Women and Desire: Biting into the Proverbial Apple.
We must admit that we have a funny relationship with Desire, you and I, ladies. First of all… Adam and Eve.
Whether or not we subscribe to a religion that honors Genesis in the Bible as our true literal origin or not, we can hardly escape the Western world unscathed by this creation myth. To recap, in it, God creates Adam as the first man and places him in the Garden of Eden, with the instructions that he can eat anything from any tree except from the tree of knowledge, which is prohibited.
Eve is fashioned by God from Adam’s rib (or side, according to the version) as a companion for Adam; a serpent then tricks Eve into eating fruit from the forbidden tree and she gives some of the fruit to Adam.
Consequently, God curses the serpent, the ground, and tells Adam and Eve that there will be consequences for their sin (remind you of Mom and Dad?) for their disobedience, and banishes them from the Garden of Eden forever.
This creation myth has historically been used to hold women responsible for the fall of humanity, as the original sinners, and even to justify the persecution of witches and witchcraft.
Consideration #2 in this funny relationship we have with Desire, women: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I don’t know about you, but I was required to read this novel in high school. This 1850’s classic is set in the 1640’s in puritan Massachusetts, where Hester Prynne is punished for conceiving a daughter in an affair by having to wear a scarlet A (for Adulteress) for the rest of her days.
The man whom she commits adultery with, however, is kept secret and… (spoiler alert)…
… it is only toward the end of the book publicly revealed that it is the minister, whom in sickness and guilt, outs himself upon dying.
Without going too much in depth, these two considerations seem likely enough to formulate a strong suggestion that, as women, we need to be careful with our desires. We cannot entirely trust them.
Our desires can be dangerous (I mean, they only led to the expulsion of Adam and Eve, and consequently of all of humanity, from Paradise! Sheesh! And, it led Hester Prynne to lead a life of shame, guilt, isolation, secrecy, and to be cast out from her society).
Now, I invite you to take a moment, close your eyes if it’s comfy, take a breath, and just stop. Reflect how many times you may have heard one of these stories — the story of Adam and Eve or The Scarlet Letter — or a similar version. Or seen paintings like the ones above. Now, how many of those times that you heard it did you think it was before your 20’s (while your young brain was still forming)?
Now think about just how our subconscious is so, so powerful, and we have been shown by Carl Jung, Swiss psychotherapist and founder of analytical psychology, and others, that its contents and its patterns, or complexes, can shape our reality when we remain unconscious or unaware of them.
This unconscious, which is made up substantially by the collective ideas, is extremely powerful and can run our lives when we remain unaware of it and the patterns, beliefs, and ideas it holds. Now, it becomes easy to realize just how conditioned we are — especially as girls and women — to second-guess or mistrust our desires, to be suspicious and careful with them.
Currently we live in a time in which we commonly receive an almost opposite message, that is: “Follow your bliss,” as Joseph Campbell, American mythologist and author, said. We live in a climate where women are told they can do anything. Yet, let’s really step back and take a good look at the whole of the picture here: we are told this, and yet we still have anti-abortion debates?
That is to say, if a woman follows her desire (without getting into judgment here about whether or not this truly was her desire or just a reaction to something else) and gets into bed with a man, who just the same follows his desire into bed, and she ends up knocked up, only she is questioned about her responsibility to the consequences.
The man is not held responsible for the consequences of his actions, for his desires, in any of these anti-abortion debates, while the woman, who really is in the same boat, is denied by anti-abortionists the right to decide what now, what next…
So, let me state the obvious here and reiterate that women are being given a very mixed message in our society about what they can and cannot be trusted with — including her own body — and then we feel upset because we either don’t have what we want or we don’t even know what we want. We could better say that we don’t trust ourselves to want what we want.
It is one of my biggest commitments and desires that women — all women — build a new, trustworthy, mutually beneficial, satisfying, and nurturing relationship with their own bodies and desires.
From my own experience with this process, when a woman allows herself to unfold, trust herself, and be led by her desires, she is going to have to build a strong inner core or center, and an intimate circle that sees and believes in her and her desires, even when she cannot.
She also needs courageous, fierce, strong, and compassionate guides and inspirations around her, like Eve Ensler, Marion Woodman, and others, women who are willing to lay themselves on the line for truth, the truth that their body told them, and not what somebody else told them.
Tanya Dantus is an expert at helping heart-centered women bust through inner barriers to make space for their full blossoming. She is the founder and facilitator of the Motherhood Empowerment Program, has an M.A. in Counseling Psychology and a B.A. in Anthropology. Tanya marries knowledge and intuition, as well as embodied wisdom and spirituality, embracing the power of ceremony and ritual. She possesses in-depth knowledge of Dreamwork, Theta Healing, Reiki, Metaphysics, Yoga, and Dance. Always extremely intuitive and fascinated by the world of symbols and depth, she’s committed to a path of deeply knowing and expressing herself for over 15 years. She has made guest appearances on the Radio, Television, Podcasts, Summits, and facilitated transformational work for hundreds of people all over USA, Mexico, Canada, and Germany. Currently living on the edge of the Black Forest with her husband and son, she empowers women to lead their most unleashed lives.