Divine Feminine Fallacy Part III – THOTs on Hoes

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Learning about sex as a girl is usually a curvy path. Some are brought to the realizations by the harshness of abuse, while others are nudged into the sexual world via playground tales and awkward sex-ed classes in junior high.

A woman is taught that her sexuality does not belong to her. It is part of her value, yes, but not if she owns it. Not if she is proud of it outside of cultural allowances.

I was always the “good girl” who was close friends with the Promiscuous Girl, the School Ho throughout my young adult life. I longed for the sexual confidence of these women and I was often annoyed at the boys who would point blank ask me about the sexual lives of my friends. Usually these same boys had similar if not higher numbers of sexual partners, but the double standard played firmly in their favor:

My friends were sluts and they were just, well, boys.

It’s an old story.

But, in looking at the Divine Feminine Fallacy, there was no way I could write about unearthing my true experience as a woman without giving mention to female sexuality and sensuality.

As  much as I sprouted quite libertine airs about female sexuality, I saw that there were solid stumbling blocks to my true acceptance of sexual pleasure and sensual expression as a right.

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It is not easy to be a woman who speaks about female desire openly, but what was my own story besides the “wing-woman” of my sexually adventurous friends?

I started going to burlesque shows in about 2009 and quickly fell in love: the pageantry, the comedic antics, the body sovereignty of each woman who took the stage.

I took a couple of burlesque classes myself, started playing around this different personas and characters in my long mirror in the privacy of my home.

Around this time period, hip hop songs featuring the talents of strippers started to become more popular. Former strippers were landing reality show spots, hanging out with Drake, teaching twerking classes.

Why was I hesitant to celebrate these women and their obvious talents?

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One of my friends was a stripper throughout her twenties. She had the kind of natural charisma CEO wanna-bes pay thousands to acquire. I was always riveted by her stories, her unashamed and unadorned ambition in a world not exactly as glamorous and fun as T-Pain would have us believe.

But, in my mind, there was a bit of a difference between the world of burlesque and stripping, one that, yes, had much to do with the “male gaze” (a term I’m not always sure I really get all the time) but more so with what ideas of society I had ingested about female sexuality.

I was dipping my toes in Respectability Pond.

And this did not solely cover the Strippers vs. Burlesque camp. When I peeled back the layers, I started to see I had some other ideas about female sexuality that were hindering my life.

Because I hardly saw women who looked like me inhabiting their sensuality and sexuality being celebrated, there was part of me that wondered if it was okay to find myself sexy.

Sexiness in the public imagination was starting to look like an onslaught of half open mouths and fiercely penetrating (lol) gazes. All without a pore in sight.

Was this sexy?

What is sexy to me?
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What would feminine sensuality and sexuality look like if it wasn’t used to sell cheeseburgers? If women were taught that sex was beautiful and full of pleasure? If we were taught to see our diverse bodies with pride? If there wasn’t a rape culture and epidemic levels of childhood sexual abuse? If our mothers did not tell us, “Good girls don’t ___________.”

These are the questions I am asking myself.

I know…I ask myself lots of questions.

I seek to be fully free woman.

And part of getting free means revising and sometimes chucking out all the mess that clouds who we truly are.

I cannot leave sexuality out of this conversation for sensual peace is part of the who the divine Feminine is. Ownership and celebration of female sexuality are some of the major hallmarks of goddesses like Osun, Venus, and Freya.

Here’s to a new kind of sex-ed.

Onward,

Hannah

 

Art from top to bottom:

Mickalene Thomas, I thought you said you were leaving, 2006

MICKALENE THOMAS, Portrait of Mama Bush 1, 2010

MICKALENE THOMAS, A Little Taste Outside of Love, 2007

Mickalene Thomas, You’re Gonna Give Me the Love I Need, 2010

 

 

Divine Feminine Fallacy Part II – In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens

“In search of my mother’s garden, I found my own.”
-Alice Walker
multi-colored plastic bouquets of flowers all crammed prettily together
Just searching…

 

“Enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.”
Adyashanti

“Spiritual bypass” is a term often used in circles where people are seeking a higher truth. Be they New Age spiritualists, pagans, mystical Christians or an interesting amalgamation of all these spiritualities or none, the term describes a certain type of seeker who is utilizing spirituality to ignore the real-life issues of their existence.

We’ve all witnessed these people. They’re the chorus of “WE JUST NEED LOOOOVE!!!!” in the face of economic disparity and misogyny and Donald Trump. They are the “friend” who replies to your grief over a recent loss with pleas to “just be positive”.

meme of shaquille oneal heads illustrating chakra colors
Chakras are groovy.

