Awakening Sexuality & Activism for Women's Rights

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OpEd: Where Is the Body-Positive Body Image for Women in Media?


20140421-090750.jpgWhile I am a sex-positive & pro-sex movement activist, I think it’s sad that the majority of the body-positive photos of women I see are in and amongst the BDSM and sexualized violence porn of Tumblr. There are many amateur sites that feature full-figured women, but the amateur photo-snaps are not of the technical quality of a professional photographer. And where are the professional photographers taking professional photos of real-sized women, using beautiful lighting and honoring the female body? The average sized woman in the United States is a 14/16. You can be a size 14 or 16 and still be healthy. Why aren’t we represented in the media and culture? Do I really need to go into a rant about matriarchal cultures of the past and the ancient preference for curvy women, immortalized in goddess images like those found at Willendorf? Seriously?

Why aren’t women allowed to be “heavy” or real-sized in magazines and on TV and film? Why aren’t stretch marks a sign of accomplishment for giving birth rather than a source of embarrassment or shame because our skin isn’t flawless anymore?

Why is a thigh-gap so sought after by teenage girls and 20-somethings? Is it because they don’t know that thigh fat makes sex feel really, really good for the guy? AND for the woman?

I’ve seen a statistic that girls see 400 ads per day telling them how they should look. Is anyone telling teens and young women they are beautiful the way they are?

One of the best things about the amateur porn on Tumblr is the real bodies. The women have real breasts — large or small. They have thigh fat and butt fat. They look healthy and natural. Usually, the men are not overly muscled; they are athletic but not steroid- addicted, bodybuilder over-muscled. For the men and the women, their bodies look normal and natural. And the best part — the orgasms are real. Real people with real bodies having real orgasms. Who knew?!

We come in all shapes and sizes, and these shapes, sizes, skin tones, hair textures, and nose and lip shapes should be reflected in the media. Diversity is a beautiful thing. Women who are naturally skinny are beautiful, and so are those of us who are not.

Be you. Be proud. Be seen.

trish

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OpEd: St. Patrick Can Kiss My Wild Irish Ass


St. Patrick - Not IrishI despise St. Patrick’s Day.  I love the connection to Irish culture, but celebrating Irish culture was NOT what “St. Patrick” was all about.  In fact, his mission was to do just the opposite.

To dispel the “St.Patrick” myth bullshit, here are some FACTS:

1) Padraic was Roman NOT Irish/Gaelic.

2) No archaeological evidence of snakes has EVER been found in Ireland because Ireland is COLD.

3) Though Rome was in decline, the church was on the rise.  Padraic was sent by the Christian church to convert the pagans/heathens/Gaelic ne’er-do-wells to the state religion of the failing Roman Empire: Christianity.  As became typical of the Christian church, their marketing campaign was “Convert to Jesus or die.”  Did the church really want to save souls?  Of course, not.  The first-century Romans actually detested the Irish and Scottish bands of Gaels, as well as the Picts (in what is now Scotland).  The Romans built Hadrian’s Wall to keep these rough barbarians from sullying their newly conquered Britannia.  Then why were the Irish and Scottish so important to the Roman church a few centuries later?  The church needed more people in its clutches to pay tithes and penances to fund its expansion and “crusades” (killing people in Jesus’ name).

Padraic used traditional Gaelic spirituality to correlate the Christian narrative of Iesus’ (Jesus) birth, life, and death, thus conning the Irish into accepting Christianity to go alongside with the indigenous Gaelic beliefs.  Thus began the systematic assimilation of a male trinity (supplanting the female trinity of the goddess culture of Ireland) as well as the now prevalent misogynistic patriarchal culture that has overtaken all matriarchal cultures in the Western world.

Remember, Jesus was killed by the Romans, and Padraic (Patrick) was a Roman infiltrator (emphasis on “traitor”) to “convert” Ireland’s pagans from their indigenous spirituality to the indoctrination and assimilation of the patriarchal imperial regime, whose intolerance, misogyny, and hypocrisy are still felt to this day via the anti-woman Catholic Church and even the rise of religious fundamentalism in America.

To learn about the indigenous spirituality of Ireland, watch the BBC program, “Sacred Wonders of Britain,” which looks at the sacred sites, the goddess culture, and the history of the native peoples of the British isles — before Christianity and the Germanic influx ruined it all.

