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Reading “Vagina” – From Anger to Compassion

WARNING! I briefly mention trauma, but I also discuss a pathway to healing. Read only if you’re ready.


As you know, I fall out with “Feminism” on an almost daily basis.

It looks like this: “THAT’s IT! I’m done with Feminism! I’M DONE WITH FEMINISTS! They can all go to…” etc

The reason for this fall out came courtesy of reading Naomi Wolf’s latest book “Vagina” the other day, for my Feminist Book Club.

I had read the reviews, written by famous and worldly feminists, and now I’ve read the book I was really pissed off. At feminists, mostly. OK, at the feminists who reviewed the book in particular.

This time the fallout looked more like this: “Exactly what book where these  feminist “reviewers” reading? It sure as Hell wasn’t this one! They missed every single point! ARGH!!!


Because I was so angry with them, I did what I often do:

I told myself “well… they must be in a lot of pain

My first reply to this was “ok, yeah, whatever”.

A few days later, this reply came again as “yeah, yeah, I get it, they’re in pain

And a few days after that, it was more like “OH. I get it now. They’re in pain. I see”. The penny dropped.

It finally dawned on me: Feminists are in so much pain that any reference to sexual healing must be dismissed out front because they just can’t take it in, it’s too triggering for them. *deep sigh*

At that point, something shifted: compassion broke through and anger subsided.

The “Tantra” business

I’m not going to review the whole book here. But I am going to focus on the feminist reception to the “Tantra” stuff Wolf describes. She attends a workshop, interviews a tantric-healer and talks at length about what “Tantra” and its potential for sexual healing.

She makes it very clear that this kind of healing can help women develop a better relationship with their vaginas and their sexuality. The “tantric-healer” mentions how he helps women who have experienced sexual trauma.

And then, I remember how a Famous Feminist dismissed this “Tantra” business as “giving women a “really great wank”.

*sigh* The point, it is missed.

Wolf is trying to explain how Tantra is a way for women to heal themselves, from the pain brought precisely by sexual interaction of the “wanking” variety, ie: fast, superficial, pr0nographic. And this approach is lost in the eyes of feminists who can’t see sexual interactions as anything other than “wanking”.

I’m not going to chastise anyone. But I am going to ask. Request. Plead.

The Asking

A message to the feminists who did not like Wolf’s book, in particular the whole “Tantra”, “Goddess”, “yoni” business.

Look, I’m not telling you to like Wolf’s book. I’m not asking you to try Tantra, or even to write about it. Hell, I’m not even saying you cannot cringe at the mention of the “goddess”.

But I am asking you to be respectful. And to show a little bit of compassion.

There are women in this world who have experienced all kinds of sexual trauma. Who suffer from PTSD. Who have been abused as children, who have exited prostitution.

They are in pain and they need to heal. And there aren’t that many healing options for them.

“Tantra”, or whatever it is that Wolf described, is one of them. She makes it very clear: this tantric-healer helps women who have been through sexual trauma.

It is not fair on these women to close the door on the “Tantra” hoo-haa, just because it sounds “wacky”. Or because there’s references to the “goddess”. Or because it appears to be historically inaccurate. Or because it looks like the kind of thing that only white middle class people from La La Land get down to during the weekend.

The women who have experienced trauma need healing. Now. They can’t wait until we no longer have a patriarchy. And they can’t wait until “science” has enough women in its ranks to come up with healing techniques to help them. (spoiler alert: it won’t happen, science doesn’t work that way)

Yes, the “Tantra” stuff sounds wacky. Yes, the references to the Goddess may be cringe worthy.

But to the women who desperately need to heal? This stuff can be a life saver.

Wolf makes it clear: healing can only happen by engaging the “right” side of the brain. It will never sound “scientifically correct”. It will always be this side of wacky. Because, to the “left” brain, anything remotely “right-brainy” will always sound whacky.

And it shouldn’t matter. Because healing sexual trauma should be far higher in our list of feminist priorities than whether some bit of narrative offends our feminist academic sensibilities.

Here’s the thing: I don’t like this “Tantra” stuff very much either. I know it’s possible to heal from sexual trauma without bringing “yonis” and “Goddesses” in the picture. I know because I’m doing it.

But until an alternative method is available in every women’s organisation, fully recognised by every GP, and handed out by the NHS (that will be the day), or until I’m running workshops across the country to help these women (AND THAT WILL BE THE DAY!) we are going to have to rely on whatever is available.

A message to the women who need sexual healing

If you want to heal from sexual trauma and you have come across the “Tantra” stuff, please, please, please don’t be put off by feminist reviewers. Take what speaks to you and discard the rest. Get creative and rename things. Get in touch with me and I’ll try to help if I can.

But don’t dismiss it straight away just because it sounds “whacky”. Try to de-whacky-fy it.

It is possible to heal. But that requires us to stretch out of our comfort zone just a bit.

Wishing you all the best and lots of healing vibes.






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