Sweetening the Pill

55 years after the release of the Pill, we think birth control needs a second, and thorough, look. Women fought fiercely to get the birth control pill, but now we seem to be fighting to get off it. In 1960 the birth control pill was all about progress, but does it still fit with our values today?

Sweetening the Pill is a fabulous book which explores the hidden dangers in the contraceptive pill… and why we’re not told about them.

It gets a couple of mentions in the second edition of my book, Moon Time. THAT’S how important I think it is.

During those decades when we’re trying to avoid getting pregnant, many of us seem to find ourselves settling for a method we’re not entirely happy with or switching from one hormonal contraceptive to another – from pill to implant to ring, for example – trying to find something that fits.  The ads and inserts give us long lists of the possible side effects, but it doesn’t make them any easier to live with.  Some non-hormonal options seem to have disappeared almost entirely (anybody try to get a diaphragm lately?) while more hormonal options have become available.

So when author Holly Grigg-Spall let me know that she was launching a Kickstarter campaign to make a much-needed documentary on the topic… I said hell yeah, count me in! It is being executive produced by Ricki Lake and directed by Abby Epstein, the team behind The Business of Being Born.

Intrigued? Let them tell you more, in this Exclusive Q&A with Ricki Lake, Abby Epstein, & Holly Grigg-Spall

What made you want to shed light on this topic of hormonal contraceptives?

Ricki: It really seemed like a very natural progression for us from ‘The Business of Being Born.’ Women spend more time trying to avoid pregnancy – a decade or more at the start, then they have babies, then they’re back to trying to avoid it for further decades. It’s an experience all women share. What we did for birth, we want to do for birth control, and empower women with more information and more choice. ‘The Business of Being Born’ was about body literacy and this project is the same – it’s about women knowing, understanding, and trusting their bodies.

Abby: We’ve both had our own negative experiences with different kinds of hormonal contraceptives over the years. We know other women who have experienced the same thing. Holly Grigg-Spall sent us her manuscript for ‘Sweetening the Pill: Or How We Got Hooked on Hormonal Birth Control’ and something just clicked when I was reading it. For the first time, I was connecting emotionally difficult periods in my life to the use of the pill and it just made so much sense to do this film. We could approach birth control with women’s empowerment in mind, too.

Holly: For me, I wrote the book because I had a pretty terrible personal experience with the Pill, which I used for ten years consistently. The book began as a blog that I wrote about coming off the Pill and my experience doing that, how it made me feel, finding alternative contraception, learning about my cycle and so on. That blog meant that lots of women got in touch to share their own stories. I realized the extent of this problem. I then soon realized it was really taboo almost to criticise the Pill or the culture around the Pill. That interested me. I saw ‘The Business of Being Born’ when I was actually writing the book and I made the connection right away. I wrote about the parallels between the birth and the birth control industries. I knew that the book could make the basis of a great documentary and that the absolute best people to do this would be Abby and Ricki. I set my sights on that. Of course, I am now over-the-moon about the film. A book is one thing, but a documentary like this can reach so many more women.

We believe that the birth control pill was one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century. But we think women deserve more and better options, not less of them. Hormonal birth control often dominates the conversation, but, like a hospital birth or cesarean, it’s not always the best choice for all.

The Kickstarter campaign highlights Fertility Awareness Methods as a non-hormonal alternative, particularly when supported with apps and new technology. How did this area come to your attention?

Ricki: We got introduced to Kindara first through Holly’s book and we have met with them and discussed their work with their app and new wireless basal body thermometer, Wink. They want to democratize this knowledge, make it part of every woman’s education. They really think it could change things for the better when it comes to women’s lives. We also spoke with the makers of Clue in Berlin. They’re helping women track every part of their monthly cycle. It’s great progress for women’s reproductive health. Just this week we saw that Apple finally decided to add menstrual cycles to their HealthKit app. This is wonderful. It means other apps can sync with the native technology on the iPhone and it means more women will come to realize they can track their cycles and benefit from being aware of this information. They will be made aware of that option.

Abby: Really the technology sector is leading the way here. We’re seeing them step up and help and support women who don’t want to or can’t use hormonal contraceptives. They’re making using Fertility Awareness Methods simpler, easier, less time-consuming and more approachable. They’re getting in the media and getting their message out there. And these people are also a wealth of knowledge because thousands of women are using their apps and talking to them about their cycles and experiences.