So there you have it.  Please stop acting like “Patrick” did something good for Ireland.  He didn’t.  Patrick was a crucial part of the suppression of Ireland’s indigenous culture.  Wake up.

…. and if you’re going to shorten his name, it’s St. Paddy’s, NOT St. Patty’s.

…. and don’t get me started on use of the word “Celtic” to describe anything Irish or Scottish….

Erin (and paganism) go Bragh!
trish

NEWS: Wall Street Journal Editor Blames Intoxicated Sexual Assault Victims for Getting Raped


james-taranto-wall-street-journalToday, the endemic rape-culture of the United States is front and center again, only this time, it’s not Rush Limbaugh shaming women and victims of sexual assault or GOP gyneticians re-inventing women’s physiology — it’s an editor for the Wall Street Journal.

In today’s WSJ article, “Drunkenness and Double Standards: A balanced look at college sex offenses”, James Taranto makes a point to victim-blame women who are assaulted while under the influence of alcohol.  Just when you think the days of the Neanderthal have passed, one pokes his misogynist head up and says things like this:

“Had she awakened the next day feeling regretful and violated, she could have brought him up on charges and severely disrupted his life.”

Really?  “Disrupted his life”???  This isn’t like changing your lunch order from beef to chicken.  This is a life-changing event for the woman who is brave enough to report the assault.  Of course, it will “disrupt” the man’s life as well.

Taranto uses a drunk driving analogy:

“[W]hen two drunken college students ‘collide’, the male one is almost always presumed to be at fault. His diminished capacity owing to alcohol is not a mitigating factor, but her diminished capacity is an aggravating factor for him.”

I have recounted my own rape and my Steubenville-esque experiences, and I’ve heard from other women about their similar unintentional experiences.  So judging from his attitude, I’m sure Taranto has never been on the receiving end of an assault or rape.

Taranto goes on to say,

“What is called the problem of “sexual assault” on campus is in large part a problem of reckless alcohol consumption, by men and women alike.”

I want to point out that the men who participate in these drunken assaults caused by “reckless alcohol consumption” never seem to feel as if they have been assaulted.  The women do.  Maybe it’s because of the mechanics of “reckless sex” and how a man pounds into a woman’s vagina when he’s “reckless” — he doesn’t feel the physical or emotional effects of the “act” the way a woman does, and perhaps the woman would have said, “No,” had she not been under the influence.  Keep in mind, that everyone’s alcohol tolerance is different.

In some areas, if a person has had at least two drinks, he/she is considered unable to give informed consent due to the effect of the alcohol on the brain.  Alcohol is an entrenched part of American culture as well as college campuses.  It’s no wonder that date rape and assaults involving alcohol seem to be on the rise.

The best thing is to steer clear of alcohol if you’re at a party like that.  Keep your wits about you at all times.  But if you do drink and are assaulted, please report the assault to campus police as soon as you can so a rape kit and STD tests can be done.

trish

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REVIEW: Tantra: The Cult of Ecstasy


Tantra-Cult-of-Ecstasy-coverTantra: The Cult of Ecstasy is a large-sized paperback book originally published in Britain that covers some of the basics about Tantra, offering accurate information on this ancient, extensive, and often confusing topic.  The book features full-color photographs from the Tantra sutras, connecting the reader with Tantric history.  The author, Indra Sinha, focuses on the ancient paths of Tantra: the goddesses associated, sacred sites, mantras, and meditations, as well as explains the many misconceptions of Tantra as presented in the West.  Sinha was a Sanskrit scholar at Cambridge and also wrote one of the popular modern translations of the infamous Kama Sutra.

The reason I like Tantra: The Cult of Ecstasy is because it touches on so many important topics of Tantra but in manageable pieces, perfectly combined with the photos and visually-friendly layout. The photographs are taken from various primary sources – the Tantra sutras, and incorporate various symbolic aspects that the ancients readily understood but may seem shocking or just weird to the modern viewer. Some of the iconography includes blood-covered goddesses, wriggling serpents, and a plethora of yoni (vulvas) and linga (penises).  The book also features centuries-old Tantric drawings and paintings that depict maithuna (sexual union), so this book is “Not Safe For Work” and might be best for readers aged 21 or older.

