Wild Woman: a rant, an invitation, and a plea.

There’s a lot of energymaxresdefault in the “wild woman” meme these days. Social media is saturated with endless personal posts and blog posts, poems and essays, that describe in delicious detail the “fierce, tender, succulent, sexy, awe inspiring, terrifying, gorgeous, irresistible” energy of this “wild woman,” and the post is always accompanied by some completely fabricated, photoshopped pic of some nameless, mostly or completely naked, always thin and big breasted, always cover-girl beautiful woman in some dancing pose or some otherwise “wildly” expressive pose in a beautiful place, or otherwise in the passionate sexual embrace of some equally magazine-typical beefcake babe of a guy.

I’m going to dive into some of the elements of this conundrum that get under my skin and disgust me every fucking time I see this drivel. At this moment I am going to approach this as a woman in a world that completely sexualizes me at every turn, and I am not going to get into the obvious other side of the coin that the “passionate embrace” pic represents: those beefcake guys are few and far between, and perpetuate a beauty myth amongst men that is equally damaging. I’m going to leave that for another essay, but I see it, and I acknowledge it and the way that it has shaped my relationship with men.

So be prepared, this is a heated piece, but it’s also a plea.  Don’t be afraid.

First and foremost, this entire approach to the “wild woman” is completely nested in idolizing her sexual value. Before you cry foul, ask yourself why are there never pictures of “fat” women, old women, “ugly” women? Because they are not sexually valued in our society, and are therefore marginalized in a snap. This approach to wild woman does not idolize and uplift this quality of the feminine for it’s own sake, honoring the possibility that it has nothing at all to do with sex or with men, it highlights it as a sexual energy: for women the unspoken meme is “wouldn’t you be lucky to be her, and be that hot?” and for men, it’s “wouldn’t you be lucky to be able to handle her, and have that hot sex?” This approach to wild woman goes on endlessly about how she’s going to rip you open from within in and demand that you arrive with your whole heart and authentic self (in bed), how she’s going to woo you into deep romance with the wild nature of life (which you can play out in bed), how to embrace her is to embrace the beating heart of life itself (in bed). Maybe in love, but definitely in bed.

That’s all lovely, and to enjoy all of those hot, deep, mysterious qualities in a truly loving communion of souls would be top-of-the-line AWESOME. I’m all for it.


What this approach to wild woman does not go on about endlessly is that women, myself at the top of the list, are sick-to-fucking-death of being idolized, marginalized, minimized, and aggrandized on the basis of our perceived sexual viability. We are hurt – HURT – by this constant grasping, pawing, and pulling on our sexuality. By every single thing we do or do not do as being some measure of our sexual viability in a world that constantly tells us we are only as valuable as we are young, thin, ample breasted, tight bottomed, and sexually available. We are hurt by seeing an endless array of beautifully rendered pics of stereotypically beautiful women posted with these clap-trap posts about “wild woman” saying, between the lines, that “if you are not this, you are not beautiful”, because no other expression of womanhood is ever portrayed in that spot reserved for “beautiful.” There are no photos of “fat” women. There are no photos of women with “ugly” faces and round, dimply, small breasted, big bottomed bodies, crooked teeth and screwy hair. There are no photos of old women. There are rarely if ever photos of women with their fucking clothes on, doing things that have nothing to do with this hyper-sexualized “wildness” but that are wild, make women (or anyone who engaged at that level) come alive, and make the world go round, nonetheless. Like wildcrafting herbs for medicine in the woods. Or sitting with their sisters in a grove of trees drinking tea and singing songs. Or standing by the oceans side, crying tears for the pain in the world, listening to the waves for guidance and solace, dancing by the fire, singing to the canyon… Or just being in the world in a daily way: working, mothering, tending the many faces of life in the ways that women do. Those things are not represented. Those women are not represented. Susan Sarrandon goes to the Screen Actors Guild Awards with her cleavage showing and the internet lights up with derisive comments about how she’s too old and saggy to show her goods that way, breastfeeding mothers can get tickets for feeding their fucking babies, while an endless parade of almost naked women sells everything from movies to cars to perfume, and people eat it up in sales, status quo, business-as-usual, baby. Fucking outrageous.