A lot of women take the Pill for other issues these days, not just for contraception. Do you want to explore this?

Abby: Absolutely. A couple of our film advisors work in this area – providing holistic, natural reproductive health support. They are working with women who have found the Pill hasn’t helped them long term. They’ve had side effects or the problems they had before have returned after coming off. They’re struggling to get pregnant. The Pill is prescribed for so many health problems these days and, although it’s definitely helpful and even essential for some women, it’s not the right treatment in all situations. In the Kickstarter video we highlight one part of this – how women are using it to regulate their cycles, even though they’re getting misleading information on that.

Holly: This is such an important area. More and more women are on the Pill for everything from acne to PCOS and yet the Pill doesn’t treat these problems, it only masks them. When women come off, most commonly the issue returns and might even be worse than before. We think that women have to suffer with PMS, like it’s our destiny, inevitable, when actually a lot of hormonal balance-related problems can be treated properly long term with alternative protocols. Women deserve better. They don’t have to put up with this stuff. And they don’t always have to use drugs that give them side effects to fix the problem. For some women, as Abby says, hormonal contraceptives are essential treatment. But we’re at a point now where it’s being doled out like a cure-all and it’s just not.bc

Why have you turned to Kickstarter to get this movie made?

Abby: We spent a year going the traditional route and we met with a few networks and production companies. We had a lot of discussion and a lot of real interest. People were saying this film could be “the Food Inc. of birth control.” Everyone has a story or knows someone who has a story about this, it’s just that kind of subject. But, it doesn’t have that commercial pull. It seems, at first, a little scary even. Some people struggle to understand the perspective. We have to explain that it is not anti-birth control or anti-Pill. Instead it is pro-informed consent, pro-choice, and pro-knowledge. We want women to have more options for contraception, not less! We want them to have more access, not less! It’s a feminist film project. This topic is very politicized right now, so that takes a little time to explain.

Ricki: People might not realize, but we didn’t actually make any money from ‘The Business of Being Born’ – it was hugely successful in many great ways, but we lost money. Documentaries are really passion projects. We know a grassroots effort is right for this project, it spreads awareness and gets the conversation going. Women will share their stories and may even share their stories for the film. They will have their experiences validated by this, which is so important. The campaign is doing really well, but we have to keep going strong to reach our goal now.

Watch the trailer… And please do give them your support. We need to ensure that all women have access to objective information before they make their contraceptive choices.

Please do take a moment to support this much-needed documentary. The Kickstarter Campain runs till July 3rd. This is why they need your support:

Whatever amount you can give, however small, will act as a vote of support for this project. You’ll be voting for you and for all the women, and men, in your life to be empowered to make fully informed decisions about how we manage our fertility and to have support in whichever choice we make.

 

ProCreate – showcasing artist mothers

The Placenta Effect

Image: ProCreate Project.   Creative Direction: Dyana Gravina.   Photography: Digpal Singh Rathore.    Post Production: Amanteri Francesca.

I get approached by a lot of women, with a lot of exciting projects, not all of which I can get involved with.

ProCreate jumped out of my inbox at me.

As a creative mother, who has written a #1 Amazon bestseller for creative mothers – The Rainbow Way: cultivating creativity in the midst of motherhood… I was SOOOO excited to find out about this project, from Dyana Gravina, an Italian artist and entrepreneur currently based in London.

ProCreate Project is a collaborative medium for female artists that aims to support and
produce artist’s works during pregnancy and beyond. My dream is to make Procreate project become an agency dedicated to women, artists. I would like to be able to showcase through a vast range of activities their work, create and produce for and with them new pieces of art
using what for me is a generative force, pregnancy and the wonder of motherhood!

I asked her to share a bit more about her story with us…

After the 5th month of pregnancy my body underwent enormous changes: my belly grew bigger and as my physical transformation became more apparent, that force inside of me also grew stronger and more physical.

I was being influenced by that wondrous little creature that was generating a creative rush like I had never felt before, inspiring me to become even more driven and persevering.

