We spent the weekend with 75 women committed to connecting to and healing their sexual selves, and playing in an erotic playground at Fire Woman Retreat. It was a weekend filled with light, inspiration and beauty.
When we came out of it, we heard that there had been another mass shooting in Las Vegas, a starkly different energy from what we had just been cocooned in with our community.
As information came out about the shooter, we found out that he was a white man who came from a legacy of family trauma (his father was arrested and imprisoned for bank robbery). He had been through two divorces and was known to have berated his girlfriend in public, which means in private there was probably some amount of violence.
Again, we are faced with a man who wanted to control others be it with verbal abuse, physical abuse or ending their lives with guns. This is the deeply toxic way he knew to assert himself in the world.
A week later, the NFL continues to be under fire because players are kneeling for the national anthem as a way to speak out about racism and the lack of equality and safety for people of color. And sportscasters who cover this movement are told to “stay in your lane,” while players are told to “just play ball” and “drop the politics.”
As if playing one of the most masculine and violent sports that exists has nothing to do with politics and how we groom men to be men. Telling these men their only job is their competitive, brute football skills and that they do not get to have feelings, a voice or the chance to be whole people is exactly the problem. Thankfully, many are rejecting that approach.
Now another big sexual harassment scandal hit, this time with movie mega-producer Harvey Weinstein who reportedly cornered a woman at work and masturbated in front of her—and has settled eight sexual harassment suits to date. The woman who spoke up and told her story in detail took a big risk, prompting a slew of reporting on Weinstein’s propensity for sexual harassment over multiple decades. Finally, this week, he was ousted from his own company.
Speaking out with integrity is critical to end sexual abuse and harassment, racism and injustice of all kinds. Following Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby and Bill O’Reilly, he is the fourth big time media mogul to lose his power post for harassment.
At last, men are starting to have to answer for their abusive behavior towards women in the workplace, a sneaky undermining part of toxic masculinity. This is a key moment, where we’re no longer looking at a series of isolated incidents — but at larger social forces that allow some people to have power and others to be cut off from it.
It’s no surprise that Black Lives Matter is a movement started by black women and that the sportscaster under greatest fire for her NFL coverage is a black woman.
People are rightfully angry. Using our voices to shine a light on injustice so that we can correct the course is absolutely essential to create real change. Too often anger is used to demean and discredit those who speak out; the social pressure to “be nice” and “not rock the boat” allows these dynamics to continue unaddressed.
At the Fire Woman Retreat, we were in a place where we could replenish and receive deep empowerment. We were filled with light, hope and restoration coming back into this world, and we know that when we are faced with these kinds of disasters, the erotic can seem superficial or self-indulgent. But it’s not.
The erotic is our deepest human truth. Full stop.
This work may not stop a mass shooting in its tracks, but it changes human dynamics.
It affirms our inherent worthiness, agency and autonomy — exactly the things that get eroded and degraded in our culture of Harveys, Trumps, racial violence and mass shootings.
75 women more empowered to go after their desires more fully, to use their voices, to stand in their own power and to own what is theirs is not insignificant.
Every time a woman takes a stand for herself—whether with her family, at work, with her partner, or on the congressional floor—it’s an act of reclamation, power and activism.
It changes our world and the focus on toxic masculinity that obscures healthy ways of relating to one another as human beings.
None of us can do this work in a vacuum because that’s not how our world works. When we do it in community, we actually change legacies, collective patterns, generational or familial trauma and the cultural inheritances we will no longer carry.
At Fire Woman we witnessed deep unburdenings of all of that. We heard stories of sexual assault, cult abuse and some very deep pain. And we witnessed it being transformed within community, and being healed with so much love and trust. PLUS we gave ourselves space for fun, play and joy. We need that too.
When we trust the erotic, we can trust in our capacity for healing and the resulting joy and play that comes with it. We get replenished and inspired in a way that allows us to do the heavy lifting of cultural change. We create a vision together for what our families, communities and world can look like and we move towards that vision with our erotic core turned on and lit up.
Since the retreat we’ve heard some beautiful stories of what happened after the women went back into their worlds.
One was dealing with a very challenging situation with her grown daughter and she was able to show up more present and clear with her own boundaries in healthy support.
Another woman was able to show up in an exploitative situation at work so fully in her power and confidence that it completely shifted the dynamic and people began to think she was in charge. She was.
And another woman unburdened her history of abuse so profoundly that sexy love arrived immediately after she left the retreat, joyfully ending her multi-year celibacy.
We change ourselves, we change our world. If we want to fully be in our power, we must spark the erotic charge that guides us towards the light and beauty we are here to be and create. This is the antidote to toxic masculinity and a world where unconscious white men use their power over women and people of color in unacceptable ways.
It’s a time of intense political upheaval, environmental intensity and cultural friction. These deep forces of misogyny, white supremacy and toxic masculinity are finally bubbling over, and it’s not easy. But the erotic always wins.