So are women that aren’t this skinny, naked, cover-girl faced woman that’s in all these “wild woman” posts less worthy of celebration? Are they less worthy of the title of “wild woman” because they don’t turn you on? Are they not beautiful? Are they not valuable?

What I want to see is a celebration of wild woman that leaves her clothes on. That doesn’t sexualize her. That doesn’t look at her dancing in the forest with the moon as a sexual invitation, but as an invitation to a deeper life wherein we are all participating in the stewardship of the world with care and a deep inter-relatedness with nature. If you see her dancing in the moon, go dance with the moon! Don’t try to get her wildness into you by getting your member into her: dive into your own wildness instead.   I want to see a celebration of the person that wild woman is: not the sex object.   This does not mean neuter your sense of awe or your attraction to her: it means to truly regard her as a part of the interconnectedness of all life and when you feel that sexual urge towards her, open yourself to see the PERSON that’s there, beyond just the sexual possibility that’s there, and open yourself to the AWE itself, so that you, as a whole being, can come more fully alive. Then meet from that place of aliveness, whole in yourself and honoring her as a person whole in herself who doesn’t need to answer your sexual hunger for her, and see what happens. That’s real life, right there.

For thousands of years, women have been told that our only value is our sex. For thousands of years. So as we are endeavoring into an earnest, wonderful exploration of what it would mean to live a balanced life that works for everybody and all the other creatures her in the world, let’s name the elephant in the world and take responsibility for the obvious: let’s not overlook that the constant sexualization of women makes in nigh on fucking impossible for us to stand tall as the equal participants of the life process that we actually are, and that impoverishes everybody, no holds barred.

Because that’s what we want: we want to participate without having to fight tooth and nail for respect and regard while fending off an endless array of sexual advances or sexual abandonments. We want to be respected, honored, revered, and integrated into the ongoing journey of creating the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. We want sex and passion and love, for sure, make no mistake! But we want to be met as people, not as sex objects.

We are people, and we want to be seen that way. And when we get old, or “round”, or “ugly”, we want to be honored, respected, revered, integrated, and included in the ongoing unfolding of life here on the planet because we are an entire half of the species, and no matter how we look, we are integral to the process of life on earth! That’s what we want to have known: no matter how we look, we are crucial to the unfolding of life on earth, just the same as no matter how a man looks, he is crucial to the unfolding of life on earth.

This moment on this planet is crucial, and it is fucking DIRE. People are completely anthropocentric at this point (meaning that we are completely obsessed with and only value people as a species, much to the detriment of all life on the planet), and unless the relations between men and women get sorted and set to rights, we, as a species, are completely fucked. We need to meet as people, because unless we come together in an integrated, respectful way, valuing all participants regardless of their genitals or their looks, things aren’t going to get better. They’re not.

So this is my request, as a wild woman in a world that constantly sexualizes me and all of my experience, or coaxes me into sexualizing myself, and then throws out the person attached to the yoni:

Be curious about me, the person. Be as interested in me, the person, as you are in me the yoni. Make an effort to get to know me as a person. Meet me as a person. Value me as a person, no matter how I look or whether I stimulate sexual attraction in you. When you see me in my power, just enjoy what it brings alive in you, don’t immediately reach for me sexually, or try to control it so you don’t have to feel what it brings alive in you. Let that inspire you to more fully embody your own wildness. Explore the ways that you constantly sexualize me and my experience. Notice the ways that you perpetuate the beauty myth by idolizing skinny, naked women as the beauty ideal. Pay more attention to images of “fat” women, old women, “ugly” women. Better yet, spend more time with those women. Value them for their wisdom, intelligence, aliveness, uniqueness. Value them as people, and value their beauty. Interrupt sexism, every single time, in yourself and amongst your brothers. PLEASE.

