Isn’t it extraordinary to be a woman? Isn’t it a miracle?
I recently attended a ‘Womb Surround’ process workshop skilfully facilitated by Cherionna Menzam Sills. She describes it as, “a small group format, based on that developed and refined by Raymond Castellino since 1992. It creates a safe, welcoming environment in which to explore early imprinting from preverbal life that is affecting your present life.” ( https://www.birthingyourlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Process-workshop-description.pdf)
I noticed, when it was 'my turn', that I felt a profound relief at being surrounded and supported by a women only group and loved the intimacy it created.
I relished and took my time basking in this deliciously safe, multi-faceted holding, each woman bringing a different kind of fairy dust quality with her.
I was able to receive and enjoy this unconditional love, and the spoken as well as the unspoken caring presence that was emanating from this group. I had intuitively placed them all in contact with me and towards the end of the session, they were all applying a gentle cranial style of touch to my heart, shoulders and I was holding their hands on my thighs.
We were very close and I felt so comfortable in this cosy nesting.
It was extremely moving, and healing.
The supportive womanhood that was created there and then was simply exquisite. I thought:
here we are, just women, together, so gifted, so absolutely beautiful in our vulnerability, our Earth connection, our innate primal wildness.
The mamas, the daughters, the Aphrodite and Artemis, Juno and Athena…the tenders to mother Earth, the life givers, the fertility goddesses, the holders and nurturers of the hearth, the educators, the witches and enchantresses, the fierceness, the integrity, the softness, the wisdom, the intuition, the extraordinary courage, the yin and yang of Woman!…
I am so glad to be amongst you, to be of your kind, of your quality, of yours…
I felt this at a cellular level. It pervaded every part of me and I could have sat for hours in this loving configuration.
I thought of my mainly female craniosacral colleagues, my mainly female craniosacral clients, my female friends, my female teachers, my sister, my mother, my female ancestors, my heroines and female cultural icons…
So many amazing beings in so many ways, yet in so many ways not praised enough, not celebrated enough, not thanked enough for their fantastic contribution to Life, to the teeming luscious creative expression and tenure, 'cathedra' (seat in Greek) of the living.
I have associated intimacy, closeness with women with the threat of death because my mother told me a number of times growing up that she almost died giving birth to me, which unconsciously for the 7, 8 years-old I was, translated as I almost killed my mother when coming to this world.
Not a great start...
It has taken a few decades to turn this around, part of a life-long journey towards accepting and celebrating my femininity (a term itself culturally tainted with stereotypes), my vulnerability, my strength, my wildness, my womb.
As a result of my insecurity around women I turned to men as role models and for safety. I hung out mainly with boys growing up, my brother in particular played a key part in my relationship to safety and support.
I often admired my male counterparts for their freedom and apparent confidence, their bravado.
In this act of admiration I often lost my own freedom and confidence for I was poor at maintaining healthy boundaries with my peers and was not grounded enough, anchored enough in my own sense of self to see through and point out, protect myself against the abusive attitudes of some of my male counterparts.
I did not notice then how skewed against women and belittling their language was, how it privileged masculinity…
The French language is a case in point because each word has a gender and a lot of professions for example, doctor, writer, director, actor do not exist in the feminine…
In the same way when a group of women gather and one man is amongst them, the pronoun ‘they’ which is neutral in English becomes masculine in French just because one male has joined in, the masculine always wins in French grammar. Yes, we hear this at school growing up, it is institutionalised.
You may think this is petty stuff? Well, how do you think this kind of insidious cultural in-graining from the toddler stage to adulthood unconsciously does to someone’s psyche?
And these are just examples, a tiny fraction of all the male bias in my native language. It applies to other nationalities too of course and not just to language. It is a worldwide phenomenon with different degrees of affect and impacts.
In a recent article for the Guardian newspaper, Caroline Criado-Perez speaks eloquently about this “world built for men”. “Going back to the theory of Man the Hunter, the lives of men have been taken to represent those of humans overall. When it comes to the other half of humanity, there is often nothing but silence. And these silences are everywhere. Films, news, literature, science, city planning, economics, the stories we tell ourselves about our past, present and future, are all marked – disfigured – by a female-shaped “absent presence”. This is the gender data gap. “ (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/feb/23/truth-world-built-for-men-car-crashes)
In a brilliant piece she shows how this is affecting women negatively and could even put their lives at risk: from medical and occupational research, to the design of every day objects…
Please do not see this piece as yet another male-bashing exercise.
This is more an attempt —just like in a biodynamic craniosacral treatment— at re-balancing, re-adjusting our lenses which often are blind to the subtleties of discrimination, the “absent-presence”, the “gender data gap”, the contours and substance of every day language…
This is a wish for wholeness, reintegration and celebration of who we are, women and men in the mighty alma mater ( meaning nourishing mother in Latin) that is planet Earth.
This is a call for praise, love and thanks to all the women in our lives who are so often taken for granted; a call to learn to see them as they truly are, not through the prism of cultural bias and prejudice, but to dare to go beneath that veneer to meet the profound humanity and amazing cornucopia that is Woman!