This past weekend I traveled alone to New York City to attend a women's event. This may seem like a scary idea to some women and a walk in the park to others; Central Park, that is. Get it? Hardy Har! Forgive me, I'm still a bit punchy.
I spent my childhood and early adolescence on Long Island. My mother worked in Manhattan and commuted on the Long Island Railroad Monday thru Friday for many years. She would often bring my sister and I into the city with her during school holidays or special occasions. During the 70's, NYC was a different place. It was a little grittier and funkier then and we loved it! It was jangly and raw-full of edgy people and dark places. Some of my childhood memories include walking past an old-school, storefront italian restaurant and seeing two huge men holding down a third man and beating on his head with a heavy wooden table leg; a thin stream of blood pouring from a crack in the fallen man's skull onto a red and white checkered table cloth that had slid free from it's platform. I also clearly remember seeing a hooker and her pimp fist fighting in the middle of the street while a car burned unchecked nearby; flames and black smoke billowing wildly up, up into the small patch of sky that seemed to be looking down on the scene in clinical interest from it's cubicle between buildings. I remember feeling frightened and squeezing my mother's hand. Her hand was strong and her stride was sure. "Keep walking," she would say, "Keep walking and stay near me". If there was ever any immediate threat to us, my mom would simply yell something magical like, "GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM MY DAUGHTERS!" and away the wanna-be perp would scuttle. That was just how it worked.
Times have changed for the better, I suppose. There is still crime, of course, but I daresay NYC is probably safer now than it's ever been. And even in its comparatively calmer state of being I still love it. Big cities like NYC are huge crucibles that allow for the most unique and extraordinary circumstances and events to occur. And I can feel the strength of my mother when I'm there.
Out of respect for the women in attendance we pledged to not publicly share details of the conference. I can say that there were 2,000+ women of every color, shape, age and socioeconomic status from all around the world in one space for the two day event.
I've written about the feminine experience here before and after this weekend I strongly suspect there will be more to come. Perhaps I've been holding back out of fear of alienating myself from the men in my life, who I love. Or maybe I haven't wanted to offend the religious women in my life who believe that a women's nature is inherently evil and we're not worthy of love, power, glory and satisfaction. Whatever the reason, I know now that I can't not speak my whole truth any longer. I am with no doubt, drawn to this work.
There's no question in my mind that we have been culturally conditioned to not trust one another- in turn, we have betrayed one another, and ourselves. We've been conditioned to believe that we are replaceable and interchangeable so we're in a perpetual state of isolated vigilance against one another. Our inherent caregiving instincts have been wrung out and used up until there's nothing left. And so many of us fight and fight until we give up or die. These are several observations that my few close women friends and I have made. After the validation of 2,000 sisters, I can safely say there's definitely an epidemic of what feels like feminine soul sickness.
You may wonder what this recent NYC experience was like. What went on there? Was there crying? So much crying. Was there laughing? Of course. Was there rage? Oh, you betcha. Was there dancing? About every ten minutes or so. What was the takeaway? The final message? Are you ready for this kids? It wasn't about getting angry, taking up arms and tearing down the Patriarchy (although this notion was branded on the heart of every woman there to one degree or another. I promise you that). We weren't encouraged to sit in a Kumbia circle and share our misery either. The purpose of the event, we discovered, was to learn that our power lies in our Pleasure with a capital P. A woman's power is in her pleasure. How many of you reading this just flinched a little? How many women reading this even have an inkling as to where her pleasure is? Turns out, we're hardwired for pleasure (more on this another time). The more pleasure we experience, the more powerful we are. Oh Sister-take that in, if you can.
I think of those times when my mom bravely navigated her two young daughters through those wily NYC streets and I realize that at the end of each of those somewhat harrowing forays, there was a pleasurable experience waiting to happen; a beautiful dinner, an exciting broadway show, a bawdy halloween parade in Greenwich Village, a powerful concert. Sometimes it was just people watching from the picture window of a diner. As inherent as her protective mama bear instinct was to her, so was her instinct to pursue pleasure for herself and her daughters.
Ah then. Now what? You don't have to answer. Just keep asking yourself where your pleasure might be. I'm still trying to absorb the implications myself. Thank you for reading.
To be continued...