Reprogram yourself to have a bigger vision of what beauty is, and what wild woman is all about. Then get into that with your brothers. This is not only women’s work to unwind this mythology: men must take this up with men, and explore, in real ways, how they value women, and how they can value us as people beyond the possibility for sex that we do or do not represent to them.

Wild woman is not about sex. She’s about life. And so are you. Let’s meet at that level, shall we?

The Turning Point

12792392_491430591046277_5228222359559280866_oOnce upon a time i worked in a world-renowned, busy shop in a big city.  I had apprenticed there, and was cruising along with my art, having been hired straight out when i didn’t even feel that i was ready, but they said “you’re better than i was when i started, and you only learn by doing, so let’s go!”  Beaming with pride, i started with clients.
This i can say about my education in the art; i received a solid and generous tutelage from incredibly artistically and tremendously skilled people.  I also received endless support and encouragement from them, even though there were plenty of ways the edges of our various personalities and ways of being ground against each other.  I took this to be natural, and didn’t question the rightness or not of my being there, it was the fulfillment of a life’s worth of dreaming, and a privilege besides, to be with such talent, and to be so wholly welcomed into the fold (not the least because my first apprenticeship was a fiasco wherein a great deal of art and money was stolen from me, and i almost threw in the hat at that point).
There was always something that felt ultimately right, yet there was also something that always felt deeply wrong about the whole scenario, though i couldn’t place it.  I was not, at that time, too inclined to explore that beyond the point where i was attached to my identity as an up-and-coming tattoo artist in a famous shop, and besides, this was “a thing with people” – all of those are a bit strange, at least for me.  I just rested in the rightness of it and accepted the at first subtle, then progressively glaring, problems of the context of the shop and the nature of the industry as par for the course, things for me to learn how to deal with so i could get in deep, get successful, and earn a great living doing an art that i truly love and enjoy.
Within a short period of time, that perspective was demolished by two experiences; only one of which i will speak to at length here.
I sat upstairs in the shop, a long, narrow, tiny space in which there were three stations all in a row, separated by shoulder-height walls.  My station was in the middle.  I had a young woman in my chair, giving her a piece on her upper back, onto her neck, for which she was sitting admirably, and which i could also see was very painful for her.  We had begun alone, but in the course of our time B, the owner, and G, the other owner had arrived, and were gearing up for their days on either side of me.  When my cd came to an end (this was before ipods), B, who was a full on gutter punk (minus the gutter) and a world renowned photo realist, popped in some of his favorite tunes, which were obscure German death metal, sounding to me always like the hounds of hell baying in agony for having been thrown into an ancient industrial meat grinder, all recorded with the shitiest equipment imaginable.   And he dug it loud.  Shortly thereafter, he and G got into some boasting-cum-argument, which they were hurling back and forth at each other from either side of me, each hollering over the horrendous music at a progressively greater volume.  I was in the middle of this, quietly doing whatever i could to stay focused and grounded and not lose my shit with the both of them, when i realized that my client had begun to sweat, shake, and cry silently into the face rest, doing her best to toughen up and get through the process without “being a pain” or “wimping out.”
My world stood still.
A great wave rushed through me after a few seconds of utter stillness and internal silence, breathing a knowing into me of the root of the art as an initiatory rite.  I felt the sacred essence of the art surge forth and fill me, and that surging offered a glimpse of something so much more beautiful, so much more profound, so much more real, than how I was practicing based on what the industry ideal was, that tears sprang to my eyes.  I was breathless and shaking, slightly dizzy, and entranced by an awakening that was not subsiding.

A great teacher of mine once said that any sacred art that couldn’t be destroyed would be commercialized, which would neutralize it beyond recognition, and sap the pulse of the mystery right out of it.  It would therefore cease to be a way of diving deeper into the mystery of being and deeper into intimacy with the forces of life, and become a mask, a shell, and/or a parody of it’s essential nature, devoid of the life-giving magic it originally offered to the human experience.