I was in full bloom. I wanted to drown myself in the ocean of creative ideas crossing my mind; start painting and playing music again. So one night, before falling asleep, I suddenly pictured the logo in my mind’s eye: a light bulb and a foetus…and I would call it ProCreate.

procreate-03

Just like that it came to me. At first I thought it was the beginning of an event; I was not sure what I was creating it for, and I was alone when I started this journey. But now I have travel companions and I am building up my company, and it is all thanks to this creative process that I experienced in my life…when I least expected it!

I struggled to find a community where other female artists could express this creative feeling or, indeed, any medium that talked about the connection between creativity and pregnancy. I wondered whether I might be going crazy; was I really the only woman on earth to be feeling this way?

So I started advertising online for other female artists who may relate to me and my newfound passion and it was not long before responses started to pour in.

pollypenrose

Image: Polly Penrose, 7 Years of Self Portrait, A BODY OF WORK – contributor to ProCreate Project.

By sharing my story with other artists I finally realized that what I felt was real. After a long period of solitude, I felt I had found something beyond my initial expectations: the friendships I have formed with all these women, and the stories I have heard from other females are simply amazing. I am not saying that every woman feels or should feel as we do, but there are many that do and I truly believe it is important to empower and support that – and them. This journey helped me rearrange my priorities and find out what really mattered to me.

madonna

Image: Dyana Gravina.  

There are women who have created incredible art and worked more passionately during pregnancy, and we definitely need to encourage this and make it possible in any way we can.

Procreate Project aims to become an agency with the determination to showcase and produce artistic creations with and for creative mothers / to-be. We work alongside the creative compulsion of mothers (to-be) who are feeling or have experienced this power, in order for them to advance productively and connect them with the forefront of creative business, correlating them with relevant movements, scenes and diverse niche groups in society.

We have just launched MAMA – mothers are making art, in collaboration with The Museum of Motherhood of NYC. For more see: http://mommuseum.org/2015/05/31/m-a-m-a-the-art-of-motherhood-click
And http://www.procreateproject.uk/mama-international/

11018575_10152696878966616_2271151057474561475_nMy book, The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood, and some of my art will also be included.

You can see more of Dyana’s project, and learn how to get involved at her stunning website: www.procreateproject.com – all images on this post come from her site, with permission.

 

Moon Time is re-born

 

LucyMoonTime

The second edition of my book, Moon Time, has LANDED! And until Saturday, there is a FABULOUS LAUNCH BONUS… read on for details… and grab it whilst you can.

Moon Time shares a fully-embodied understanding of the menstrual cycle whether you’re struggling with PMS, coming off hormonal birth control, getting your periods back after pregnancy… or wanting to deepen your understanding of your body. It is packed full of practical insight, empowering resources, creative activities and passion. Including:

  • Guidance on living and working in sync with your cycle.
  • Natural approaches to healing PMS.
  • Self-care practices to nurture and support.
  • How the moon impacts our cycles.
  • How to celebrate a girl’s first period.
  • How to start your own red tent or moon lodge (it was the first book in print to document the rise of the red tent phenomenon!)

Originally self-published back in 2012, Moon Time was my first book. It has been recommended woman to woman, being hailed as ‘life-changing’ by readers around the world, consistently placing it #1 in Menstruation on Amazon.com.

We are thrilled to be bringing it into the growing Womancraft Publishing catalogue at last. Join the mailing list and get a FREE SAMPLE of Moon Time plus 10% off signed copies.

CoverMoonTimeGet it now from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk or a signed copy from the Womancraft Publishing store.

The second edition is YOUR book. I have read every email, Amazon and Goodreads review, every letter, card and Facebook comment and incorporated your valuable feedback. The Moon Launch has been supported by a wonderful Moon Team of doulas – authors, teachers, coaches, creatrixes in my field – around the world. (Be sure to read to the end to find out more about these generous hearted sisters.)

This new edition has been lovingly revised, with a beautiful new cover and subtitle… and contains over 45 pages of additional material including:

  • Fertility charting.
  • Much more on creating ceremonies: menarche, mother blessing, menopause…
  • Moon phases and celebrations.
  • Healing modalities for the womb.
  • More on the red, white and wise woman cycles.
  • A hugely expanded and fully-updated resource section.

