Has the Cinderella of the wonderful female power adventure escaped the ugly step-sisters of intimidation and exclusion, only to wander into a pit of vipers? Has Cinderella escaped the ugly sisters at all?
T he idea that we live in a cosmos that is one giant vagina has certain limitations.
It’s sister idea, right now, is that our own vaginas are tiny little doorways to the cosmos, and, in fact, not only the real Holy Grail, but the Rabbit Hole, the Holy Road, the Face of the Goddess and the magical cauldron of the lost sex magic of Mary Magdeline, Jesus and possibly Smurfette as well.
Which idea also has certain eye-brow tilting qualities.
Are these the Great and Transformational secrets the Wisdom Traditions have been keeping? Is this what Jesus really died for? Is this what women have been killed for over history? Is this the shattering, wonderful truth we have all been yearning for? Is the legendary jewel in the lotus just an over-written version of Victoria’s Secret? Or are we falling under the Spell of some naughty and even silly ideas?
There are certainly some problems with the whole new mythology that is underwriting the present fusion of erotic sex, gynaecology and power and spirituality.
It’s highly anthropomorphic, for one thing. And it’s among the war-cries being used at the extreme edge of a Feminist Empowerment frenzy that may well be over-stepping its agenda.
Why? Because all is not well in the story of Female Empowerment. All is not very well at all.
This week, when I wanted to explore the imagery used to role model and market workshops and merchandise for empowering women here in Ubud, Bali, I was called a bully, a violent abuser, a betrayer of women, a crusher of other women’s freedom to self-express, a bigot, a prude, a thief, liar, and traitor to the cause of easing human suffering on Earth.
That sort of thing.
I was told by many, many women that I would be stuffed down into the basement and made to feel very bad and sad and lonely and even scared indeed if I continued even daring to ask the question about what is female empowerment? and what do those who sell it really mean, and really stand for?
I was told by one woman to my face, and quite a very large number of others behind my back, that the Ubud femme power tribe were hissing and fizzling and scheming and plotting to have me thrown out of the country, and punished with ostracism, ridicule. And maybe voodoo dolls were made as well.
The ones who want to command the stage on this issue did worse things: they remained silent.
Oooo – that’s the sort of silence that has a shark fin in it.
A meeting with the Ugly Step-Sisters.
Who, if you understand the story well, were always contending to be the prettiest at the ball, but hid the secrets of their bullying, intimidation, cruelty and greed for men and money under their well-groomed theatre of charm and seduction.
Oh very dear.
And so, even though I was invited to one of their parties tonight, to celebrate a birthday, I guess I wont need to be polishing up my dirty little moccasins just yet. Because I am in the very big trouble with all the empowered women, and they do tend to be running this town, as you would expect, from those who value power.
And oh, and bother, and huff and sigh…. but anyway, this is how it really is – and it is very normal, and to be expected in the strange and difficult madness of everybody, together, learning, contending, and being scared and being greedy, and sometime accidentally – and sometimes deliberately – dangerous.
Being banished and pitched into the creative fire is where we find our true selves, and our courage, and maybe even help, from the magical forces of those who also want to learn in open exchange, and in a power beyond the status quo … so, oh well then…. here we go. .. again.
I am willing to take the initial shock of punishment and backlash, and expected it.
I am willing because I want to open the way into this conversation, and because I want to role model to those afraid to speak and be different to the status quo… that yes, it is all very tumultuous out here… but look!
Stand fast, and tremble – because magical things are possible – and it takes courage and daring to stand in the storm of new ideas and diversity – and there is an intelligence that sometimes needs all of us to face risk and fear, so we can metabolise all that, and be part of something new and good – together. for the benefit of all.
Women who dare to portray themselves as leaders and teachers in their underwear, and nude, are supposed to be commended as brave.
And women who ask whether it’s a good idea, and if we need this as role models of power and influence must also be commended as brave – or we are running a very lop-sided show here indeed.
Anyway. Yes, it is not very nice when the powerful keepers of the femme status quo drop their pretty I’m just a lovely, fairy goddess mask, and reveal that they, like all of us, have teeth, and can be irritated, nasty and even violent.
