The Tower is falling. Last week two big organizations ostensibly dedicated to sexual evolution and skills building were brought to their knees. There are a lot of fakes–it’s too easy to hang a shingle and call yourself a sex coach, sex educator, tantra practitioner or intimacy coach. It boils my blood sometimes.
It is upsetting because so many people get hurt and become the prey for predators who are claiming to help them with their most vulnerable parts. And then the guilt that people can feel when they’ve been abused or taken advantage of is another layer to peel away–people think that because they sought out help on sexuality that maybe they deserved it, or maybe it was somehow their fault. It’s not. Ever.
The organization Source Tantra was exposed last week, and there are calls for it to shut down amidst many allegations against practitioner TJ Bartel and the way that the leadership, including Charles Muir, have supported him and turned a blind eye to ongoing abuse under the shield of the organization.
This is emblematic of deep problems in many (not all) Neo-Tantra communities where private sessions are offered–and practitioners need to be at the top of their game around consent, client focus, boundaries in client relationships, and sexual healing. This is very tender work and requires an extremely high level of integrity.
Simultaneously, the well-known organization One Taste, aka OM (Orgasmic Meditation) announced it will shut down all of it’s U.S. locations and switch to online work only. OM has been problematic for years, with so many accounts of predatory practices both sexually and financially and they have now finally been dealt the blow that will curb their ability to continue these practices. It remains to be seen what this will mean in the big picture.
I was never a fan of OMing even though many of my clients had experienced benefits from it. I do not ever want to take away from someone’s positive experience by critique so I stayed quiet. However, I will say clearly that any organization or practice that gives men access to women’s bodies is problematic. I know the practice of OMing is supposed to benefit women and slow things down, AND men were able to walk in the doors and have immediate access to women’s bodies with no understanding of who they are under the guise of OMing. This is deeply troubling.
What does all this mean?
The dominant paradigms are crumbling. Even the sexuality organizations who might appear to be progressive or radical, and yet maintain the patriarchal status quo are falling. Good.
Women, queer folks, and people of color are rising. We are seeing a lot of resistance to us claiming our power. We will continue to face that resistance and we will rise anyway.
This world has not felt like it belonged to us in the greater sense of who holds power and controls resources…and we are taking it back.
We will continue to need spaces where we can gather and do our work, be supported, be held and heal from the abuses of power that have kept us small, and the abuses of our bodies and spirits that have had us feeling broken.
The Good News?
Fire Woman Retreat was one such space, and I thought I’d share more photos with you this week so you can catch a glimpse of what we shared there.
Here I am with a bunch of the amazing, phenomenal teachers at Fire Woman: (l-r in back) Airial Clark (How to be a woman and not give a fuck), Kaweah, Mira Joleigh (Ambitionista), Kivi Neimi, and (front) Roxanne DePalma (PlayDen Productions) and Triambika (ISTA). I am absolutely honored to collaborate with such high caliber teachers and to call them friends.
Really amazing spaces exist where you can do your work to heal sexually, and to grow and learn. There are so many good teachers doing work righteously in the world.
If you want to work with someone on your sexuality, first of all congratulations on making a powerful decision. Second, know that training and perspective matters. I encourage you to work with women and people of color who have a deeper understanding of the power dynamics that can have us stuck in patterns of powerlessness, fear and oppression.
It’s extremely important that you find out who people have learned from and what the reputations of those teachers are. Abusive practices can be passed down.
NO ONE should be doing sexuality work without training. Period. There are too many landmines and too much at stake. If you find a practitioner who has not studied with reputable teachers, walk away. Check their references and google them. Do not go blindly into a relationship like that.
I have been doing this work for well over 20 years. I started by obtaining a Master’s Degree in Human Sexuality Education from NYU and went on to study with everyone from Betty Dodson, to ALIsa Starkweather, to Barbara Carrellas to Midori. I studied ShadowWork and have done a lot of other spiritual work to be able to tend the spaces I hold. I take that really seriously. Anyone who does this work should do so.
There are many many excellent practitioners. Get referrals and listen to your gut.
And if you have been hurt in a community or by a practitioner, please get support so that you do not continue to carry the trauma or harm that was done. Feel free to reach out if you want my support or referrals.
I’ll be canvassing this week to get folks to come out and vote. We can turn the seats we need, and it requires all of us to chip in right now and make that a reality. The personal is always political. What are you doing to support this election? It’s so critical! Donate, make calls, canvass, do whatever you can do to help us take back our democracy from those who seek to destroy it.
From all of us at Fire Woman, we’re on Fire!
P.S. If you missed Fire Woman this year and you want to commit to coming next year, you put down a deposit to save your spot for next year!