Sometimes we are even “those people”, dishing out feel-good quotes and pat advice like we are human Hallmark cards.

It’s easy to see that this shit does not work in hindsight, but not always simple to catch spiritual bypass as it is occurring in real-time.

One of the stickiest places that we often wish to bypass are the stories that live inside our families of origin–the painful patterns, the hypocrisy, the let’s-just-take-the-Sears-portrait-and-ignore-our-growing-dysfunction-ness, the weirdness, and just the day-to-day realities of familial existence.

As a seeker eager to dive into all things Divine Feminine, I was all about reading about the “Great Mother” archetype and the goddess worshiping cultures of old but I was consistently passing a blind eye to what actually was occurring within my own matrilineal line.

Without even realizing it, I was jumping over my life and seeking external opinions about what the culture had taught me about being a woman.

stained glass window of multicolored egg surrounded by blue tendrils

But, where do we learn most about what it means to be woman than within the lives and stories of our mothers, aunts, sisters, and grandmothers?

It is these women who have taught me what is possible, what to believe about sex, my body, money, men, female friendships, relationships, self-care, food, parenting, femininity/masculinity, expression, success, God and all that I call Life.

They were my first teachers.

No matter what I profess to believe now, it is their opinions that are more often than not running the show. And until I sat down to examine what they taught me, no “Divine Mother” was going to redirect and “fix” my current life.

Of course, these women have taught me all kinds of life-affirming lessons, it is not just a barrage of negativity. And they teach not only with words and deep conversations–but within the tiniest details of how they live.

Lately, I have been sifting through these lessons and asking myself some deep questions:

What were the actual lessons passed down implicitly and explicitly in my mother-line?

What are the lessons I wish to live? What are the beliefs I need to let go of? And what are the beliefs I am actually living each day?

When does “living differently” from these lessons feel like I am abandoning my mother-line?

painting by fernand leger of three grey cubism style women overlapping each other
Fernand Leger, Composition with the three figures, 1932, CMOA.

The work I am completing here is constant and requires a dedication to life-long learning and shedding–these early beliefs are oftentimes not easy to discard.

They are literally in our blood.

But, I’ve started to notice something in my search.

I used to think the sifting through these stories required me to make a particular family member wrong or to assign blame.

Now I see that this search is all about integrity and awareness. It’s about truly realizing what is mine and what is not. It’s about facing reality as it is and not utilizing spirituality as yet another fogged up mirror, a clever way to obscure truth.

I continue this search, this investigation. I see the patterns–both gracious and limiting. I keep asking questions and sticking around for the answers. In doing so, my Divine Feminine life has a more grounded texture to it, for it is now weaved into my actual life.

My eyes open more and more each day.

What do you think you would find in sifting through your mother’s garden? Is it scary to think that you may just locate who you really are?

Onward,

Hannah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Divine Feminine Fallacy Part I – I Hate Successful Women

You know those memes that nimbly point fingers at some ubiquitous yet unnamed hater? Like:

Meme: haters are my motivators

And:

I'm not jealous, I just don't like that dirty whore

I am that Hater.  I don’t want to utilize this blog as a sphere of severe self-flagellation. (That’s what Facebook posts are for right?) But, as part of addressing the Divine Feminine Fallacies of my own life, I need to get real.

For many years, I thought my bouts of frequent comparison and envy were gender-less.

But, then I started to notice something when that familiar closed-chest feeling hit as I heard about someone’s creative career success or picked up a magazine with a gorgeous woman on the cover.

I was hardly ever jealous of men, no matter how many “30 Under 30” lists they appeared under.

What was it about other women that made my innards curl into coils of envy when I saw their successes?

In real life, I cheer my women friends and love seeing women leaders.  I played basketball (and loved the teamwork aspect) for over ten years.  I’ve mentored young girls and believe all those memes about helping one’s sister.

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Sadly, my unconscious was like, nah bitch…You Are Indeed a HATER.

It was tough:  I felt (and still often feel) incredible shame about these feelings. I want to be a “good feminist”. I am inspired by so many women. I love all things women’s empowerment.

The thing about self-love and acceptance is that you don’t get to live in la-la land if you’re practicing it right. You have to face some hard shit, like how you have internalized the patriarchy. You have to face the not-so-pretty aspects of who you are, the ones that don’t line up with what we profess on the outside.

After lots of meditation, serial-killer like scrawling in numerous journals, and a general openness to what my body has been trying to communicate to me for years, I discovered that I am a Hater of epic proportions.

