This is the thought that struck me between the eyes.
I had just done a book reading of my #1 Amazon Best Selling book, The Rainbow Way… to an audience of one.
I had just led a red tent circle with 14 women… most of whom had travelled 40 minutes or more to be there.
I am about to lead a workshop… a free women’s workshop… and am aware that numbers may well be small.
Where are all the women? If this truly is women’s work… then why are they at One Direction in their tens of thousands… and not here? Why are they reading 50 Shades… and not Moon Time?
Why aren’t women interested in women’s work… if it’s about women… and if there is no price barrier? Why is if off-putting? Why are creative mothers not interested in learning more about how to support their creative selves? Why women aren’t interested in learning more about how their bodies work if they are struggling with fertility or PMS? Why women don’t feel a need for women’s space? Why many women would rather run a mile than engage in stuff which could directly benefit and support them…
I often apologise to people that my work is niche…
But how can something which is accessible to 50% of the population be “niche”?
But it is. It truly is.
I know that most of the women I know personally, who I meet in the course of our daily lives have zero interest in what I do. They would not come along to a red tent, or read a book on womancraft, even if they were paid.
Partly because of preconceptions about what might be said or done at such a thing. But mainly because they do not feel a need.
My mind boggles at this… how can women NOT feel a need to find a way to live at ease in their bodies, in our patriarchal culture? Are they not chaffed by it every day? Are they not shut down by it in all the ways I was, and am, and do they not long for a little space to breathe freely, to speak freely? A few ideas which, like oxygen, can keep them alive, which speak to how they see and feel the world?
And that confuses me hugely. For if my work is not attractive to the women in my local area, if it is not desirable… but rather avoidable, awkward, embarrassing… then surely it is not women’s work… if women don’t want to do it…
For every woman who finds it and cries tears of relief for finding a space which feels like home. For finding words which speak to her soul and shift her life. There are hundreds of others left cold by it.
I feel an edge-walker in my community. I realise there are women in the world who would walk over hot coals to work with me, who eagerly await my next book. But here I am a weird anomally. My work almost incomprehensible. What is it? Why would we want to do that?
Two clues for me emerged: one at church over the weekend. I was there for the funeral of a much-loved woman in our community. The church was standing room only, the crowds spilling out into the sunshine, to pay their respects to this beautiful loving soul. But instead of focusing on her tremendous hearts and gifts, the priest, one of 5 there officiating, spent 20 minutes telling us about the male god and how he created the world, and how the son of god saves us from it, and how it was humans who brought suffering into the world, how we were unworthy sinners… my bile rose. I bit my tongue. it has been a long time since I was in a church. But most of my community would go every week. And if you listened to this every week, as well as mascerating in our culture of male agendas, you have to have some way of justifying it, of squaring it and making it bearable… as to why your gender, and therefore you, were irrelevant, second-class… and have been for centuries.
The second clue is dropped by Sue Monk Kidd in her superb book on feminine spiritual awakening which I am reading for a second time:
“Like the Sandman from the nursery story, who stole into children’s rooms and put them to sleep by sprinkling sleep dust over them, our culture, even the culture of our faith, has helped anesthetize the feminine spirit.
“I like the way that Clarissa Pinkola Estes puts it:
“When a woman is exhorted to be compliant, cooperative and quiet, to not make upset or go against the old guard, she is pressed into living a most unnatural life – a life that is self-binding… without innovation. The world-wide issue for women is that under such conditions they are not only silence, but put to sleep. Their concerns, their viewpoints, their own truths are vapourised.”
Women don’t see the need for this work, don’t feel the need for it… because they don’t see or feel that there’s anything particular wrong…in their lives, or their culture.
But there comes a time, when a woman feels herself chaffed too hard. When she finds herself going mad in the ordinary world. When traumatised by a birth, depressed post partum, angry at having no support whilst working and caring for a home and family, navigating menopause and she finds herself alone, abandoned and uncared for by the culture to which she had given her allegiance in return for her silence… in that moment she feels her longing rise, a longing for a culture which supports her, in which she does not have to hide her full self, or apologize for herself. Which can help her to navigate this inner world to which she has been numb her whole life.
Then, and only then, she will run towards womancraft like a thirsty woman towards a desert oasis. So grateful that it is there.
And I am there, for that moment. Waiting quietly in the dark… calling you home. An anomally, a holding space. With no agenda but to hold and hear you, and offer you a bag of tools.
I was deeply touched and honoured that this post was UBER popular amongst women workers around the world. For a compilation of their wise and insightful responses see this post, as well as the comments below and on the Facebook page.