Blinking my eyes, i sat there, my machine frozen in the air, hearing this boastful nonsense, assaulted by the horrible music, and overwhelmed by my impotence to secure the space to support my shivering, sweating, crying client, and something in me snapped.  Or snapped to, i could say.

A more right and real way to be in my position and provide for hers had just come alive inside of me.  I realized there was no way for me to properly care for her or myself in this setting, nor could the deep magic of the experience flourish there.  It was all wrong.  All wrong.  And i could only continue practicing if i made it right somehow.  If i made it sacred again.  If i made it safe, for her and for me.
I set down my machine, handed her her shirt, and spoke gently to her that i would like for us to be done for the day, and for her to come back when the shop was closed so that we could complete her piece in peace and quiet.  She wiped her tears and thanked me for that offer, after some feeble protests that it was ok, she could handle it.  I don’t know if i said or only thought that you shouldn’t have to “handle it.”
that was a threshold day.  Even though i was attached to my identity as a cool tattoo artist and my dreams of being wealthy and world famous within ten years, my relationship with the shop and the industry was nigh on killed in that moment of awakening.  When i went to my first (and only) convention shortly thereafter and witnessed some of the most deplorable behavior i had ever seen, mixed in with run-of-the-mill self-aggrandizement and petty narcissism, the final blow was landed.  I didn’t want anything to do with any of it.  In that moment, which was my turning point, the depths of my ancient, sacred agreements with the art had awoken.  As daunting as the prospect of maintaining a practice of this nature was and still is, everything in me breathed a sigh of relief: i had awoken to the pathway to right relation with my art.
Shortly thereafter i left the shop and took my practice home with me.  There was a spare room in my house which i painted blue and decked out to be beautiful, comforting, and peaceful.  this room became my studio, a sanctuary of mine wherein i could be the priestess that the art needed me to be, and the friend that my clients needed me to be.  When people came for work, we would have tea and visit before the session to drop in, bringing us into resonance and deeply humanizing the experience, moving it beyond the realm of “business transaction.”  Then when we began the session we would sit and pray together, invoking the elements, spirits, nature, and our ancestors and guides, before diving into the physical aspect of the work.  We would open the space in a sacred way, and endeavor into the momentous transformation of being tattooed with our prayers spoken, our hearts tuned to the mystery.  We would go through the process silent, or talking and sharing ourselves, or singing and praying, then close the circle with prayers at the end.  At the end of these sacred meetings my heart was warmed and lifted, feeling as though i had truly given something beautiful and unique to the person, and truly supported them to more fully embody themselves in their earth-walk.  This is still how i feel today, and still how i practice today, inevitable ups-and-downs of the experience included.  I feel that to practice in this way is to more fully engage with the inherent sacredness of life, providing a context for a deepening of self and a progressed awakening of the inherent magic of a person through the beauty of blood-rites.  For me, it’s the only way.

The way that i practice is designed to support the deepest unfolding of a person through their personal mythology in this life.  What have you gone through? Where are you now? What is your prayer with this piece? Who are you becoming with this transformation?  These are the questions that we explore when we come together, and what i have seen in people’s loves and journeys has been amazing.  The ways i have been able to support people into embodying their fullness in life has been extraordinary, growing in depth and magic with every encounter.  I am so glad that the art pours itself through me in this way, so honored that i am able to walk with this ancient, sacred spirit in my life.

This is a sacred art, utterly powerful and utterly profound.  When we give it our full attention, it gives us it’s full love.  In this time, every aspect of our lives is a testament to the deepest values of our soul and an offering to the world we want to create; i invite you to dive this deeply into the possibility of your transformation, to live your mythology, and embody the unique and brilliant singularity that you are in the world.

You are the only you there will ever be!  How is your spirit painted?