So many of us are facing pain around our bodies and our sexuality. I don't care if it is about your weight, breast or dick size, whether your body does not match your gender identity, scars, age or whatever it is. Pain and shame is not a contest. We can face body shame when we are aging, and we face it when we are young. I felt it the first time when I was a chubby 5-year-old and my mother told me that handsome men didn't like chubby girls. Now I am being told they don't like aging girls either.
When we are talking about women in particular, and body shame, we are faced with subtle messages that play in the background of our lives all the time. That's when it begins to happen, when woman begin to distrust the power of their own erotic body and their own beauty. We tamp it down and we give our sexual power away. Most women never come near accessing the power that their bodies have erotically. We are trained and conditioned not to go there.
A part of that conditioning, comes from the messages that women have grown up with around the "superficially erotic" by current standards of beauty. Women can't really win. We have been made to suffer and feel contemptible both when we meet those standards, and when we do not.
We have learned to suppress our sexuality and in doing so, we have suppressed our creative life-force energy. How many of us have been in the presence of really attractive looking women who fit the script and have felt no sexual energy coming from them at all? That's because they don't feel it either. These beauties have been successfully conditioned -- and it's an epidemic.
Here is my "naked" truth:
When I release my erotic self from society's constrained container of how I am "suppose to be," my life flows with color and a kind of energy that heightens, sensitizes and strengthens all of my experiences. When I am able to find this place within myself and release all of the myths around my erotic desirability -- I am able to show up in the body that I am in -- with incredible hotness that I feel first and then that I share with my partner. Erotic life force energy (sexiness) flows from the inside out.
Try not to roll your eyes.
If "others" are stuck in what they believe I should look like, then they don't get to have me. I much prefer this idea of inviting "others" to meet me in my own unique expression of my sexuality and my physical beauty. I'm a gift. So are you. And it took me some time to really heal the wounds of society and really own that place inside myself.
Most of us come from a similar perspective when it comes to sexuality and self-image.
The experience of our bodies, our self-image and our sexuality often gets lost in translation. Instead of saying that all sexuality and all bodies are about this or that -- let's recognize that even the words "sexuality" and "self-image" have layers of meaning built into them. We are an amalgamation of desire, life experience, bodies, gender, subconscious urges, shame, sensations, and behaviors. Parts of our sexuality spring up from us organically, and some parts are shaped by our culture, religion, and even our language.
"Sex Appeal" is not one thing or one way. Our sexuality is a holistic and whole body experience that is unique in its expression from human to human. It would be a huge relief if we could all stop pretending that we have sexuality all figured out and that we have all the answers. Sexuality is not geometry -- it's a living container. And it is found in all of our bodies at every age, shape and size.
So if we don't have sexuality and body image "all figured out," how do we support women who are an amalgamation of all of this so that they can grow, explore, feel safe, and heal their relationship Eros?
How do we present to ourselves naked?
I have come to believe that the women themselves have all of the information that they need deeply held inside of them, they just need the space and the space holders to help them unlock it. We need to be able to heal the wounds and strip away the stories that keep being told to us even in the stories that are meant to heal us! Sometimes, that calls for women to be naked together. And I am not talking about women engaging in some kind of group sex orgy. Even spending time in a Korean Spa can be very healing for women. We need to see each other's real bodies so we can open to the beauty of our own.
Recently, at one of the sexuality healing retreats that I co-facilitate, "Back to the Body: Sensuous Retreats for Women", one of the women wrote publicly about her experience watching me demo a live "Sexological Bodywork" session with two practitioners, Ron Stewart and Neal Wecker.
This is one of the bravest things that I do. It involves me getting naked, climbing on a massage table and receiving sensuous body work in front of six to eight women. I am publicly in an erotic experience for the sole purpose of "permissioning" and teaching other women about what is possible in their own bodies. Totally out of the box, right? And so life changing for our women.
