Women learn about sex through the eyes of the world around them. They learn to see themselves through the desires of men and popular culture. Women grow up watching the story of sexuality being retold again and again through the eyes of the outsider instead of through their own bodies. This creates an environment where women learn to leave their bodies during sex and watch the reactions of lovers to their bodies instead of being curious about what else might give them pleasure, instead of just being the object of desire.
What becomes unfamiliar is feeling whole and beautiful in their own pleasure. Instead, the desire to be desired becomes the orgasm, the fetish and turn on.
Sexual pleasure becomes encased in this constant reaching to be seen, desired and pleasing to everyone but themselves, because that is what they see everywhere.
Women enjoying their bodies and their pleasure for their own desires are rare. What is needed is an entire re-wiring of erotic culture for women. What is needed, is for women to begin to understand how they have been wired, so that they can begin their own sexual renaissance and reclaim their natural erotic nature.
The key may be to raise the consciousness of women around how they formed their core erotic desires. When we can help women understand that they repeatedly conflate their own desire with being desirable we can support women to go deeper into their own bodies.
Women often say things like "I felt hot in those red shoes," or "I felt so sexy when I reached my goal weight" or "This lingerie makes me feel really sexy." These actions may make us feel sexier, because we think that being seen as more desirable is sexy. We get caught in the trap of male desire rather than our own authentic turn ons because we never really get to explore them. We are too focused on seeing our sexuality through the male gaze. It's an extraordinary exercise to support women to get into their own bodies and their own desires and then turn the camera on them so that they are able to see their own deep erotic creature reflected back to them. The results can be extraordinary.
We start with having women drop the mirror, usually putting a blind fold on them and gently awakening their bodies with light touch, sensation, smell and taste.
A woman's sexual renaissance starts from the inside, and has nothing to do with performance, entertaining; it's about feeling.
Woman need to be reminded of the knowledge that you are born as sensual beings. Your body is not a problem to be solved. You don't have to suffer, spend all your resources and study books to become sensual. Your own erotic aliveness does not have to struggle to be cared for. You deserve it simply by being born. If you are a woman, your womanhood and sexuality are beautiful. I think you probably get that even if you don't share that knowledge with others. Sometimes, women need to be reminded by having their senses reawakened or awakened for the first time.
Women who are supported to reclaim their sexual body are extraordinary, breathtaking, and beautiful in their own reflections of themselves, Doing this work with women in a safe environment where they are allowed to play in their own bodies without judgement, has the ability to support them to relight fires that have long been quieted.
When the women have fully dropped into their bodies, we take off the blindfolds and encourage women to dress or undress themselves exactly as they want to express their full on erotic being through their own eyes instead of through the eyes of society. In that moment something extraordinary happens. It's simply breath taking.
There is a change in the air. Women are reaching for their own sexual renaissance. At Back to the Body; Sensuous Retreats for Women, I've just completed my 36th sold out retreat in four years. Women are hungry to re-program their own wiring to find the erotic within themselves.
Freedom can only come when we allow ourselves to not only expose ourselves to our deepest fears, but to be seen in them. When we are willing to open the window and air out our shame. When we are courageous enough to speak our stories, legacies and myths out loud. When women are able to stand naked, in their own beauty and in their own desire through a female lens; everything changes.
True freedom comes from being seen naked as who we truly are -- not the roles and masks that we put on so that we will feel accepted and desired.
A sexual renaissance comes when we declare that it's time for our own personal revolution. We are the only ones that can give that to ourselves.
It has to come from the inside out and women have got to be given the information on how they were taught to believe that it comes from the outside in. That's where we start.
Thank you to the extraordinary women of Pamela Madsen's workshop, "Maiden, Mother, Queen, Crone: From Seed to Flower" for their generous sharing of these images. Photos are by Sway Photography. The author; Pamela Madsen's runs retreats around the world to help women re-connect to their bodies and sensuous nature and is author of the book; "Shameless: How I Ditched The Diet, Got Naked, Found True Pleasure and Somehow Got Home in Time to Cook Dinner" (Rodale 2011). Pamela's ground breaking work with women has recently been featured in "O" Oprah Magazine.