In revising it I actually doubled it in size… but then thought some of that new content would be better off in a new book… so I took it out… but the new book has taken on a life of its own in quite a different direction… So long story short… for one day only… I’m giving it away!

You can get your hands on my favourite missing chapter: Welcome to your Womb… plus access to a live group call with me next week.

But hurry! To qualify you need to buy a paperback or ebook copy on FRIDAY JUNE 5!

LiveCallBannerHow to claim your bonus features:

1. Buy a copy of Moon Time: harness the ever-changing energy of your menstrual cycle on launch day FRIDAY June 5 2015. (Paperback or ebook format – it doesn’t matter which.) Get it now from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk or a signed copy from the Womancraft Publishing store.

2. Simply fill in your name, email address and your Amazon order code, or order number from the Womancraft store on this handy form.

3. We’ll look after the rest! You will receive a bonus e-chapter this weekend of the book plus an invite to a video call with me: Living in Flow – harnessing the power of your menstrual cycle will take place on Wednesday June 10 2015 at 8pm GMT.

(Don’t worry if you aren’t available – we’ll send everyone a link to a recording of the session that will be available for 7 days after the event.)

PRAISE FOR MOON TIMELucy your book is monumental. The wisdom in Moon Time sets a new course where we glimpse a future culture reshaped by honoring our womanhood journeys one woman at a time.
ALisa Starkweather, author and founder of the Red Tent Temple movement.

A beautiful, inspiring book full of practical information and ideas. Lucy not only guides us through the wisdom inherent in our wombs, our cycles and our hearts, but also encourages us to share, express, celebrate and enjoy what it means to be female.
Miranda Gray, author Red Moon and The Optimized Woman

This book could change your life!
Rachael Hertogs, compiling editor Thirteen Moons and author Menarche: A Journey to Womanhood

NativeAmericanQuote

Meet my wonderful Moon Team of doulas…

I have become acquainted with every single one of these women via my book – I honour their support and am deeply grateful for their willingness to stand shoulder to shoulder with me and share my work with their people. There are sisters here from Ireland, UK, US, France and Australia. Do take a moment to visit their wonderful businesses, and check out their fab books and programs.

Holly Grigg-Spall & Dana Michelle Gillespie co-created #RockYourRhythm awareness campaign. www.rockyourrhythm.com Find out more about their charting app from http://www.mymoontime.com which was in part inspired by Moon Time.

Molly Remer is a priestess, writer, teacher, and artist. Author of Womanrunes: A guide to their use and interpretation, she blogs at Talk Birth (http://talkbirth.me) and (http://goddesspriestess.com).

Rachael Hertogs, Creatress of Moon Times washable pads, author of Menarche a Journey into Womanhood, Doula, Reiki Teacher, Moon Mother, Red Tent facilitator, Beekeeper and Earthy lady! www.moontimes.co.uk

Lorraine Ferrier, Natural Fertility Expert and creator of the Fertility Joy Program—which blends ancient wisdom and scientific know-how to make your baby dreams a reality. www.lorraineferrier.com

Melia Keeton-Digby, sacred circle facilitator, transformational life coach, and author of the forthcoming book, The Heroine’s Club:  A Mother-Daughter Empowerment Circle  http://www.TheMotherDaughterNest.com

Giuliana Serena is a Ceremonialist, Rites-of-Passage Facilitator, Menstrual Cycle Educator, lover of Ritual and Magic and the Moon, and creator of the Moon Cycle Timepiece: a hands-on spiral calendar for lunar and fertility awareness. www.MoontimeRising.com

Karin Chandler ~ menstrual activist, writer and Druid celebrant; fusing feminism and spirituality with the blood mysteries.www@redwisdom.co.uk

Ruby Toad, a gifted intuitive, empath, healer and spiritual mentor bringing spirituality back to its roots as a powerful and practical tool for real life. www.rubytoadsoulfulenergies.com

Suzanne Thomas, Storyteller/weaver of the Red Thread, https://cranesfield.wordpress.com/

Corinne Andrews, Birthing Mama® Prenatal Yoga and Wellness ONLINE Holistic Pregnancy Program  www.birthingmama.org

