now stopped calling the spaces I facilitate ‘sex-positive’, but rather ‘person-positive’. Sex is welcome, but it’s not about sex. It’s about welcoming all of who you are – the frisky parts, but also the tender, vulnerable bits, the bits you judge, especially the bits you feel like are not allowed. There is no pressure to feel sexual. What happens in a space when we let go of what we think should happen, when there is pressure to have a certain outcome, and we just dive into the rabbit hole of truth in each moment, with ourselves and each other? I am coming to a place of peace within myself, the more I give myself permission to just be me, regardless of the expectations of others.
Totally. Fucking. Uninspired.
I am in the midst of total lack of inspiration at the moment.
There is nothing that is exciting me and I have no creative urge, no ambition.
I used to be an inspiration junky! in the past I would be going through an existential crisis right about now. Especially as I make a living from being inspired.
But everything is cyclical and just as there are seasons on the planet, the creative process is cyclical too… there must be a winter, a period of non-doing, of resting, exhaling, listening, waiting. This is where good ideas come from! Bad ideas and bad business decisions often come from an addiction and fixation on constant creation. And the world is pretty much addicted to constant doing and accomplishing.
There is such a beauty in winter. In coming back to the self, in simplicity and the essential, the resting in non-doing. At first it requires such trust, that the outward and creative phases of Spring and Summer will reappear, but when the awareness of the cyclical nature of life becomes embodied, the trust is just there and we can really enjoy this phase.
As a female bodied person, I feel very blessed that I also have this wisdom stored in my womb. My body knows these cycles. It knows that there are times for coming out into the world (hello ovulation!) and a time for bringing attention inwards and stillness (menstruation). (I recommend reading Lisa Lister‘s book ‘Code Red’ if you are a female-bodied person or know one :))
What would planet earth be like if we all listened to the wisdom of the cyclical nature of life, and allowed our lives to be guided by it?
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I’d never have anal sex with a man who hasn’t been penetrated himself… I’m not really one for principles… and besides, who hasn’t done slightly questionable things in the name of being turned on? ;)
But I find it so amazing how obvious the difference is between men who have been penetrated themselves and men who haven’t.
There is something about a man who has embodied the surrendering and opening and trust that’s required in anal penetration, who has been able to discern conditioning from truth around being a ‘real’ man and is so comfortable in his skin, and in his manhood that he is able to go deeply into this way of engaging.
It goes way beyond sex and asses…. it requires a profound and far-reaching rebellion against our conditioning around gender, and the ripples of this are huge….
And the effects are so beautiful… I find men who have gone there have much less tension in their bodies, feel much less ‘rigid’, are better lovers as they have more empathy and are just more ‘well-rounded’ overall as they are not polarized on one side of the spectrum.
Living in a culture that values the head over everything else, as I enter events and rituals that are heart-spaces, I always meet a wave of sadness in me as I acknowledge what a process it is, to transition… to move from a cerebral gadget-riddled ADD culture of disembodiment and disengagement, of spreading oneself thinly, to the spaciousness and presence required to journey layer by layer into the depth of the heart.
How sorely we need these communal heart spaces…whether rituals, plant ceremonies, sweat lodges, prayer circles, or heart-themed workshops and events… so that our little hearts can become big again and we can practise what it is to pray… to thaw into feeling once again, to deep connection, to listening within us so that those messages of what is truly burning at the core of our being can be expressed…whispered and bellowed into the belly of the great mystery. Humbly and shamelessly.
Prayer has no rules. Prayer is not always polite or proper. Let it be awkward and tentative, as we fumble through our words, but when we get through those layers and meet that surge of what’s really burning – not what we think we should prayer about – there is such power in that pureness. In a world obsessed with superficiality and appearance, in containing, sterilising and manicuring, let our prayer not be polished, let it be messy and wild. Let it be audacious. Let it wake us up out of our slumbering and numbness so we can remember what is truly important in life ♥
On feeling helpless in a world that seems to be crumbling before our eyes…
Each moment brings possibilities for creative activism.
In a world that teaches you to be an obedient and numbed little consumer, to listen to authority rather than yourself and to abandon oneself, the practise of self-care and self-love is a crucial act of political rebellion. Maybe it feels small, but don’t under estimate it.
Today I woke up and chose to be quiet and listen to myself and give myself space to ask myself what I need. “I need time and space to feel!” my little heart said. And so I waited until it started to crack and the tears came and I cried a bit for myself and my pain, and then cried a bit for all the pain I’ve suppressed over the years through distracting myself and being afraid to feel deeply, and then cried a bit more for all the unshed tears in the world. Allowing our hearts to crack and those layers of pain and deep longings and desires to be met…the waves of self-kindness that follow, ebbing and flowing, is perhaps the greatest form of prayer and the greatest catalyst for truth-inspired action that can then follow.
Creating time and space to feel deeply is such an integral part of self-love. To hold oneself in one’s deepest pain, like a mother loves her child. In a world where everything needs to look polished, contained and in control, to embrace the confusion and messiness and vulnerability of simply being a human, navigating our paths through this crazy thing called life, lies a power greater than we realise.
A curious thing it is, that the default world feels ok with the yin qualities of the vagina – their capacity to receive a penis – and rather less ok with their yang qualities, like their capacity to ejaculate, menstruate and give birth.. Except of course when they lubricate – that’s ok because it’s interpreted as a sign of validation .
