Is it just me or do you watch tv with a metaphorical pen and pad in hand looking out for healthy depiction of sex, our bodies and all the fluids that spring from them. But then there’s the eye roll. Here we go they’re having sex and not even a quick fumble for a condom – how are women supposed to insist on contraception when films never show it! It might just be that you’re shouting at the screen too.
Maybe like me you’re incensed by the blue liquid in a period product. Maybe like me you feel the fury at the heteronormative depiction of sexy times ending when the man finishes. But we know, we know who we are and what we like.
Do you like to talk about sex? Do you want to talk about your body? Do you want to listen to real stories, real feelings, real women? Thank goodness we have Red Tents to do just this. Let’s share our shame, our disappointment, our rage and break through to the real raw stuff that is fizzing and bubbling below.
Let’s celebrate those women among you who are putting the conversation out there. Who are having the difficult conversations, challenging others and shining a vision of where we need to be and how to get there. We are right alongside you Colette Nolan, Laura Dodsworth and Betty Dodson.
And you too sex shops run by women, sexual health practitioners that talk about pleasure, female porn film directors, and all of you having brave and confident conversations with your friends, family and children about sex.
We hear this month from a Red Tent woman, Fran, who has crafted a comedy show about the beauty, the embarrassment and the healthy boundaries of our bodies when it comes to sharing it all. We have some news about our groups on Facebook to share.
Sitting In Circle with Fran
I’d never felt at home in all-female spaces. When I was younger they felt hostile, competitive, the word ‘bitchy’ thrown around like aggressive netball passes. Ambitious women were brought down to earth: How dare they excel? How dare they not care what anyone thought? How dare their hair be so frizz-free?
Being a woman felt an uncomfortable skin. I couldn’t bring myself to use the words ‘vagina’, ‘period’, ‘tampon’, things that I saw as the vocabulary of being female. I pushed those things to the bottom of myself. Be loud, but not too loud. Be visible, but don’t take up too much space.
It’s only in my 30’s that I have found community in all female spaces like Red Tents. I admit I mostly cry for the duration of the time I’m there, but it’s a space I can safely take down the mask and momentarily lay down things I’m carrying. It’s a place I allow myself to be seen as weak and from that find strength. It’s a moment for myself, amid days of making sure everyone else is ok.
For the last year I’ve written about and performed my award-winning show Ad Libido, which explores my own experience of pain during sex and difficulty achieving orgasm. My body for so long had seemed like my enemy, not doing the thing that should come so naturally. I’m bringing the show to Soho Theatre 7-11 May and it is now time to fall in love with everything my body can do.
My relationship with being womanly is complicated and we are so often encouraged not to speak proudly and loudly of our achievements. In rebellion of this I will tell you I’ve created an incredible show. It’s hilarious, moving, important, vulnerable, powerful, female and universal.
New Book – My Broken Vagina
Since this blog was written Fran has published her debut book, ‘My Broken Vagina,’ chronicling the quest to fix her sex life, long plagued by painful sex. Using her 16-year-old self’s diary, expert advice, and interviews with others about their sex lives, ‘My Broken Vagina’ seeks to help others feel more connected to and less gaslit by their own vaginas. You can pre-order the book on Amazon or at Waterstones.
News about our Facebook group
Following our recent survey on the Red Tent Movement (UK & the rest of Europe) Facebook group there are a few changes we’d like to share with you.
Firstly, the group’s privacy settings have been changed from ‘Public’ to ‘Closed’.
This is to enable people who don’t feel comfortable engaging in a public group where what they post can be seen by anyone to join the conversation, knowing their words will remain within this specific group. Join here – Facebook group
Secondly, post approval has been turned off, meaning your posts will appear within the group as soon as you submit them. We will continue to monitor them inline with our posting guidelines which you can read here. www.facebook.com/groups/RedTentMovementUK/about/
Finally, we will be opening a new Facebook group intended as a hub of support, resources and ideas for current Red Tent organisers or those who are interested in starting their own Red Tent. Details of this new group will be shared as soon as it is set up in the coming weeks. We are looking for two women who have pages or groups for your Red Tents to help nurture this group. Contact us if you want to find out more.