there might be another way: sexuality, spirituality, mothering, feminism, environmentalism

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There is no f***ing syndrome!
The ebb before the flow
the storm before the calm
isn’t a THE, it’s a SHE
and that bitch has a name

To insist on calling her PMS
is to resist and deny her
refuse to listen to her
blame and objectify her

She is not a condition
that infected you
she’s the awareness of your condition
Affecting you

She is your best friend
from whom you have no secrets
she is your personal she-ro
and she’s trying to save your life

A SHERO I SAY
and hers is the power
to open a woman’s eyes
to her innermost side

Hers is the strength
to bind your restraint
and your ability to not feel
everything in your life
that’s just not right

She lifts the levy that releases
your ocean of anger, rage
boredom and depression
you’ve been keeping at bay

This beast requires reckoning
she’s looking you square
behind the eyes
and her vision is crystal

While she’s looking out
your job is to look within
What do you see?
WHAT DO YOU SEE

This is what awareness looks like

Now this premenstrual hero-bitch
is holding your good nature hostage
your shit has risen to the surface
and herein lies your power

To find the courage to affirm
the wrongs in your life
Your window of opportunity
to make them right

Oh yeah
that bitch has a name
mine is Lisa

My Goddess! Why have you forsaken me?! She:

Men are not to blame for taking
their rightful position as Children of God.

Woman
You forget
You are of Me

Allow him his God
Then
Remember

I am your Goddess
And it’s time you assume your OWN divinity.

My first impression of the Sexual Assault Prevention Tips poster confused me. I read it quickly, in extreme discomfort and distaste, then unconsciously pondered why this message appealed to the beloved friend who posted it. I’m forgiving to a fault, if such a thing exists, so I dismissed it from memory. (Perhaps I’m not forgiving at all – rather, forgetful to a fault.)

(scroll past poster)

Next day, there it is again, posted by yet another brilliant, beautiful woman. O.k. What am I missing? Again, quick to dismiss.

A sleepless night
riddled with disturbing dreams
A too early morning
pervaded by this f***ing poster

Now I suck at forgiving AND forgetting. And I remember – as long as I can remember – the sexual assault prevention tips I grew up with:

  1. You are responsible for not letting anyone drug your drink. Never let it out of your sight. Cue horror stories.
  2. Strangers are NOT to be trusted. Translate “I need directions” to “I’m going to assault you (if you LET me).” Cue horror stories.
  3. Keep your vehicle in excellent maintenance. If you’re ever stranded, the person who offers to help might hurt you. Cue horror stories.
  4. Keep your doors locked. Not locking them is as good as inviting in villains. Cue horror stories.
  5. Elevator etiquette: This is no time be friendly. No eye contact. It’s awkward. They’re either friendlies or not. What can you do but cue horror stories.
  6. It isn’t safe to be alone, outside at night. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM. If you don’t, you’re just asking for it. Cue horror stories.
  7. Acquaintances and dates can’t be trusted. They just can’t help themselves to raping you. Cue horror stories.
  8. If you drink to excess and pass out, people will help themselves to your body. Cue horror stories.
  9. Arm yourself (like a girl) with a whistle. They scare away the bad guys.

And I remember. Not believing, not heeding, breaking rule #7. Living the horror that the stories didn’t do justice.

Imagine unimaginable pain
of the physical
and emotional
variety

Some of it lasts
a year
Some of it lasts
forever

Oh, there’s always a temporary forgiving
A temporary forgetting
Until someone posts a f***ing poster
And I have to forgive and forget all over again

How to effect
a lasting forgiving?
How to reject
a lasting forgetting?

In the end
and every beginning
I only know how to pray
and advocate for education

Out of my shadow, out of hiding
Out of shame, out of fear
Into my light, into exposure
Into honor, into love

So this poster is absurd, no doubt – as absurd as the rules girls grow up with. Women’s sexual assault prevention tips are the western world’s burkas. How presumptuous, how primitive, how pot calling the burka black are we? These men’s sexual assault prevention tips are the light on our collective shadow, exposing our hidden secrets, honoring women’s shame, loving the hell OUT of fear.

First, a prelude: A couple of months ago, I saw a friend’s photos of an event called Burning Man. “Cool,” I thought.
Fast forward to the week preceding this year’s Summer Solstice and me searching in vain for a worthy event to mark the occasion.
Fast forward again to the bookstore last night where my favorite section was crowded, so I went to my second favorite section to wait for a book to fly off the shelf and hit me. When it did, I read a woman’s short story about celebrating the Summer Solstice at an event in the desert called Burning Man. Sadly, it doesn’t mark the Solstice any more, but I didn’t “know” that at the time my true story happened…

It’s the middle of the night and I’m awake:

“I’m sorry” I said to the part of me who thinks she knows everything.
“You think you’re so smart” she said.
“That’s the difference between you and me.
You think. I know.”
“But you didn’t know!”
“I did, my love. I willed it so.”
Then I slipped into sleep and my dream self awoke.
As she traveled to Burning Man, she thought to herself:
“That’s funny. The story said it would be dry and dusty out here,
but I’m wet and moist as an oasis.
No dust. It’s all love and primal lust…”
Then my lucid dreamer intervened and spoke:
“Lest you forget, your dreams speak Symbology,
show you below the dusty surface to your soul.
Go to Burning Man, and your waking Solstice dream,
the one you knew about before you learned about it will come true.
And just under your skin, you’ll come alive –
that’s the moist and juicy part that is you.”

Then, I was suspended in my favorite place.
“Am I awake or asleep?” one of me wondered.
Then my mind broke the spell and tried to take credit.
“Ugh!” I say. If you only KNEW.