I spent six hours at a cafe in town with three other women who were in pain, and angry, or confused and distressed about the furball that vomited up yesterday – we all agreed that being sexy and dressing up in gowns and tiaras does not make you beautiful in any humanitarian way. And that calling yourself a priestess, shaman, healer, empowerment teacher, yoni whisperer or goddess – is probably just silly.
But we weren’t sure. We wanted to talk about it. We did that for six hours.
Some of us did it for a lot more than that yesterday after my post, and some have been very badly punished for doing it, or wanting to do it, all their lives.
But that’s certainly not going to stop me having my own thoughts about this. Or sharing them.
The problem with trying to shock, shame or overwhelm your contenders, or those who question you, is that it’s never a victory; they always come back at you in the end.
And if there is a writer in the room, who happens to believe that upset and trauma and pain and stuff is really the wonderful genius of the soul, trying to get expressed – well, then – there’s somebody willing to lead the way – whatever Alsatians, dread guardians, demons or nervous wrecks and frightened ones may be in our party.
What I know, and so do others, is that there is a savage, wonderful feeling of victory when you slam dunk, behead or crush your opponent. But we mostly firmly attribute this and its horrors to men. Women usually deny they ever have this sort of impulse.
If they lash out, they usually say it is a Mumma Bear instinct, so they can quickly maintain their pretty goddess social mask. Or they say it is because they were being used by ‘the universe’ to express itself. Or maybe they were raging against an enemy, like men, or the government, or racists, or just about anything other than what we must all own – which is own our whole expression – our gentleness and our ferocity – if we want to be sane and wise.
Women in the Empowerment industry have a special problem. They need something to point toward to prove their disempowerment.
Otherwise, there’s a big problem with their ideas, and their business models too.
But as I look around at the veiled or bikini-clad women here in Ubud. At the amazing caravan of every shape, colour and creed in town. At the overwhelming leadership of women in everything from traditional dance, dj.ing, teaching, speaking, business ownership, creative experiments and belonging to the codes and taboos of a kaleidoscope of cultures…. At the abundance of pleasures and causes easily available for those who most speak of empowerment, I wonder what monster or barrier now, in 2018, in Ubud, the female empowerment movement is slaying?
I am wondering if ‘becoming orgasmic’ as an empowerment mission is just the new ‘becoming organic’?
Is it all just a giant typo? A typo that has a MASSIVE market driving it, and is worth a cool fortune!
Or are women and maybe men really so damaged sexually as a social reality, that we can get to the moon (allegedly) but we cant get off in our own beds! What the… maybe this is true??!!
This will set off a wild cry of angry voices, probably. As women scream about the things they say they are fighting against. But what I want to know is:
what are women fighting FOR? And who? And why?
I want to know this, because I think it is wonderful and exciting, and brilliant and necessary for us all to join in on the adventure of becoming wonderful people in a safe and wonderful world.
I’m all for it. So please.. let’s check in together on what female power is, what forces are really, truly against it.. where to find it, and what we are using it for, whether it is the right adventure for us? how those who want this power affect the others – and who or what it serves – because I do think that is a safe and fair and appropriate and wise thing to do.
To get around this, feminists and female empowerers usually say this is a stupid request though.
They get a bit miffed. And their eyes sometimes get flashy. Then they usually say, as if it is the most obvious thing in the world, that we are victims of a Patriarchy that has traumatised and disempowered them and their ancestors for ages. And that’s why we need empowerment in the first place. And that’s why it a bit of a war.
There is no end to this, apparently, until men have been punished, the evil rulers of society overthrown, and we are ruled in a Matriarchy.
Until women have the power they seem to think men have had – and until we taste the same costs and realities of that, which you only really have to ask men about – because most of them are not, and have not been feeling very safe or happy or powerful for ages. as well.
But the Feminists dont usually want men at the party. Though they dont seem to mind them in the bed. Sometimes. Or maybe quite a lot? Since sexuality is now apparently their domain of power.. or one of them… how does this all work? what’s next? hello….?
Feminists will often call men unsafe and violent, with tendencies to abuse of power, to bully and abuse, and point to this as the cause of all their victimhood and trauma anyway.
