Friday Essay – Reflections on My Body

I am a woman.  I was born with a female body. I identify as female. I am basically straight.  I have a deep appreciation for goddess-centred spiritual practices and beliefs.  I consider myself a Third Wave Feminist.  I internalize all the contradictions, paradoxes and complications that come with fighting misogyny and systemic patriarchy while loving men and supporting them in their struggles to overcome the bullshit that both patriarchy and feminism have placed on their shoulders.  I am a mother with a grown daughter.  The experience of being a mother, especially the mother of a daughter, has been one of the most profound female experiences of my life. I have not been a stereotypical mother and as a child did not dream of being a mother.  Nevertheless, carrying a child in my body – feeling that creature move and grow, watching and feeling my body change irreversibly – delivering her to the world through my vagina and spending the following nineteen years doing my best to be her mother has been a profound and powerful feminine experience.

I am a burlesque performer – a performance artist whose subject is sex.  Burlesque is not simply concerned with the physical sex act, but all the power, gender, and other issues that sex engenders. I may explore many topics and issues – bend gender, explore the lines between sexy, sensual, dirty and weird, but sex is the heart of the art form.  I attended BurlyCon in Seattle this month.  I learned some great new techniques from fabulous seasoned performers.  But, the best workshops I attended were ‘Burlesque as Spiritual Practice’ and ‘Healing Your Relationship with Your Body’.  The discussions and work was profound.  I have done a lot of contemplating about both and I believe they were transformational for me.  My art and spirit came together during those workshops.  Two things struck me in particular – the connection between shamanism, entertainment, dance and archetypes; and the deep healing potential of burlesque as sex work.  I have a lot of learning to do with regard to the first issue, and I am really looking forward to starting that journey.  The second issue is something I have felt for a while, and now feel like I am building a vocabulary for expressing the healing power of burlesque.  In the first place burlesque has been the main source of healing my relationship with my body, my relationship with sex and my relationships with men.  I hope that, no matter what the surface story of my piece is, women in the audience will be uplifted when they see me enjoying my body.  My body that jiggles and bounces.  My body that is covered in stretchmarks.  My body that is sensual and graceful and strong and powerful and does not conform to some magazine editor’s definition of beauty.  I also hope that my spirit shines through my performance.  My spirit that is proud of the scars, both physical and emotional, proud of the stretchmarks, proud of all the wonderful and amazing things this body is capable of doing.

Alotta Boutte

The ever gorgeous Alotta Boutte! From whom I took two great workshops and learned a lot!