So appropriate for moi
So appropriate for moi

I could have stopped there, decided I was a terrible person and a farce of a feminist, but I pressed deeper until I saw the story-lines and beliefs that were driving the feelings and thoughts.

I learned that believed in Scarcity in every definition of the word:

That there isn’t room or enough for me “out there”. That I don’t I have what it takes to be successful (not disciplined enough, not photogenic enough, not good enough mixture of witty-intelligent, that I didn’t grow up in the “correct place”...)

I believed that women are my competitors and that I needed to outshine them at all times.

THIS is what I believe in that deep, deep murky grey level of unconscious thought. This is what drives me to Instagram comparison and stalling in certain areas of my life when it comes to building my dreams.

Thankfully, jealousy is also a clue.

A couple months ago, I decided I was going to stop running from this feeling and letting it define who I am. As soon as I decided to do this, all kinds of synchronous happenings entered my life on the nature of female comparison/envy and how jealousy is not the end.

Competition and a belief in lack are some of the greatest bargaining chips the patriarchy has.

I remember hearing from the age of about ten onward that women are just naturally jealous. I heard my own teammates bemoan how women were just catty and that they “wished they could play basketball with the dudes, ‘cuz there was never any drama.” (LOLZ to those of us who remember the Kobe-Shaq Lakers days…)

The values of the patriarchy which so often blend into the tenets that uphold Western civilization espouse constant competition and the Marlboro Man mentality–the lone hero divorced from community and better for it.

Our media never ceases to tell women they are not enough in beauty, brains, or talent. That there are the “stars” and then there are the rest of us: ugly in our ordinariness and imperfections. Our society tell women that there is only so many accolades to go around.

And as much as feminism and my own critical thinking skills helped me resist these ideas to some degree, I had to admit to myself just how much I had internalized them.

Self-love means accepting that I am not the only person with this issue, especially in such a social media saturated world. Hopefully by shining a light on my own struggles, I can more honestly assist other people who feel this same type of cognitive dissonance.

When I feel the anxious stirring of jealousy or comparison today, I don’t wish or will it away.

Here is what I do instead:

  1. Admit When I Am Being a Hater:

I pause. I put my phone down or close out of the article. I listen to my body, the tightness of my chest or upper shoulders. I breathe into it this feeling and allow it to be as big as it wants to.

2. Dig Deep as to Why I Am Hating:

I ask myself some questions. What exactly am I jealous of? What is the Story I am creating? (i.e. I never earned an MBA, therefore I can’t start my own business, Good writers are recognized by age 30, etc.) Why do I think possessing said trait or thing will make me happy? Why don’t I think I can?

As I said before, Jealousy is a HUGE clue for what we actually want. It’s honestly nothing to be ashamed of, no matter how trivial the desire may seem. Perhaps we want to write more or travel to tropical islands or speak our political views without caring what our friends think. By engaging and being honest about where and who we are jealous of, we can start to build the life we want for ourselves. Usually, it is not that we want to be another person, we just want to feel such good things are possible for us too.

3.Tell the person!

Yikers. This one takes ovaries but once you do it, it bizarrely feels good. Sometimes, if the person is someone I know, I just admit it to them. I don’t blame them and I am not expecting or needing them to babysit my emotions. Being vocally honest allows my hater-ade to dissipate. I am able to feel more and move beyond the super grips of envy. Plus, the other person gets to see just how awesome they are.

You don’t need to drag it on forever and turn it into a self-pity session. (Please don’t do that.) Just a simple, “I’m mad jealous you got to meet President Obama,” will do. Many times, you may even find out they are jealous of you for some reason!

We humans are very funny.

4. Remember the Patriarchy Sucks:

It exists to divide and to stifle. It sells a story of Not-Enough and perpetuates a deep feeling of lack. It divorces us from people who can help us. Jealousy is almost always about feeling we are not enough on some level.

There was no way I was going to be able to fully embrace divine feminine principles without examining and discarding these vestiges of the patriarchy. I wanted a deeper integration of feminist values in my life and desired to support women in all their ways of being—not just when it was convenient for my ego.

Addressing my jealousy is steadily helping me to be a whole-hearted person, integrated and truly alive.

5. Take the simplest action:

Delete the app. Practice four square breathing. Take a walk. Actually write down the whys and who’s of your envy. Take the smallest step toward building your own version of success: look up those ticket prices, go to the Zumba class, write down 10 accomplishments you’re been proud of, dress to the nines for work the next day.

Above all else, love who you are in this moment. You are doing the best you can.

Don't know who "Jakee" is, but you are loved!
Don’t know who “Jakee” is, but you are loved!

