Many women I spoke with who actually use the word “yoni” (often interchangeably with other terms) proudly identify with the idea of their vaginas and wombs as creative and powerful sacred spaces. It’s not self-hate or faux spirituality to them: they see the vagina as more than a body part. They see it as a source of power. It’s a reminder that at one time it was worshipped, not politicized, regulated, and disrespected. What’s wrong with women feeling more empowered and less shameful of their yonis, vaginas, pussies, cunts—whatever they want to call it ? The words we use about ourselves are powerful. And most women who use words like “goddess” and “yoni” are not fans of rape apology as Wolf is.
Ancient Eastern spiritual practices are often appropriated by Westerners who are in search of “answers” or a new experience. That’s what we do in the West, we appropriate! However, many people, including myself, have learned to treat these and other traditions with respect, humility and awareness of context. Therefore, I won’t dismiss people’s safe sexual expression or the way people choose to identify themselves and their body parts, even in the context of this ridiculous book.
If a bunch of women want to get together in a Manhattan hotel and willingly get their needs taken care of in a safe space by clothed men who have been “trained” to honor and worship the vag, then I support it. If women who have sexual trauma, or feel sexually blocked and frustrated, actually experience life-changing sexual and creative re-awakenings via a “somatic therapist” who does tantric massage at his house then I will cheer! Can we stop shaming people for their sexual choices? This could be considered a form of sex work and it is also what some would consider an expression of sacred sexuality.
I’ve been in these “alternative” spaces and know people who actively participate; this is no joke to them. Mainstream feminism’s tendencies towards the judgmental too often negates the legitimate experiences of many. I bet many of those people who believe in sacred sexuality would identify as feminists and/or believe in equality between the sexes; they might even use the word “yoni.”
Between the reviews and the book itself, I feel reminded as to why me and many other women are less inclined to identify with “feminism” these days—trapped in the middle of arguments that leave no room for our spiritual lives. Lately mainstream online feminist discourse has become defined by a specific set of beliefs that make someone a “real” or “good” feminist. How are we making those distinctions? These ideals generally ostracize people with lesser representation like women of color, LGBTQ women, disabled people, and even us kumbaya spiritual folks. It’s becoming more of a dogma than movement. That’s how we lose people. When we discredit different spiritual beliefs, particularly the Divine Feminine, or divergent experiences of feminism even though we all believe in equality, then patriarchy wins. This goddess isn’t having it.