I read part 9 of Milton's Paradise Lost last night.
Can't say it was part of my plan for a relaxing evening, though actually, once I got into the swing of the olde English, I really enjoyed it.
For those unfamiliar with it, it's a 17th century epic poem about the "fall" of Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden and the resulting fall of mankind.
Which, in Milton's eyes at least, was all Eve's fault.
Her desire for independence and knowledge, as much as her weakness in succumbing to Satan's snakey temptation, catalysed the sinful spiral of doom that heralded the "loss" of Paradise.
Disobedience to God and the deflowering of Eve, was equated with the loss of human innocence, purity and virtue.
Her sensual pleasure portrayed as a damming degradation, that catapulted her and Adam from heaven, rather than to it.
If only she hadn't wanted a bite of that tasty looking apple from the tree of knowledge!
If only that sycophantic serpent hadn't whispered such seductive promises in her ear.
But hey, she just couldn't help herself, and so that delicious fruit, once digested, led her to lead Adam astray, sparking their lust, awareness of good and evil and the arising of guilt and shame.
For which all the men (God, Adam, Milton) decided Eve was to blame.
And there we have it.
These ancient biblical themes of female inferiority, uncontrollable desire and culpability.
Their 17th century rendition, at a time when the witch trials were in full force.
The polarisation of pleasure and paradise.
The privileging of above over below.
The shaming of the body.
The demonisation of desire and woman.
The very same themes I still work with today - in pretty much every setting.
As women are still living with the internalised stigma of such beliefs, as well as the external experience of their influence.
On the inner plane, all that shame, guilt and self-loathing either inhibits sexual enjoyment or manipulatively exaggerates it.
On the outer, women are still getting raped.
Which is where Deputy Police Constable Maggie Blyth comes in.
I listened to her talk this morning.
She's been appointed to address sexual violence against women and girls, which is on the rise and uncomfortably present in the very police-force she represents.
Sadly, they didn't get to discuss the root causes of this phenomenon. As usual, it was more about stamping out incidents, rather than effecting ground-up change.
Which, if you ask me, has to start with a radical clearing from the self of those divisive, dualistic, biblical notions that:
sex = sin body = shame desire = naughty woman = less than my actions = your fault God = an angry man in heaven (LOL!)
Because it's the embodiment of such beliefs, that, imho, make sexual violence possible.
What is repressed, shamed or shunned expresses in distortion.
What isn't owned is projected.
It's the guilting and shaming, the good vs bad split that creates the sexual shadow in women and men.
And wouldn't you know it, that's what my work is all about !
Collapsing the separation.
Reversing the perverse inversions of reality inculcated by religion.
De-programming the patriarchy.
So that love-making is experienced as sacred ritual.
Pleasure is honoured as heavenly sacrament.
Purity is understood as presence.
Sensuality is celebrated as both wild and innocent.
Woman reclaims her power, sexually and spiritually.
And both man and woman are sovereign, integrated and whole. Loving and respecting one another in similarity and difference. Consciously melding dark and light.
Co-creating heaven on earth.
No woman on earth is either all virgin or whore. It's a nonsense, life-denying double-bind. That enslaves, constrains and limits the vastness we are capable of.