Paula M. Youmell is an Holistic RN Healer, Health Educator, and Author in Potsdam, NY. www.PaulaYoumellRN.com

Avalon Darnesh’s calling is to support women reclaiming sexuality within motherhood, including sensual pregnancy and ecstatic birth, for a more blissful and beautiful family life. http://www.blossomingwoman.com.au

Karina Ladet is a soulful and creative mum, intuitive reader, coach, writer and teacher who helps people to trust and develop their own intuition. www.karinaladet.com

Becky Jaine, writer, mother, heARTist, joy activist in ever-rotating order. www.beckyjaine.com

Awen Clement, Virtual Assistant and Women’s Priestess working from the heart and womb. www.wildmagpie.co.uk www.connectedwomen.co.uk

Kathryn Cardinal – Herbalist, Fertility Awareness Educator & Moon Lodge Facilitator www.SpringMoonFertility.com www.Facebook.com/SpringMoonFertility

Christine Agro is the Founder and High Priestess of The Church of Nature and the Founder/Station Director for Nature’s Channel.FM. which offers all Nature based programming. www.Natureschannel.fm

Kirpal Joti Kaur is an International Bestselling Author / Healer / Teacher / Life Coach / Public Speaker / Priestess & Owner of “Lochcarron Retreat” www.lochcarronretreat.com

Becky Annison is a feminist and knitter who blogs about sustainable simple and sustainable living. https://westwickdreaming.wordpress.com/

Shirley Gain is a mindfulness and creativity coach and mother who is passionate about inspiring mothers to nurture their own needs and dreams amidst the ‘busy-ness’ of motherhood. www.sunflowermama.com

Lucinda Button works with Mothers as a Coach and Mentor, to help them go beyond what their parents didn’t give them, use their parenting triggers as mirrors, and helping them deepen their connection with themselves and their children. www.mamaspace.co.uk

Jackie Singer is a celebrant and healer, and author of Birthrites – Rituals and Celebrations for the Child Bearing Years. www.jackiesinger.co.uk

Fiona Morris is a medical herbalist, massage therapist, nature artist, astro-tarot reader, tutor and founder of Nourish and Flourish, empowering folk to heal with nature at her creative herbal workshops, wild remedy foraging walks, holistic clinics, and natural wellness blog. www.fionamorrisherbalist.co.uk
Lou Hayden –Wise Woman Well Woman – holistic health
Donna Raymond – Founder at Donna Raymond, Wise Wombman Dreaming
Jackie Stewart of FlowerSpirit and SoulSanctuary
Summer Thorp-Lancaster – Doula at Summer Birth Services
Wendy Cook -Artist/Owner at Mighty Girl Art

Eve Agee, Author – The Uterine Health Companion

Jane Hardwicke Collings – author and teacher of Shamanic Midwifery

Jane Bennett – teacher and co-author of The Pill:  Are you sure it’s for you?

Miranda Gray, founder Womb Blessings, author Red Moon and The Optimised Woman.

Katharine Krueger, creator of Occupy Menstruation and Journey of Young Women

Tree Sisters, Heidi Wyldewood, Anna McLoughlin, Anna Clapp, Deirdre Steele,
Amanda Krawczyk

And all the magazines that are currently considering it for review: SageWoman, Pagan Dawn, Green Parent, Holistic Parenting, Natural Parenting…

For My Teenage Daughter

When my daughter comes back from school and tells me everyone is calling her a drama queen because she stands up for her right to be treated with respect, I cringe and die a little inside.

When she slams her bedroom door and I go in to listen and comfort her and she tells me boys wonder how much she costs in bed, I cringe and die a little inside.

When she is angry at the injustice of being a woman even in this day and age because she feels she isn’t valued as much as boys, I cringe and die a little inside.

When she is told to calm down, sit pretty, be quiet, behave because she’s a girl, I cringe and die a little inside.

BUT when my beautiful daughter stands up to the ones who bring her down because of jealousy and hate and she is able to keep going and keep reaching higher and higher, I smile and I shine from the inside.

And when my shy daughter asks me for her own Menarche Ceremony in order to bless and acknowledge her becoming a woman, I smile and I shine from the inside.

