One Day With Mama Gena and Her School of Womanly Arts

You Are Perfect

The quote above was the first note I took from this past weekend's escapade into the world of Mama Gena and her School of Womanly Arts.  I had been invited by a friend who described the Mastery program to be a life affirming and life changing experience. At first glance it sounded a bit like a man bashing vagina party.  Women in bright pink boas greeted me through the door while Madonna and Katy Perry blasted over the speakers. Nevertheless my skepticism and I found a seat next to three lovely young women inside the womb of the Javitz Center for 8 full hours of women's empowerment. 

All kitch aside, I realized right away that the presence that is Mama Gena is anything but. From the moment the day began I knew this event was one of substance. Mama Gena had done it.  She tapped into the desperate need for women to have a safe place to be validated, feel connected and heard. As she worked the audience making connections with woman after woman, Mama Gena allowed everyone a chance to share a story of pain, self doubt and insignificance. She also encouraged a dialogue about women's desires and strengths. It was a good reminder to me that sometimes validation is all it takes to remember that we are perfect just the way we are. 

Words Have Power

One of the first questions Mama Gena asked the audience was what our caregivers had encouraged us to call our female genitals. To my surprise, most women were encouraged to either call it a childish name like "hooha" or to simply not give it a name. Mama Gena then took this opportunity to explain that unlike our male counterparts, we are not encouraged to respect and admire our genitals.  In fact, it is quite the opposite. By not giving them a respectful or honorable name, we are systemically taught to disregard the anatomy that makes us uniquely woman. 

This was pretty mind blowing.  I am a full believer in the power of words to change our lives.  The fact that as a culture we have no respectful way to refer to womanhood is completely absurd. It was also a reminder that ALL words have power.  Possibly it's time to redefine how we speak about the development of young girls?

I also couldn't help but notice that almost every woman that stood up to share or participate apologized for her existence. "I apologize for my accent." "I apologize for saying this..." When we apologize we immediately enter into a deferential relationship with whomever we are speaking.  I felt overwhelming sadness for everyone's need to lower themselves, even in front of a group that was brought together to support each other. 

Reconnect With Desire

There were so many wonderful elements to the day. We covered a history of the female archetype in religion, we connected to each other through community building exercises, we danced, but we also kept coming back to the need to (as Louise Hay says) love and accept ourselves fully.  Mama Gena explained that our femaleness has over 8000 nerve endings dedicated to the ability to feel pleasure. I was reminded that there is nothing more loving to do for ourselves as women as to connect back to the ability to have a desire and then feel pleasure around that thing.  The most obvious example, the orgasm, is only the beginning of a woman's relationship with desire.  All day we were encouraged to tap back into the things that filled us with joy in our daily lives form connecting with loved ones to re engaging in all the things we love to do. What have you done today to cultivate desire? 

Take Action

Overall I really loved the time spent with Mama Gena and her staff.  Mama Gena meets a need in the world today like no one else I have ever met.  It was very clear that I personally needed to take more action in my own life to tap back into pleasure, to encourage others to do the same. Professionally I also felt called to focus on the prevention of abuse toward women and girls. After working in corrections for 5 years, I really wanted to search for resources that supported boys in making better decisions when it came to interactions with girls.  The following day, Mama Gena's dear friend, Marie Forleo posted a link to a charity which was exactly what I was looking for.  If you are looking for an incredible cause to get on board with to help reduce violence in young girls and boys, check out No Mens No Worldwide.  This organization has seen a 51% decrease in rape in populations which have completed the dual gender training program. 

Additionally, if you or a loved one need support for sexual violence, please contact: 

National Sexual Assault Hotline

Provides support and information to sexual assault survivors as well as supporters and allies seeking resources and information.

Call 1-800-656-4673

Available 24 hours everyday