This book touches on so many important topics in a thorough but easy-to-grasp manner that it makes a perfect beginner’s book to Tantra.  I heartily recommend Tantra: The Cult of Ecstasy as a primer for Tantra: The Cult of the Feminine by Andre Van Lysebeth, Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses by Dr. David Frawley, and Awakening Shakti: The Transformative Power of the Goddesses of Yoga by Sally Kempton.  As the umbrella over all the yogas, including hatha and kundalini, Tantra is a shamanic science present in all forms of yogic practice, but the majority of Tantric gnosticism regarding sex is rarely presented at the average yoga studio while being hypersexualized in most New Age Tantric books and workshops.

Another book with a similar cover is Tools for Tantra by North Indian musician and writer Harish Johari, an excellent introduction to the yogic mandalas, Sanskrit mantras, and visual yantras used in Tantra.  However, this book is a bit of a dryer read, and so Tantra: The Cult of Ecstasy is still a better opener to Tantra.

As one writer has said, a book without Tantra’s yantra is not really a book on Tantra. Therein lies the great problem with researching Tantra. It is difficult to sort through the numerous books available to ascertain which one will have the best, most reliable information.  Finding a teacher versed in real Tantra is even more difficult.  Tantra is a way of life, not an hour-long yoga session Monday-Wednesday-Friday, nor a collection of kinky sex positions. Tantra literally means a “tool for expansion” and is thought of as a “web”, a connected yet expanding consciousness, bridging the microcosm with the macrocosm and back again, cyclically.

The author, Sinha, writes on page 15, “The basis of all Tantrism is the worship of Sakti and Siva, the female and the male principles…. Without Sakti, there is no Siva, and no Siva without Sakti.” Sinha states emphatically in the previous paragraph, “Siva and Sakti cannot be separated.” (14-15) This very specific religious and spiritual foundation is probably the reason most Tantrism in the West has been secularized, stripping the “foreign” and non-Christian aspects to make Tantra and sexuality more palatable for sexually-repressed Americans.  While I personally, do not subscribe to Sanatana Dharma (“Hinduism”), I appreciate the energies anthropomorphized as the balancing principals of Shakti or Shiva.  Sinha has included the “foreign” bits and ancient spiritual practices for the Tantra newcomer.

The photographs of the ancient depictions of Tantra, her goddesses, and the sacred symbols can be jarring at first.  The modern observer may find it odd to see detached penises and flying vulvas included in sacred sexuality.  I will admit, that it does seem a bit “J. Alfred Prufrock’ed” at times.  However, like all symbols, they are meant to jog the memory of the mind, the heart, and/or the subconscious self, not to be the whole story in and of itself.

Intriguing to some and perhaps shocking to others, Tantra: The Cult of Ecstasy helps diminish the hypersexualized celebrity of Tantra and add fact where fiction has reigned in the popular consciousness.  Sinha perfectly synthesizes centuries of teachings into a helpful, 154-page book, including an impressive 9-page bibliography and index, that informs but does not overwhelm the senses.  Anyone looking to dip her or his toe into the expansive waters of Tantra would do well to start with Sinha’s Tantra: The Cult of Ecstasy.

trish

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TOD: Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Closing Prayer


WarriorI am a big fan of Pattabhi Jois’ Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga practice.  I love the physicality of it — having danced in ballet and the theatre for almost 20 years (not counting ethnic and belly dancing), my body really responds to the physical demands of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga.  I recently got back into it…. and I’m so sore…. :-)

I make sure to distinguish between ashtanga, which means “eight limbs” and refers to the eight “steps” or “branches” of yoga: yama, niyama, asanas, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi, and Jois’ yoga practice that he called Ashtanga Vinyasa.

As I have just begun my campaign for United States Congress, I am stepping up my personal activism to a whole new level of engagement.  And so, I wanted to post Jois’ closing prayer that is sung at the end of every Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga class:

Om
Svasthi Praja Bhyaha Pari Pala Yantam
Nya Yena Margena Mahim Mahishaha
Go Brahmanebhyaha Shubamastu Nityam
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
Om Shanti Shanti Shantihi

Which translates to this:

“May the rulers of the earth keep to the path of virtue
For protecting the welfare of all generations.
May the religious, and all peoples be forever blessed.
May all beings everywhere be happy and free.
Om, peace, peace, perfect peace.”

A-women!  (Okay, I added that bit right there.)

trish

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