When an unexpected medical crisis sends Naomi Wolf on a deeply personal journey to tease out the intersections between sexuality and creativity, she discovers, much to her own astonishment, an increasing body of scientific evidence that suggests that the vagina is not merely flesh, but an intrinsic component of the female brain—and thus has a fundamental connection to female consciousness itself.
We didn’t read this book in its entirety, just a chapter, but it was enough to catch my interest. It also sparked an interesting discussion among the Women’s Gender Studies class. When I signed up for the class, I thought I would be able to sail through without much effort, after all I’ve been a feminist for a long time. I follow pages like V-Day, The World Wide War on Girls, EmpowHER, Rebecca Eisenberg, and…I was a featured writer on the MamaFesto’s “This is What A Feminist Looks Like.”
So, imagine my surprise when I discovered the writings of Simon de Beauvoir. How could I have never heard of her? I’ve learned more about the history of feminism and read some fascinating articles. But, as I sat in the library before class on Tuesday, and finished reading the chapter “The Traumatized Vagina” in the book by Naomi Wolf, I pulled out my phone and texted my best friend. “So not looking forward to class today. Looks like we are going to talk about rape, sex abuse, and trauma.” I knew she would understand.
I know my triggers and I have enough experience dealing with these issues to be somewhat confident that even though I may not like discussing these things with people I don’t know well, I can take care of myself. I have written a little about my experiences here and here. During the class, I debated whether or not I should share anything, but I didn’t.
This chapter presented some new information about scientific studies, some new insights, and an unusual healing therapy, but in the end, it said what those of us who have experienced childhood sexual abuse or rape, etc. already know. These experiences have a life long impact on our mind, our spirit, and our body. Many of us struggle with eating disorders or alcohol/ drug abuse problems. My close friends know that sneaking up on me or coming up behind me without warning will create an unpredictable reaction. We also face challenges of depression, anxiety, issues with intimacy, relationship issues, and more. Our power, creative selves, and voices are taken from us.
Healing and recovery are possible. There are many ways to healing…therapy-either traditional or things like EMDR, medications for depression and anxiety, some find a spiritual path, and some need medical attention for physical issues. We can reclaim our power and our voice. I have had two amazing therapists in my life who helped me reclaim my life, voice, and power.
This comes from my “About Cathy’s Voice ” page on this site, As a child I learned that keeping secrets was the “norm.” We used the term “don’t ask-don’t tell” long before the military put the policy in place. I knew I had a voice, I just wasn’t allowed to use it. Over the years, I forgot it was there. I was in my 30′s before I knew anyone ever felt like I did. I didn’t understand that other people had experienced the same pain, the same shame, and the same feeling I had. But in time, I found my voice and when people ask me why I share my life and my story so openly, I tell them, “because I have to.”