We teach all kinds of skills through this demonstration, and it prepares the women for their own sessions. This is what one woman wrote about watching the session and my 50-year-old Rubenesque body. I get to confront every possible myth I have about my aging, changing, full body every time I do this. And trust me, it was pretty edgy for me reading the account through her eyes, just as it is for me to re-publish it.
From journal of Ali Shanti published on Facebook while she was at the retreat:
"This is the end of day 1. We have 4 more days here together. Each day, each woman has a private session with one of the men. On the last day, we each have a 4-hand session with both men.
But first, today, we got to watch Pamela get on the table with both men working on her.
I feel nervous to share the details with you. Let me just start by passing on one of the first things that Pamela shared with us about why she does this work ...
"Women rarely get to experience what it's like to be in the alchemy of their own pleasure."
Why is that? What keeps that from happening?
Pamela says that, for the most part, it's because the whole arousal part of our eroticism is skipped over to get to climax. We are trained to match our men, who are locked into an immature masculine pattern of orgasm. The 10-minute, quiet and quick, in and out, get em up and get em off reality of sex in our culture.
Neal says it's because women are conditioned to believe we have to choose between our pleasure and our heart and so we choose heart and turn off the pleasure.
Which one of these, if either, resonates with you?
When we have sex just to "get off," how can there be time or room for alchemy?
Today, there was time and room and space and welcoming of the pleasure that creates alchemy. It began with Pamela and her demo.
Pamela is a voluptuous woman. She has had two c-sections and bears the scars and the belly and the full breasts, wide hips, thighs and arms to match. She is what you would call Rubenesque.
And, she may just be the hottest woman I've ever seen naked.
How does she do it?
She says "I stay alive in my body all the time. I have body shame and I'm still hot." She takes full 100 percent responsibility for her sexuality, and her experience.
As she was on the table today demo'ing the experience of being worked on by sexological bodyworkers, we saw the alchemy in action as she rose to her knees like the Priestess she is, fully aroused and visible, pulsing with sensation, courageously letting us see all of her. Beyond courageous, really.
At the end of her journey, during the height of her orgasm, came moments of deep prayer, calling in the support of the Universe for her loved ones, for us, for life itself.
Pleasure as a path to alchemy. Yes, thank you, more please.
Through the experience of watching Pamela, I received the transmission of courage for my own alchemical, orgasmic experience.
What I found most interesting is that my mind would swear up and down I am as self-expressed, courageous and sexually comfortable as Pamela. But my body told another story completely. I was scared. Contracted. Uncertain. Worried. Would I be able to relax and receive?
Yes. Yes. Yes. I could. I did. I allowed it all and as I broke through my own pleasure ceiling, at the height of my arousal, I could feel the alchemy happening. And today was just day one. More tomorrow ..."
So why share this story? Because this woman was able to FEEL my hotness even if her eyes told her initially this story about my body that didn't fit the script about how "Hot and Sexy" should look. In my own willingness to move past the script about my body -- I can become the "hottest woman in the room." I allow it. Yes, my body has a story to tell. And it's my story.
It's time to take back our own "naked" truth. As women we have come to distrust that power which rises from our deepest and non rational knowledge. Yes! This is about the body! This is "Non-Rational Knowledge." We have to let go of the stories that we have been told and allow ourselves to connect back to our bodies.
We have been warned against this our entire lives by a world based on masculine power, perceptions and desires -- which somehow women have taken into our bodies as our own reality. We are taught to fear our depth, and women are shut down to examine the possibilities of it within themselves.
But our bodies at every age and presentation are filled with our erotic energy. This offers a well of replenishment and a proactive force so the women do not fear what it can hold for them.
Do not succumb to the belief that your reflection of me, is who I am.
When women reveal themselves to themselves as hot, sexy, raw and wild it is a provocative and radical act filled with power. Let's do it a lot.
Pamela Madsen runs retreats around the country to help women re-connect to their bodies to learn more about her retreats and workshops visit here.