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The Embodied Female: Voices and Visions


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The Embodied Female: Voices and Visions by Kimberly D. Harding, PhD - presented at Atlantic University's Spring Convocation, May 7, 2011

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The Embodied Female: Voices and Visions

  1. 1. The Embodied Female : Voices and Visions Kimberly D. Harding, PhD Colorado Mountain College
  2. 2. Embodiment of Female Energy
  3. 3. Project Summary  Creative Project format  72 artistic images  Poems and Descriptions
  4. 4. …Reality.
  5. 5. Why Female Embodiment?
  6. 6. Marion Woodman All my life I had hated my body. It was not beautiful enough. It was not thin enough. I had driven it, starved it, stuffed it, cursed it, and even now kicked it, and there it still was, trying to breathe, convinced I would come back and take it with me, too dumb to die (p. 178).
  7. 7. From Science to… • Emily Martin (1997) in Writing on Female Embodiment • Textbook passages describing female reproduction – “lack, degenerate, leak, deteriorate, discharge, ceasing, dying” • Textbook passages describing male reproduction“remarkable, amazing, sheer magnitude”
  8. 8. …the Paranormal…
  9. 9. Fear and Loathing… • How long does a woman have before she begins to hate her body? • A decade? Maybe? • In describing the process of female children growing up, and becoming aware of themselves, Woodman (1985) writes, “…but at bottom feeling rejected in her own personhood, blaming her ‘ugly’ body for making her ‘unlovable’” (p. 58).
  10. 10. Embodied Female: Voices and Visions 5 Sections Bone and Blood: A Woman’s Space The Vagina: Passageway of Transformation Clitoral Power: Desire for the Self Uterine Cauldron: Manifesting Power Suckle, Swallow, Speak: Expression and Relation
  11. 11. Bone and Blood: A Woman’s Space
  12. 12. Being Skeletal… • Women are currently rewarded for being skeletal, NOT for having a strong skeletal framework from which to engage the world • At what cost?
  13. 13. Deathless Nature • Clarissa Pinkola Estes – Women Who Run with the Wolves – La Loba • Kay Cordell Whitaker – Sacred Link – Fleshing of the Bones
  14. 14. Yes, I lie within the Goddess My Spirit Scoured Clean by Desert Wind Sun pulls My Eyes I want to burn to Ashes Others Stand By Afraid to let me FREE Please Goddess
  15. 15. Blood The Unifying Principle Unifying Principle With IN  DREAM Where you were One, now you are Two. Unifying Principle With OUT Connection with the world beyond herself Cyclical nature, potential for life
  16. 16. If We would Stop To Think Of IT…
  18. 18. The Vagina: • Passage through which most enter life • Adaptable- able to pleasure a penis and accommodate a new born • Marker of a woman’s own passages through life menarche, childbirth, and menopause • Esoterically serves as reminder of the transformative passageways we each enter long past our initial birth Passageway of Transformation
  19. 19. To Become To Be One’s Own To Move Beyond Faltering Hesitation Looking back with cold calculation To Transcend To Move Up Dreams Nights Myths Fantasies Of My Own To re-write Labeled falsehoods Left Alone Through the Birth Canal
  20. 20. When I was 40 I lost myself Mirror, Mirror On the Wall She rinsed my skeleton in the River Styx The smile broke and the tear fell Spoke and said I never had it I dreamed a large Virgin Mary At this place At 40 “oh this is where we get the River Styx” my silly thought With waves of her making she mouthed She cradled my skeletal remains in her giant arms Peace-filled smile upon her face I wanted to bear WOMAN Instead I bore Man I knew she knew the pain At life of difference.
  21. 21. Clitoral Power: The Desire for SELF
  22. 22. The Clitoris • Only structure in men or women designed solely for reproductive pleasure • Applause, please! • Represents woman’s desire for self • A woman’s hungers and expression of these desires
  23. 23. Above all else…. • “Don’t eat too much, don’t talk too loudly, don’t take up too much space, don’t take from the world. Be pleasant or crazy, but don’t seem hungry” (p. 110). – Chernik (2001)
  24. 24. • Although others will accompany us for portions of our journey, it is a personal undertaking at the end of it all. • The clitoris reveals that actions taken with only the self in mind are needed in life.
  25. 25. Would you like me moreNeedless- Restrained Or with needs, however smallExpressionless You could belt my mouth Tie my hands Wrap chastity around No self-creation then I have always been the type Who heard the call of chastity and Opened my legs FreelyMy mouth did the same An act of volition Corseted until fainted The unconscious Has always been The desirable type for some.
  26. 26. Uterine Cauldron- Manifesting Power
  27. 27. The Tissue that Must-Not-BeNamed • • Germaine Greer (2000) in The Whole Woman mentions the perception of the womb as a “hollow space”, a space usurped by the abdomen (p. 42). Women are more likely to declare abdominal pain than womb pain. • • Even if we refer to menstrual cramps, these are supposedly from some amorphous structure located deep within, emitting random pain signals, rather than the organ with which they are truly associated - the uterus or womb. Remains the tissue that must-not-benamed
  28. 28. Manifestation is not cost free. The implanted fetus needs nutrients and it will take them from the mother, no matter if the mother has the surplus to give or not. The husband, kids, lovers, family members may all love us, but do not necessarily always replace what we have manifested for them. We are not simply walking wombs of creation with an endless supply. We must ask the hard questions about what we want to manifest, invest in, and bring to birth.
  29. 29. Storms Mistake Number One She thought everyone Should be Happy Mistake Number Two She thought it possible To make everyone Happy Mistake Number Three She saw possibility as responsibility. No one bothered to tell her otherwise. They thought she wore it well.
  30. 30. Suckle, Swallow, Speak: Expression and Relation The chest and throat area of a woman houses the heart, breasts, voice box, and survival reflexes. The structures in this area represent a balancing act that will challenge most women throughout their lives. How does a woman sustain herself? How does she balance her sense of self in relation to others? How willing is she to express her own truth?
  31. 31. SUSTAIN… From where in life does a woman gain sustenance, physically and symbolically?  It can not always be in the act of serving others that a woman gains some semblance of purpose or sense of self. Symbolically, a woman must determine from which breasts she will obtain her nourishment – it may take the form of a supportive group of friends, a wonderful coworker, or a powerful series of books. Whatever the shape, she must find it in her life.
  32. 32. RECEIVE… But, it is not enough to simply find a place to suckle. A woman must be strong and aware enough to not only suckle but to relax and open throat to receive and swallow.
  33. 33. ASSERT…
  34. 34. FINDING VOICE • Women’s Way of Knowing (1997) • “What we had not anticipated was that ‘voice’ was more than academic shorthand for a person’s point of view. Well after we were into our interviews with women, we became aware that it is metaphor that can apply to many aspects of women’s development….We found that women repeatedly used the metaphor of voice to depict their intellectual and ethical development; and that the development of voice, mind, and self were intricately connected” (p. 18).
  35. 35. We stood fully Square You in white coat with name tagsingular identity Me script in hand- identifying Unknown to me You corralled a white collar And attached moral to your authority We gazed one to another I became blank to you No longer name on paper But Paper identified In your vision I had become Eve Wanton woman, fallen and sinned again The rage shattered my bones And I transformed it – a woman since EveTo A smile and Thank You Below I seethed To an identity that was never mine ISIS APPERS
  36. 36. SHE is PRESENT “When women are fully in touch with the experience of their own bodies, they can reclaim that full power within and use that power not to manipulate, not to self-obsess, but to reveal the mystery it is, to transform themselves and our culture” (Woodman, 1982, p. 36). Having transformed the world once already, we know enough to do it again.