Jealousy did and does not make me defective. It is not my whole story. I wish I knew this sooner, but I know it now!

If you struggle with jealousy or comparison, it’s not your entire story unless you want it to be.

Let’s get to that revision, shall we?

Onward,

Hannah

The Divine Feminine Fallacy – The Intro

hand drawing of black woman with blue hair surrounded by green plants, red flowers, and yellow bubbles

There are sore places, places around the chest cavity that carry wounds invisible to the human eye. They are the areas we experience what feels like a tender squeezing that never lets up, a constant dull ache.

I have many of those places and when I was first longing to be “reunited with the Divine Feminine”, these are areas I tried my best to wish away and ignore.

I love that there is so much talk these days decorated with words like goddess, sisterhood, feminist, sacred feminine, intuition, Earth…I love that yoni eggs and vaginal steaming are de rigeur experiences in the quirky woman of color experience.  There are even t-shirts. :)

It’s kinda like the 1960s but devoid of a lot of that special brand of hippy-dude sexism.

When I was first introduced to the world of the divine feminine, cutting my feminine baby-teeth on books like Dance of the Dissident Daughter, The Chalice and the Blade, and In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens, I was eager to explore this new world where the female and feminine experience was placed as paramount.

I went a little crazy.

One day it’d be learning all about moon cycles and women in leadership. The next week it would be “reclaiming the wisdom of my pussy” and reproductive rights, a month later and I’d be studying feminine Jungian archetypes with a side of feminist blogs.

I was thirsty for this knowledge (five years in military school with a majority male population has a plethora of effects) and felt like I didn’t have time enough in the day to catch up on the ways that patriarchal culture ignored the experience of women.

And the ways I was not taught this in all my years of formal education for more than a nanosecond.

hand drawing of orange and yellow flowers with blue background and brown dirt

But, alas, I wanted more. While, I am still learning and seeking and now know the names and backstories of a dozen or so demi-goddesses, I still hadn’t felt a true, soulful connection to this idea of the “divine Feminine” in my own life. Intellectually, I understood that society’s dismissal of the feminine had wide-reaching negative effects: perpetuating misogyny, reinforcing patriarchal hierarchies, fracturing our earth’s ecological balance, assigning feminine qualities under the “weak as fuck” umbrella (just to name a few…)

However, at the heart level, I wasn’t feeling a true integration of all the knowledge I was gaining. After being gracefully led to transformational coach Bethany Webster’s work, I started to ponder my own Divine Feminine stumbling blocks even more deeply. Why was I still living life in ways that were obviously at odds with this new goddess knowledge?

Hard questions sometimes beget answers we’d rather not see.

And I had to come face to face with the ways I was hurt by the Feminine in my own life, the ways in which I felt estranged and was simultaneously estranging myself from this energy.

It was much easier to read books about the Divine Feminine than to deal with the ways my life spells out a deep-seated suspicion and disavowal of the feminine.

Easier to love women in the abstract than it was to really deal with the ways I still saw women as competitors.

Simple to exalt burlesque and express libertine views than deal with how I had issues with certain expressions of female sexuality.

Easier (okay, not really easy…) to dismiss my anger than really be honest about how much “white feminism” makes my blood boil.

And SO, SO much more undemanding to write about The Goddess or The Great Mother than it was to deal with my own matrilineal line, the stories I have inherited as a daughter and a sister.

My word for 2017 is Balance, therefore, while I still consider myself a student eager to learn more about the Feminine in a multitude of ways, I also want to do the deeper work of uncovering the ways I still am estranged from the feminine in my personal life.

I know I am not alone in this. This strong want to go deeper, this need to keep asking why, and this desire to be fully integrated with feminine energies in real time.

I am not a surface person.

Of course, the work in going deeper extends beyond a blog post (or even several hundred posts), it is a constant re-working and re-integrating that I seek.

black women with violet hair emerges from pink flower, multi-colored flowers and yellow bubbles surround her

Everyone’s story around the Feminine will be the different.

I have always considered myself a feminist, even before I knew the word. But, I cannot ignore the ways in which I am hurting and hurt around the Feminine. To do so would be to pay mere lip service to a force that needs to be resurrected in a huge way and wouldn’t be in line with what I envision a true heroine’s journey to be.

Avoiding the hurt places is easy until it’s not. And I’m at the place where I no longer desire easy and where I know that integration starts wherever I am at.

Here’s to truly meeting the Goddess, messy as it may sometimes look and sound.

Here’s to uncovering and healing the divine feminine fallacies of our own lives.

Onward,

Hannah