Accidentally, and because women do tend to deny their own will to power, and will to violence, and tendencies to be not very nice, this force – the vengeful, the wicked, the angry woman, explodes out of the dungeon and causes all sorts of wild, creative mayhem as it screams across the kingdom…
DON’T YOU DARE TO QUESTION ME!
But the fact is that it is much better, and more useful and creative to embrace the questions.
Questions are beautiful and helpful. They help us have the difficult conversations, explore with courage, and kindle our willingness to learn, to shift, to face the wonderful possibility that there is a benefit in engaging in the magnificent play of a variety of ideas.
This is the empowerment which I and many other thinkers and feelers want to see and create here. That’s why we are worried about a Yoni-verse, because the etymology of yoni is ‘one’ and ‘mine’ and female, while the etymology of uni-verse, is all and ours and trans-gender, trans-species and even transcendental.
Using the female sex and sex organs in marketing and in an idea is extremely delicious and powerful in attracting attention, and in titillating audiences.
But is it fair? And is it wise?
And isnt that why the oldest societies and wisdom schools on the planet encourage sexual etiquette, modesty, refinement of the base impulses, and overcoming of temptation?
Is this the swing-back from there?
Or is it just the same old same old same.
The problem, I think, boils down to using erotica and seduction to sell. Because it works on everybody: not just men.
And because it is manipulative. This is a sophisticated science we know a lot about – and it is being widely exploited every day.
Women using their own and other’s bodies to sell, say they are taking back their own property. But how, as one woman asked yesterday, does exploiting our own sexuality and commodifying our own bodies improve anything?
Or is this actually what is required?
How do we solve the problem of exploiting the sacred human tender theatre of sex and bodies for selling beer, burgers, lawn mowers and health?.. as well as for educating and remedying the social issues of lust, betrayal, temptation, seduction, addiction and personal freedom and sovereignty?
And if we are struggling to come to terms with the idea of the sacred and the soul, then how does using the body as a marketing tool respect the soul? Or maybe is does just that?
These are great questions – why cant we explore them?
A great question is also this: at a time when we have the climate in catastrophe, violence in the hearts and streets, ancient forests being devoured, ice caps melting, pollution vomiting out of the river and seas, the biosphere collapsing before our eyes ~ and access to the greatest technology maybe ever seen on this planet – are we going to dedicate our education, wealth and time to the freedom of the fanny?
The notion that the cosmos is female, and is symbolised and embodied in the vagina is among the cherished ideas of a very loud and dominant voice among the female leadership, spiritual healer, social progress movement of our post-modern, spirituality-seeking, trauma-afflicted world.
It is a delicious, fermented fruit for women, (and for some men) and for entrepreneurs, because it is an intoxicating idea, because it hits on most human beings’ fascination for power, sexual attention, erotica, self-gratification and a sense of belonging to something greater than what science and reason has offered.
Because it attempts to address a feeling of deep grief, suffering and frustration that is at large everywhere – and it promises that solving this profound personal and social wound in our psyche can be done by all of us, at home, by the careful and ritualised self-fondling, or paid-for expert fondling, and meditation on our genitals.
Hmmm… I have explored this too, as a time when we might actually, because of pain and suffering, earn our humanity rather than scratch our itch for orgasm and power here.
There are some fascinating ideas in this, and some fascinating conversations that could be had.
But the problem is – and this is a very real and should be a terrifying issue to those who want to shop and study with these people – is that they do not tolerate questions, and they do not want the inconvenience and effort of debating and testing and sharing their ideas in the open light.
They seem to say; our business is all about empowerment, so those who want to talk more, or question, must be about disempowerment – and this is very, very, VERY wrong and dangerous.
As one woman in Ubud wrote about it last night: “You can’t be empowered if you get power from disempowering others.”
I dont agree. I think you can very much get power by disempowering others. We have a modern history that reeks of it. Those who take power by conquering, violating, shaming and silencing others.
But is this the power we want? And is the power the Female Empowerment leaders are dancing with?
Theirs is an idea that needs to be questioned. Not killed off. Crushed. Insulted or marginalised. Not necessarily. But maybe.