And when my strong daughter shows amazing empathy for causes that are dear to her heart and she isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes in, I smile and I shine from the inside.

And when my proud daughter dresses as she likes and wears what she wants and isn’t influenced by others and refuses to conform, I laugh with glee and tell her she can, most definitely, without a doubt, do what SHE wants!

How I wish I could take away the pain of growing up, the occasional anguish of being a girl. How I wish I could carry you far, far away from the negative experiences of growing up. I sometimes dream of a meadow, of us laying in the flowers and the scented swaying grasses, just you and I, safe, sheltered, protected from the harshness of this life. I cannot do such things, and so I rest in the comfort that I, my dear daughter, I have taught you well.

This life will bring you immense joy, and yes, sometimes immense pain, but I know that you can and will remember. Remember to look within, remember to search deep down for your truth, remember, dear daughter, that you come from a long long line of women, and we call you One of Us. You, my dear one, are WOMAN, and you are precious beyond words.”

10682113_10154618189730096_2124383018_nGenevieve Losier is a stay at home mama of three who has also been working closely with women and girls in the last 10 years, having successfully built her brand of organic designer cloth pads and advocating the whys of choosing cloth for both their babies and themselves.  She also is extremely passionate about herbalism, connecting to women through the Red Tent, and advocating women’s rights.  Her own connection to our beautiful earth and the nature that surrounds her pushes her forward with intent.  Genevieve is building her knowledge of healing herbs and is excited about offering wild harvested and healing products to others so they too can make a conscious choice on what they put on and in their bodies.  Her goal is to promote and help heal women as well as our Mother Earth with healing medicines, and supporting other women in their quest for a better Earth.  You can find her at;

www.facebook.com/theclothcanoe

theclothcanoe@gmail.com

 

Sorry: Sugar Coated Non-Consent

I wrote before over on my personal blog, Dreaming Aloud about how saying sorry was epidemic for women… and was a major feminist issue.

There’s a big buzz about a new Pantene ad in the US which calls attention to how the apology is too often used by women as a crutch and a way to downplay their power. Time magazine and Forbes are writing about it. And it does seem to be a trait which defines women, rather than men.

And I’m not just talking about sorry when you bump into someone. But sorry if they bump into you and spill your drink down you.

It’s madness. A cultural epidemic amongst women. And we do it unconsciously all the time.

“Women know they have to be likable to get ahead. Apologizing is one way to make yourself more accessible and less threatening,” says Rachel Simmons, author of The Curse of the Good Girl. “Apologizing is one way of being deemed more likable.”  Sorry is simply another way of downplaying our power, of softening what we do, to seem nice.

(Read the full article here.)

The Happy Womb

Reading another woman’s take on why she’s giving up saying sorry (for things that she’s not actually sorry for), I suddenly saw the root of it.

I had previously thought it was sorry I take up space.

But actually it goes deeper – it’s sorry… but no.

It’s all about consent.

And mama do we know what a can of worms THAT is for women.

Women… for a very long time have not been allowed to, not safe to, say no.

Our consent has not been our own to give.

And so we have found ways to get around it. To soften it. Sweeten it.

Sorry is the sugar that helps the medicine of consent go down.

Sorry, but no.

Because no by itself is just too dangerous, too inflammatory, to much of a sign of a woman in her power who needs to be taken down a peg or two. Or shown who’s boss.

So next time you say yes… when you mean no.

Next time you say sorry. When you mean no.

How about just say no?

The Red Tent has a history, but what is it?

Women often ask these questions when they discover red tents.

  • Was there a Red Tent in history?
  • Why do women need Red Tents?
  • There’s a Red Tent movement, where?
  • How am I a part of it?

Learn the surprising history of the Red tent. A new eBook & Audiobook titled “The Red Tent Movement: A Historical Perspective” by Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, PhD and ALisa Starkweather.

ebook-cover(new-subtitle)

An excerpt from the eBook:

There are thousands of women across the globe who are bringing forth their gifts as Red Tent leaders in their communities. Women who are standing in their power are essential to shifting present paradigms; these pioneers are a balm to an ailing world. But after years of oppression, how do women rise up out of trauma to remember the beauty that lives at one’s core? How do we strip away that which prevents us from rising as wise female leaders? This reclamation work is what many are a part of because when we find our voices, our inspired action, and our needed vision then we stand a better chance at creating a world we can thrive in. And it is with this spirit that the Red Tent movement has flourished as a global phenomenon.

