the women issue

 
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For the past eight years I’ve been the senior editor of Common Ground magazine. I don’t talk about this aspect of my work much, but it’s a big part of my life. As someone who loves learning about every subject under the sun, this job has been a gift. I’ve met tons of amazing people along the way and grown so much as an editor, writer, and human being. 

Every October we publish a Women’s issue, which I gratefully take the the lead on. In light of recent events and everything that’s been going on in the world, this year’s issue was particularly meaningful to create. It’s no mystery that these are intense times. There’s so much injustice in the world and it keeps emerging from the shadows for us to see. Although this process is painful, it’s also essential in order to bring more awareness and healing to the issues. With that in mind, I tried to compile articles from diverse voices and perspectives, and I wanted to share a few highlights with you here because the content is so relevant right now.

My editorial search began when I unexpectedly came across a professor from Evergreen College named Frances Rains. Frances teaches several interesting courses, including one on Native American women and how underrepresented they’ve been throughout history. I was so intrigued by her work and she was happy to share, so we started a potent conversation that resulted in her thought-provoking piece called “Murmurs in the Wind: Native American Women and the Struggle for Representation”. This is a subject that doesn’t get much attention, but it’s an important one. 

Shortly after, I discovered an inspiring pictorial called: “Black Feminist Joy.” This photo essay was created by Maneo Mohale from Johannesburg, South Africa, and Neo Baepi, a photographer from Capetown. Together, they interviewed a group of women engaged in struggles against racism, sexism, and transphobia about the subject of joy. I was so moved to hear about this because the premise of the essay is that joy itself is an act of resistance - an incredibly powerful perspective. Maneo says this in her introduction: “In a world increasingly marked by deeply racist narratives that prescribe Black bodies and bodies of color as visible and legible only through the lenses of oppression, violence, and death, the insistence on, pursuit of, and desire for joy becomes an act of vital resistance.” I highly recommend checking this out. 

Another author whose work I really enjoyed learning about is Betsy Prioleau. Her article, “The Seductress Revisited”, explores how the archetype of the seductress is an empowering model for women today. Betsy’s view is that seductresses have long been misunderstood and discarded in women's quest for full entitlement, so it’s an intriguing and relevant subject. She says, “Women now are in a historic romantic slump, hostage to male mating mores, beauty/porn propaganda, cultural bogeys, and false ideas of female sexual power. Here’s where the seductress comes in—one of the most potent female personas in existence…. Real seductresses explode all the stereotypes.” Betsy’s research is fascinating, and her work honors and celebrates the seductress as a feminist heroine. 

Jenny Pacanowski, an Iraq war veteran, also contributed a heartfelt piece about how the unconditional love of the feminine has helped her heal years of trauma from her time in the military. I know Jenny personally and she’s a brilliant poet and public speaker who is working to bridge the veteran-civilian divide. 

Rob and I also had the honor to interview Alicia Garza. Alicia is one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement and I was hoping we might share her voice in the issue. Much to my excitement, it worked out! Alicia is a very articulate speaker and a fiercely committed activist-organizer who believes all people should have the chance to live dignified lives in the true spirit of democracy. I was particularly interested in talking to her because Common Ground is geared towards the “yoga community”, which tends to be predominantly white and privileged. As a kirtan singer, this has been a concern of mine, as I’d like to see contemplative spaces be more inclusive and diverse. When we asked Alicia about how the yoga community might reach across the aisle, she gave a poignant reply: “I don’t recommend that the yoga community reach across the aisle. I recommend that the yoga community eliminate the aisle.” Powerful words from a powerful woman. 

The issue also features lots of other insightful pieces on subjects as diverse as “The Vagina Revolution”, simplicity, liberating the witch within, healthy boundaries, and awakening the new feminine frequency.

It goes without saying that women and those who identify as female deserve equal rights and equal pay, full authority over our bodies, proper education, healthcare, an end to domestic violence, sex trafficking, exploitation, and abuse, and every opportunity to soar beyond the glass ceiling into the wide open, womanly sky. We need to trust in our innate power and stand hand in hand with men to bring about a real change in society. 

I also think that, as women, we need to end the petty jealousies, backstabbing, comparisons, and competition that create separation between us. Women can be so cruel to each other, but our unity is required to transform old patriarchal paradigms. We need to support each other to bring all of our fullness and beauty to the table. Every woman’s voice, feelings, ferocity, tenderness, liberation, erotic power, and deep love is magnificent and essential. We don’t need to act small to make other people comfortable. We need to know our worth and stop waiting for the world to validate it. 

Feminine qualities and leadership are more important than ever right now. As my teacher Amma says, the exile of the feminine principle from the world has affected everyone—women and men alike. But by cultivating more love and compassion—what Amma calls “universal motherhood”—we can help to restore harmony on this earth. May the wisdom of these writers and everyone working for peace help to awaken us all. 

Read more at CommonGroundMag.com. ♥