Because if Female Empowerment is at the cost of the freedom and dignity of other women, or of anybody really – or if it comes in a stiletto, with a foot on the throat of its critics or those who ask questions… then it is not the sort of power that I and many others want to see more of in our society, or anywhere in the vagina-verse, or scrota-verse, or the cock-mos… whatever.
The fact is, without a regular process of mixing, shedding and then emptying itself of its own potency, an idea, just like a vagina, gets very sick indeed.
And a sick vagina is no fun at all.
So, let’s all admit that things are smelling a bit fishy around the women’s power movement, and take a little peek inside, to see what might be the matter.
Here in Ubud, and all over the place, sprouting up like little kooky, fertile, fungal outcrops, are not actually speakers or philosophers, but business entrepreneurs who want to explore and trade in the idea that it is helpful, true and good to dip our fingers deeply into the honey pot of erotica, self-pleasure, intimacy and sexual therapies and adventures in order to know our true power.
I think that’s a fair way to summarise it.
They teach, and market themselves as the figure heads of their work, using their own images, usually, but if I use these in this post, even though they are Marketing Material, and already in the public domain, they will lose their shit, and I will get in big trouble, and the conversation with go to the dogs. Go figure.
Anyway. They tend to look something like this…
They say that there are pains, traumas, hidden possibilities and necessary freedoms tucked inside the pussy, and that tearing off the panty-trap, as well as other veils and taboos is where it’s at.
They want to explore what they suggest is the locked archive of our physical, social and cosmological store of wisdom and truth in intimacy, sex and gynaecology. (those are my words, I wouldn’t’ DARE use theirs, even though they are published online – because if I put one foot wrong, even if I have a right to, they will attack me and destroy the dialogue… it’s all very very carefully treading around here.. shhh… we dont want to wake the she-demons….)
Anyway, they seem to want to teach that we can do that by re-writing our social rules and etiquette on erotica, and relating to the real physical bits and pieces of our labia, vaginas, wombs and that sort of thing.
I think that’s the adventure they are called to take, or at least, called to sell to others.
Now, this all borrows from the mighty, utterly revolutionary and dangerously murderous efforts of those working to show that we are part of a conscious, living universe, not a meaningless, mechanical one.
People who want to say that the world is actually alive, and has a soul, and could be killed or turn against us if we rampage or harm it are being, and have been massacred, shamed, murdered and imprisoned for daring to speak about it.
They are being killed and shamed and imprisoned for that today. As environmental activists, writers, scientists and radicals around the world. Right now. It’s no joke.
The Female Empowerment conversation is hooked into the wild revolution of discovering that the world is alive… but does it honour that idea properly? Or does it exploit it?
Does what they offer do the best we can do with the ground others have fought and died over?
Or does is fettishize the cunt? Is it self-serving? Is it a terrible misadventure in taking a wonderful idea and stuffing it up an orifice for nothing much more than self pleasure and aggrandisement?
Or are there real and dignified benefits? Are there benefits for beings other than themselves and their tribe?
I want to know. But they dont seem to want to talk about it.
Secondly, the sexual empowerment adventure also borrows from the vast and war-shocked human cultural heritage that sees the sacred as a feminine idea, rather than a masculine one.
Their philosophy is not new. God was a woman on this planet for a very long time, and all things are still and obviously sacred to many cultures still alive and thriving on this planet, despite the bulldozers, tourists, pollution and technology that undermines and devours them.
Thirdly, and this is very important – their ideas are usually heavily based on the argument that the big battle on Earth is to be pitched against a Patriarchy.
Patriarchy is the problem. And it must be over-thrown.
But what is Patriarchy?
Patriarchy, they will usually say, is a system of suppression, cunning enslavement of the world, and especially women by forces of self-aggrandising, non-contestable male power.
But that is not true.
Patriarchy, as a word, is not a ‘thing’, or a system – it’s a concept.
To bite into the poisoned apple that men are the problem, or patriarchy is a reality and a problem is to get very sick indeed.
This is described in virtually every myth we have as a way to collapse into the unconscious and require direct intervention by a handsome prince, or a fairy godmother, a toad, or a catastrophe.