The world seems to be a bit fascinated by these ‘yang’ qualities but obviously also threatened (remember it was only last year that the British government banned female ejaculation in porn).
Someone used the word ‘vagina dentata’ in association with me a couple of weeks ago and I burst into tears. I did not realise how much charge this image carries for me. It’s not exclusively fear and threat that’s inspired this concept (sure, it can also be interpreted as empowering to women), but a good portion of it has very ugly, patriarchal roots.
The ‘vagina dentata’ originates from folk tales in many different cultures from all over the world. Some researches have posited that it expresses the threat sexual intercourse poses for men who, although ‘entering triumphantly, always leave diminished’.
What do you think?
I know that sexual shaming is rampant universally, but through my work I often come into contact with how women – feeling threatened by male desire – so often shame men, sometimes overtly, but often unconsciously.
I know many of us have been victims to men’s desire when it has been transgressive and felt disrespectful or abusive, but when we chronically and toxically shame something, it ultimately perpetuates it. There is a time and a place for naming and shaming, but also just as importantly, a need to look at our self-responsibility.
What if as women, when we experience a man’s desire for us, even if it’s a ‘sleazy’ catcall on the street, we remember just for one instant, that underneath, the sacred force of eros: the cosmic connecting and creative force of life, is at play?
What if we recognized the same force in ourself, that may also been suppressed and shamed?
What if we recognised that the more we surpress something in ourselves, the more it will trigger us when expressed in others – and that the more ease we have with our own desire, the less threatened we feel when we experience desire towards us by another.
So much drive, so many quests for being happy, for getting on with life, putting on a brave face, sugar-coating, trying to be be perfect, hiding our perceived weaknesses.
Is being happy and functional in a world with this much imbalance and suffering even sane?
Today I am comforted by the words of Krishnamurti: “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
My heart beats for all the humans who know their privilege yet struggle with mere existence. For the misfits and edge dwellers, the artists and who turn their pain into their creations, the sensitive ones who dance the edge of curse and blessing in their capacity to feel, the lost ones who cannot find their place, those of us who struggle with addiction, psycho-somatic health issues, and the daily heartache of acknowledging dysfunctional habits.
You are not alone.
The European fairytale hag, Medusa from ancient Greece, Hel, the Germanic Goddess, the snapping vagina in Navajo culture, Ereshkigal of the Summerian Inanna myth, Kali, Lillith…
Throughout our human history, we have collected myths and tales of the Dark Feminine. We see her from afar – exotic, somehow in her distance and in her darkness, and powerful although how and why, we cannot quite comprehend. We are too busy pointing fingers, bemoaning the catastrophes of Patriarchy to pay her much attention.
But she is there within all of us, ever present, cackling away, and the less attention we pay her, the louder the cackling becomes.
How do you experience her?
For me, she represents the dark side of desire. The part of me that wishes to smother, to devour, to control.The side that is unable to let go, that will manipulate in order to get what I want. The part of me that wishes to consume another’s innocence and youth.
We can jump up and down about patriarchal paradigms all we want. We can talk about men dominating and conquering all we want. But if we don’t own those parts of us that are contributing to the system we long to transcend, we are lost.
“All of the fluids in our body become moist when we are moved – we cry, we lubricate, we bleed, all of the numinous experiences of our bodies have to do with moisture. And it’s moisture that brings life to this planet.”- Jean Shinoda Bolen
Recently hundreds of thousands of people gathered all over the world to pray in gratitude and reverence for WATER, the blood of our planet.
I only found out about it afterwards, but hey, every day, every sip, drip and splash is a good time to connect to the preciousness of water <3
What a simple action, yet we seem to have forgotten it: the art of listening.
Through listening, our senses can start to open to all the subtle yet powerful guidance that our earth – and what is wild – offers. We can begin to see the simple abundance that is offered, the layers of nourishment for body and spirit, and the state of gratitude that naturally follows.
The more we listen and receive, the more we become aware of the ways in which we are aligned and in balance with life and its flow through us, and the ways in which we resist, reject or suppress.
What is wild knows how to thrive.
It understands that our awakening into thriving is our deepest nature and calling.
We just need to listen.
I only had sex for money once.
It had been a fantasy for a long time and although I skirted around the edge of the sex industry for years and have also been an outspoken advocate for sex worker rights, it only happened once.
I was so curious. Would it be pleasurable? Would I feel ashamed? Empowered or powerless? And so I allowed my curiosity and desire for truth to guide me and arranged a meeting in a hotel with some one – a government official I believe.
45 minutes later, I was standing by the door about to leave, 500 euros clutched in my hand.
He looked at my sheepishly, muttering the words “Next time it will be better”.
The moment that followed only lasted a matter of seconds, yet in that moment profound insight came tumbling through.
The vulnerability in being a man.
The power in being a woman, who owns her allure.
As women – of course as humans, beyond gender as well – we don’t realise how powerful we are: as mothers and bringers of life, as guardians of our earth, as mystical, beguiling and sensual beings who are longed for and desired. Lets rise up in that power, not use to manipulate or make men feel small, but use it to speak our truth, show the fierce and tender love towards our planet how and see just how much beauty we can create.