Most women have heard of the Red Tent because they read the book. The Red Tent was novel by Anita Diamant, published in 1997 that gave us a story of women who come together in a menstrual hut, known as the Red Tent. In the story, Diamant retells the biblical rape story of Dinah. “The Rape of Dinah” (Genesis, chapter 34) was recounted not by Dinah, but by her brothers. Diamant provided a fictional feminist retelling of the tale, giving Dinah her own voice. The book is presented through Dinah’s eyes and those of the women around her. The story showed us how the women raised young daughters who were taught the secrets held for women by women through initiation, stories, and relationships. For many, the story resonated deeply and caused us to question if there was a place like this in our society.

The Red Tent novel originally did not have a great impact on women’s lives. This began to change when the author herself initiated a word-of-mouth campaign by giving copies away to Rabbis, female Christian leaders, and independent booksellers. This approach proved successful, and by 2002 The Red Tent had become a New York Times bestseller and a publishing phenomenon. The book has since been published in twenty-five countries and translated into twenty languages.

Following the success of the book, Diamant’s number one question from her readers was whether or not the Red Tent ever existed. Here is her quoted response from her website:

It’s important to note that I have never claimed that the women of the Bible actually used a menstrual hut; there is no historical evidence to support such a claim. However, since there have been menstrual tents and huts throughout the pre-modern world, it seemed historically plausible to give them one. The importance of the tent developed in the process of writing, but the idea of making it a place of community, rest, and celebration predates [the book]. Some years prior to starting the book, I heard a lecture by a Jewish writer…who suggested rethinking a biblical law that required separation of a woman from the community for 60 days after the birth of a girl compared to 30 days after the birth of a boy…. This could be seen as a reflection of the notion that girl babies made mothers more “unclean” than boys. The lecturer asked us to consider a different theory, which was far more interesting to me. Perhaps, he said, this was an acknowledgment that giving birth to a birth-giver was a more sacred, a more powerful experience. The extra month could be seen not as a punishment, but as a reward.[i]

Menstrual hut and moon lodge traditions show us that the Red Tent has a history: The idea of a separate women’s space or menstrual hut is not a new idea. Anita Diamant claims that the Red Tent in her book was fictionalized, but is rooted in research from Africa. Menstrual hut and moon lodge traditions shape women’s understanding of the Red Tent as a women’s power space. There are menstrual hut and moon lodge traditions all over the world that date back to 800 C.E and in some places are still practiced today. These spaces offer a unique view of the Red Tent, but do they reinforce or contradict patriarchal oppression?

To READ MORE or for an audio sample of this excerpt or to purchase the eBook/audiobook visit: http://www.redtentmovie.com/audio-book.html

 Guest post by Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, PhD and ALisa Starkweather

About the Authors:

Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, PhD is trained as a both a filmmaker, a textile historian, and a feminist folklorist. She holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Masters and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She wants to create world where women believe they can accomplish anything and where they have the courage to change the world. She creates multi-media (films, videos, websites, and other designs) to inspire YOU and improve your life! She believes in creating a world that promotes cooperation rather than competition and believes in the value of sisterhood and women’s community. She has a deep love of textile traditions, which is why she has made 13 documentary films about women & fabric. Her award-winning, internationally known red tent movie “Things We Don’t Talk About,” has been keeping her very busy doing hundreds and hundreds of screenings & facilitating life-changing women’s events. www.redtentmovie.com

ALisa Starkweather is the founder of the Red Tent Temple Movement, Daughters of the Earth Gatherings, Women in Power initiations, Priestess Path women’s mystery school, the online Fierce Feminine Life series, and the Women’s Belly and Womb Conference. ALisa is also in the award winning anthology, Women, Spirituality and Transformative Leadership; Where Grace Meets Power. She has been facilitating women’s empowerment for three decades of her life. www.alisastarkweather.com

This article may not be re-published without permission from the authors. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

[i] Diamant, Anita. Website. Accessed Sunday November 1, 2009.

http://anitadiamant.com/?page_id=320