The handsome prince can save you, because he reminds you that there are good men. Men of virtue and honour, and compassion and courage. And that your own best masculine qualities of leadership, clarity, courage, action, play, boundaries and reason are critical to your life and wellbeing.
The fairy godmother can save you, because she puts you in touch with a magic and a meaning that is greater than duality, that transcends any polarity.
Toads can help you because they provoke you to wake up! and be careful of your promises and who you seduce, for what reason.
And catastrophe helps, because it too is a massive creative turning point – if you take the adventure, instead of, for example, staying at home to masturbate.
The problem is not a Patriarchy – you can see that argued also beautifully here. The problem is oppressive, mean, mind-warping, tribe-oriented power structures of any sort. And these are created by men, women and those in between.
Still with me?
So the latest thing in the long and complex whirlwind that has been called the feminist revolution, it’s the odd new, labial fruit of a very big and very important adventure in modern, materialist thinking.
It’s the strange new fruit of what really has been a war move against the ideas and hierarchies which have ruled the Western, materialist, industrial world for several thousand years, and shows up in these key rules that are at the background of our society.
That nothing means anything, unless reason makes it so.
That nothing means anything, unless the gate keepers of science and cartesian philosophy make it so.
That the world and everything in it is part of an unconscious cause and effect machinery of bits and pieces.
That the world is manifest to be exploited by humankind in pursuit of its needs and desires.
That there are no natural moral limits.
That God is a man.
and that God is dead.
And that is a very good thing.
This has all earned us spectacular access to knowledge, resources, technology and what we call power. But it has also brought us, we fear, to the brink of environmental catastrophe, and to a social norm that is in agony of depression, anxiety, violence, narcism, rage and a full-scale war between its parts.
We are, or should be – terrified of what we are becoming.
And of the cost of that to the world.
But the only way to absorb and handle the current immense adventure, is to admit that we have a soul – because it’s that which is hurting – and to admit that the world is alive – because it is obviously dying.
The creative adventure to go beyond this idea has driven much of Western thinking over the last 50 years. But it’s nothing new. The creative, philosophical, scientific, social and personal adventure to re-think the way we imagine the world has been driven by the rising awareness that the existing normal is driving us to catastrophe.
But is has been dangerous. It is dangerous because those who believe the universe has no consciousness, and no soul can be extremely cruel, oppressive and violent in defending their belief.
Those who question the implied rules behind our post-modern progress-oriented free-market world risk being accused and punished for Madness, for Hysteria, for Weakness, or for Terrorism.
They risk being punished by ostracism, exile, poverty, abuse, shaming, gossip or attack – and that’s even before the authorities get involved! Because the punishments are delivered always at the community level – as well as the level of state or religious control – and we need to admit and deal with that NOW!
It has been dangerous to get too intimate with the sacred cows of Western thought. And it is dangerous to get too intimate with the men and women in the Female Empowerment movement too.
Many of those who believe the universe is personal, and a woman, or feminine in nature and manifest in their own bodies are being extremely cruel, oppressive and violent in pushing what they say are their rights in pursuit of profit from and embodiment of their belief.
In the middle of this mess are ordinary men and women, and their bewildered cats and dogs – who wonder, hmmm… haven’t things gone sort of sideways?
As Female Empowerment and its litter of related ideas and business ventures, including Embodied Intimacy, Authentic Relating, Yoni Massage, Yoni Mapping, Conscious Orgy, Erotic Therapy and the pursuit of sensuality and self-development through, basically, fishing about in our genitals, moves from the shadows into the light of the open market, there are those with real concerns about the ethics and validity of this.
And there are those whose severed heads, sacrificial corpses and shamed identities adorn the window displays of those who sell and celebrate this work.
That is not a secret.
The code of conduct for too many of those who have bitten into this idea and commodified it for sale in workshops, therapy sessions, books, articles and a plethora of merchandise including Jade eggs, anal massage widgets, special charts, and the inevitable theatrical props of gowns, capes, feathers, tattoos and an assortment of things from the sacred fancy dress box … are, sadly and dangerously, too often as follows:
Questions will be met with icy silence, ostracism or punishment.
