Over the weekend, I went to a Bodysex workshop with Betty Dodson and Carlin Ross. I didn’t talk about it much in advance because I was nervous and not sure what everyone else would think about my doing this. I’m back home now, and I can’t stop talking about it and thinking about it. I knew I wanted to write about it, but I couldn’t figure out what to say.
Then I had this dream:
I owe a lot of money to several men, and every time I accept help from another man, it leads to me being more deeply compromised. I feel harassed, threatened, and deeply ashamed. I don’t know why I owe anyone anything, yet I feel so very wrong. I go home to my parents but can’t bring myself to ask for their help because doing so would mean admitting that I am somehow wrong, even though I don’t think I’ve done anything to deserve this. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel: I keep picturing the face of one of the women from the Bodysex workshop. Every time I picture her face, I feel comforted. My instincts tell me I can go to her for help. She will not shame me, and she will help me find my way.
My alarm went off before I could go visit the woman in my dream, but as I wrote it down, I realized just how powerful the workshop was. Having known these women for only a couple days, they have already worked their way into my dreams. One woman’s smiling face is now a symbol of hope, love, and acceptance. I have never in my life felt safer and more beautiful than I did in Betty Dodson’s living room surrounded by these beautiful, strong women.
I’ve been trying to write about this workshop since Sunday evening when I took the train home and wrote copious notes about everything I’d seen, heard and experienced. I’ve been talking about the workshop to anyone who will listen while also feeling self-conscious about explaining it to people. Try telling your friends you just spent two days naked in a room full of strangers and it wasn’t weird. See what kind of response you get. My experience has been that everyone wants to be happy for you, but they’re also sortof perplexed and afraid you will disrobe at any moment without warning now that you’re a great big hippy feminist. And honestly? If I could get away with it, I would. One young woman in the workshop said it best: “Clothes never fit exactly right. But this?” she said, motioning to her own skin, “This is a perfect fit.”
But here’s the thing: It was the most miraculous, warm, supportive, joyful, sensual and healing experience I’ve had … maybe ever. Over thousands of years of twisted social programming, we have been taught to hate and fear women’s bodies and women’s desires. To be in a room full of women and embrace and celebrate our bodies feels like an absolute goddamn revolution. It was literally one big room full of bad bitches.
Furthermore, Betty Dodson is my personal hero and has been since I was like eight years old (no kidding) when I saw one of her workshops on a documentary and thought, “I want to do that.” So, in some ways I feel like I was born to do this work.
“And what is this work?” you might ask. For me, it’s the work of teaching women to love their bodies, teaching people that women are to be respected and revered, making people realize that when you judge, hate, and abuse women, you’re doing a disservice to humanity. For me, the work is dispelling the idea that Eve was made of Adam’s rib. Fuck that noise. You got born out of a vulva, ok? So stop acting like women are dirty. Hating women is hating the truth about where you came from.
At the end of the workshop, Betty had us all circle up again, look each other in the eyes, and commit to carrying on the work. Loving, accepting, and celebrating women can change the world, but there’s a lot of work to do, and it starts with us.