A Modern Woman's Guide to Rekindling Her Radiance, Life Force & Power
In the book club I'm in, our current read is one that I believe most people, especially women, would feel too much shame to pick up in a store or be seen reading on their commute. It’s called Pussy: A Reclamation by Regena Thomashauer.
The cover of the book is simple and pretty, with pops of hot pink and the all-caps word “PUSSY” in a reflective gold. If this word and the thought of reading a book named after it makes you squirm, it’s all the more reason you need to read it. And you better get comfortable with “pussy” quickly, because there’s no shortage of similar language throughout the book. Before I scare you away though, let me explain what the book is all about and has to offer you...
First of all, if you’re wondering, in this case the word is not referring to the belittling insult toward a man (or sometimes woman) who shows fear or hesitation. It’s also not referring to the word so indelicately thrown around in porn, or to your pet cat. It’s referring to a woman’s source of power and radiance, being her down-there region, but not just in a physical sense — in a spiritual and emotional sense as well. The title of the book itself is Thomashauer’s way of reclaiming the word “pussy” and its deeper, more sensual, and empowering meaning.
Why the word “pussy” specifically?
Thomashauer explains that other words often used in its place didn’t feel like a good fit for her. “Vagina,” for example, refers only to the actual canal part of a woman’s genitals. Pussy doesn’t have to be the word that resonates with you, but keep your mind open to it while you read the book and then decide later.
What makes Regena Thomashauer an expert on pussy?
Teacher, best-selling author, founder and CEO of the School of Womanly Arts (founded in 1998), Regena Thomashauer, or "Mama Gena" as she often refers to herself, explains that “We are living in a culture that shames our bodies, rebukes our emotionality, fears our sexuality, violates our safety, and makes us wrong for having feminine aspects, for being women at all.” And so she has dedicated her work to women, in her classroom at the School of Womanly Arts and in her books.
Thomashauer “believes that women are the greatest untapped natural resource on the planet, and she teaches them to turn on their innate feminine power to create a life they love.” Sounds pretty great, right? And it should be noted that this book isn’t only for the benefit of women, but for men and humankind as a whole, whether it be from reading the book firsthand or experiencing it through a radiant woman who has just read it.
The movement from feminine to masculine
What is especially eye-opening in this book is the not-so-pretty but accurate picture that Thomashauer illustrates of humankind’s movement toward extreme violence, inequality and injustice — which uncoincidentally parallels humankind’s movement away from seeing women as the true source of life, light and power for which they once were recognized.
Thomashauer recalls studying Greek and Roman mythology and the ancient goddess traditions and indigenous cultures, when she “learned that in these early religions, it was the Great Mother — rather than just the Heavenly Father — who was worshipped. That throughout prehistoric and early historic periods of human development, entire religions existed in which people revered their supreme creator as female.” There’s no denying that things have since changed. At the time the book was written, less than 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs and only 22 of 197 heads of state in the world were women. These are just two examples, of the many in existence, of women being misrepresented and silent.
Pussy: A Reclamation is a quick and dirty (see what I did there?) manual of sorts — with the purpose of inspiring women to reconnect to their source of power and radiance and see themselves as the goddesses that they (we) are, complete with homework assignments and personal anecdotes!
Thomashauer explains that a woman who is not connected to her source of power is like a lamp that’s turned off. She lacks her radiance, purpose and joie de vivre, and in denying this from herself and others, she gives in to what Thomashauer defines as the Patriarchal World Culture (PWC). In other words, a culture dominated by the masculine.
Through a long history of abuse, harassment, silencing and mistreatment, most women now inherently believe that men are not on their side and are not to be trusted. I can’t speak on behalf of every woman I know, but I personally don’t feel safe walking alone late at night, leaving my drink unattended at a bar or being the only woman in a room full of men that I don’t already know and trust. When I think of the possible dangers I could experience out and about in my everyday life (such as being physically harmed, taken advantage of, kidnapped or worse), women never come to mind. I very, very rarely fear another woman.
Speaking to gender inequality, Thomashauer points out that women’s haircuts and dry cleaning are more expensive than men’s, and yet women are paid only 79 cents for each dollar that a man earns. It’s no wonder most women are walking around like angry, burnt out light bulbs!
So then how does a woman turn her light back on?
The key is in the question itself: first of all you have to understand that it’s up to you to turn yourself on. This responsibility can’t be put on a partner, or you’ll just end up being disappointed — not because they are incapable but because only you truly know what turns you on and it’s up to you to educate your partner and anyone else on what you like and need. And we're not just talking about sexual turn-on, but all aspects of life. It’s up to you to pamper yourself, take up hobbies that light you up and surround yourself with other women and men who inspire you.
What I’ve gained from this book
I’m currently on chapter eight of nine in this book, and WOW, I’m having trouble putting it down!
I’ve noticed since I started reading it that I notice myself more — not in the way I usually do, which is noticing things that I don’t like about myself, things that I feel could be improved. Instead I’m catching myself in certain lighting or at a certain angle and thinking “hey, I’ve never noticed how beautiful that feature is.” I’ve also been noticing more the beauty in other women, including women who are total strangers that I pass on the street. I notice their confidence, their features, and the mystery they often have about them.
I’ve experienced more compassion toward other women when they’re frustrated or sad, because I get it.
And in my romantic relationship I’ve noticed having more patience and understanding because I now get the pressure I’ve put on him to make me happy, rather than making myself happy first and for his contribution to be the cherry on top. Thomashauer explains that for the most part, men are thrilled to see us be radiant and want to make us happy, yet are frustrated in not knowing how because we don’t tell them what we like. That’s something I’m determined to change.
My suggestion to you is that even if as a woman you feel pretty darn connected to your life force right now and the word “pussy” doesn’t make you squirm, read the book anyway. Do the homework, share it and discuss it with other women in your life. Reconnect to your radiance in a way that you never have before. After all, a pussy never hurt anybody!