Those who question are sick, or distorted or unevolved.
The path to female empowerment is inviolable, incontestable and extremely hostile to either debate or transparency.
Those who question are our enemies.
They’e probably only jealous.
We are willing to allow our supporters to fend them off with attack-dog tactics.
But as leaders of this movement, and with most to gain by way of money and influence, we will take the Fifth; we will indulge in the privilege of saying nothing, so we can appear transcendent of the horrible, inelegant mess of public conversation.
Now, this does not mean that those, men and women, who are exploring this edge – almost always with a profit in mind – are necessarily not good or safe folk to lead the conversation. But it might.
Because leadership that refuses conversation, that destroys debate and intimidates or exiles and wounds its critics, or its bewildered onlookers, is what is known as fascist.
Now. That’s a very big word. Which is highly loaded and triggering. But why?
Fascism (/ˈfæʃɪzəm/) is a form of radical authoritarian ultranationalism, characterised by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society and of the economy, which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe.
When a person becomes fascismo, there are certain hallmarks:
They feel superior to others.
They suppress diversity of expression.
They cultivate aggressive defenders and body guards who serve their agendas by doing the work of suppressing their critics, or just rampaging about, in general.
They become extremist in pursuit and preservation of power.
They suppress the conversation.
They pursue ideals of perfection.
They use exile, intimidation and eventually a horror show of aggressive and violent force to maintain the ideas and agreements that, obviously, keep them at the top of the social order, and entitled to the privileges and freedoms of that.
All not so very nice, as we have seen in history.
Fascism, and its cousin, Communism, have the death of hundreds, even thousands of million people – not to mention plants and animals, at their ceremonial slab; the Earth herself.
And Capitalism, as an idea that will also kill for its right to expand around the planet and profit from the spoils of dominance, has a terrifying death and intimidation count as well.
So those who have actually commodified the idea of Empowerment, and turned it into a marketplace in which they not only lead, but teach and profit from their own ideas – ideas that they will not openly share, tested and complexify – is, basically, a recipe for disaster.
Why? Because of basic, simple things – like lack of accountability.
Like lack of proper, thoughtful rigour. Things like the tendency to use marketing material to seduce and influence customers, at the same time as wanting to be seen as a wise and sovereign thought-leader.
Like running the risk of using the old, but very powerful weapons of mass-seduction to empower your business, instead of your humanity – or that of others.
This is a horrible, unfortunate cocktail that ends up, always, causing harm – both to its critics, and to those who buy in – why? – because it is an affront to the feminine character of reality – that which depends and thrives on diversity, freedom of all beings and tenderness.
isms, in general, tend to get very dangerous and psychotic. Including Feminisim.
In my view, Feminism, frankly, is in great need of a nice hot bath, a home-cooked meal, a quiet rest and a long conversation in the careful, sensible hands of simple, moderate thinkers. Why?
Because we are in a very dangerous place.
We are in a place where female empowerment has hit an edge. We are in a place where female empowerment, instead of being symbolised by a burning bra or a ballot paper, is beginning to succumb to the temptation to brandish the severed heads of its unwelcome sisters among its symbols.
Where the will to power is fizzling with the massive euphoric potency of its own success so far, and risks failing to plug that incredible creative/ destructive charge into something safe and useful and wise and transformational – for all living beings – instead of just for its own tribe, its own self, or even more terrifying, mythically speaking, the urges and surges of its transcendental vagina.
The good news, now that storytime has just about fallen in a heap of exhaustion this fine Friday in Ubud, is that this is a very normal part of all the very best adventures.
All quests and journeys, as that excellent and fine great myth, Finding Nemo, shows us, veer and surf off dangerous places now and then.
The smart thing to do at the gate of the terrible den of hairy spiders, or the cliff of horrible dread, or the party of Great White Sharks, who think they can be vegans, for example, would be to either avoid their inevitable risks and perils – and never take the quest at all – which is to say no to life, and a little bit sad, really.
Or to use them as opportunities to develop skills and wisdom. And to discover, as all the mystics teach us – that the treasure you seek is in the cave you fear to enter.