Page 2 of 9

Because we can’t do it on our own

That’s why I want to get together.

To see ourselves for ourselves. To be heard. To hear each other. To help each be heard.

When it comes to women’s bodies, not just how they look, but our bodylife experiences, there’s a lot more noise than information, conversation, or care. I want to fix that.

This we cannot do on our own.

That’s what the Art & Conversation Experiences are about. We’re just getting started.

If you are in NYC over Thanksgiving weekend, I hope to see you on Saturday at “Telling our own stories”. We’re getting together at Merge New York, a radically inclusive studio in Chinatown.

This experience is for, and about women. All kinds of women. Everyone who is biologically female and self-identifies as a woman. Come as you are. This is about us.

Here’s how I think we’ll do it

2:45pm — Doors open early. You can look around while I finish setting up.

3:00pm — Orientation, meeting each other, making the space our own, kicking off our story-telling cooperative.

3:30 pm — I’ll give a brief talk, we’ll view the vagina portraits, and continue on together, telling our own stories.

4:30 pm — Connecting it all, to our lives, to each other, to the evolution of the project.

It will depend on who shows up, when they arrive, what’s on our minds and in our hearts. This is a zone of safety and freedom. We’ll all be holding the space for each other. 

I’d love for you to be part of this.

It’s a two-hour program that will be a unique experience, both personally and collectively. I’ve been told that this work is brave, important, and the beginning of things changing for us…

Please register to attend, so I can expect you. If you will be arriving late or leaving early, that’s ok. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/tellingourownstories-11-30-2019

Feel free to invite the women in your life. If you’d like to attend and the ticket price is an obstacle, email me and I’ll send you a promo code. You can attend as my guest.

Looking forward to getting together with you soon!

In sisterhood, solidarity and with love,
—Alex

Image of a woman knitting outside in front of a brick wall unevenly painted over with red paint, and above her a painting, "Renata 19" by Hektad, of a woman's face, eyes closed. I think, peaceful.

Self-expression

Self-expression is one of my top three values. It’s taken me forever to identify them, my core values.

It’s one of those exercises that you do when taking a “designing your life” seminar or coaching session, to clarify what you really really want for yourself, and how to go about making it happen…or similarly, when you’re building out your business. It clarifies things for the people you hope to work with and serve. What is it that you’re about? What can we expect you to care about, prioritize, base your decisions on? Underneath it all, what matters to you?

For ages, I would end up with a value list too long to be useful. I want to do the right thing. Mostly, values are right-thing-feeling things, so I’d agree with one after the other after the other…

It just struck me that I actually DIG my rabbit holes…

I’m not really sure how it happened, but recently, I got to the bottom of all my lists. Knocked ‘em down to three.

Equity, self-expression and kindness. These are the things that I strive to bring into, and hope to find wherever I am.

Self-expression… Not just my own. Everyone’s. That’s where equity and kindness kick in.

What do you think? Can we do it?

Can we reframe reality so that it’s intentionally and effectively designed for everyone’s self-expression? I know it’s insanely complex and complicated…but the insanity is temporary. It comes from an expectation of sameness, of familiarity and generalized understanding necessarily being the truth (about others), that gets between us and living in the diversity that is inherent in being human.

The painting in the image above, “Renata 19”, is by Hektad.

Image of exhibition window, showing Straingers, a multi-media installation, by Cecile Chong.

Diversity is inherent in everyone

For me, when I think about diversity, it isn’t just about our affiliations, or group identities, demographics, the stuff that seems easy to know about someone, someone else, though, right?

Diversity is inherent in everything and everyone. Everything living that is. Especially people though, with our minds and memories, endlessly varied experiences, specific family lives, and capacity for learning and growth. In spite of what we may want to keep the same, and hold still in order to feel safer.

We are individuals.

We are individuals. That’s what diversity is about. We bring a universe of being that exists and is generated inside each of us to every encounter.

I am enlivened by the beauty of our inherent diversity, emerging from the inside out. I will definitely start shooting vagina portraits again soon.

Window credit: Straingers, by Cecile Chong, a multi-media installation on view at Main Window until Monday, Dec 16, 2019. It stopped me in my tracks as I passed. You can learn more about Straingers here.

Image of large columns, metal barricades and a security guard in the background, with the caption in the image: WHO SHOULD HAVE AUTHORITY OVER YOUR BODY?

Who should have authority over your body?

Who should have authority over your body?

Over what it looks like.

Over what you can do with it.

And where.

Over what can be done to it.

By whom and for what reason.

Over what services are available for its care, comfort, safety, self-expression and quality of life.

And what access to services looks like for you.

Whether availability and access are the same for everyone…

What else should we consider?

What do you think?

Who should have authority over our bodies?

Please post your thoughts in the comments. On these this topic, these questions. On anything that this brings up for you. Experiences. Feelings. Questions. Are all welcome here.

Share this post with a friend who would be interested in this conversation.

Tell me about an individual or organization having this conversation.

This conversation is for and about all of us…I’m working on ways to connect us.

And…if you’re in, or near, NYC on Nov 30th, there’s an event for women (self-identified) — a vagina vérité art-&-conversation experience where we will explore these questions, and many others that arise, in a zone of safety and freedom where we can have conversations we don’t usually get to have about our bodylife experiences. “Telling our own stories” takes place from 3-5pm at merge new york. For more info and tickets…

I would love to hear what you think. 

What matters to you.

What you need.

For yourself.

For the women and girls in your life.

Image of the Sharing circle at the vagina vérité art & conversation experience. Twelve of the women participating are visible here, listening smiling. Among them, the speaker is mainly out of view, but you can see her hands as she speaks and everyone turned toward her.

What will we talk about?

That was one of many questions that came up while working on the design of this experience and imagining into it: How will it go? Who’ll show up? And what will we talk about?

There was a lot to talk about.

I have to say I’d have been fine with silences. I mean, if that’s what happened, that’s what happened. There’s just no way to know and scripting it, going for a topics-list outcome, that wasn’t the point here. I just wanted to listen. To have the space to talk, to think out loud together. I don’t think we have enough of that. Not in group settings. Not with an expectation of respect. Not at work. At work is where so much of the day goes, too.

I think I’ve trained myself out of believing I have the space to talk things over, only saying raw things, still-thinking things when I couldn’t help it, and pulling back soon after. Not being ok with the silence that followed. Or the not getting it, not interested, not willing, not now because other things just have to get done. We already know what we need to know.

Besides, I’ve always been uncomfortable in a group. Easily overwhelmed by just there being many heartbeats working, and eyes, when they turn toward me. Performance anxiety, I guess. Definitely about getting it right. Even though I don’t believe in that.

Anyway, here, in this space, that was the point. To make room, free up space to say things aloud among us, and just see what was there. Intentionally hold space the space for each other. And ourselves.

At one point, we got into an inquiry into unsolicited dick pics. What are they thinking? What was the point of that? And demanding a pussy pick back. Having strategies, even if it sucks that we should need to, to address what gets thrown at us, or the internalized habits of apologizing for having a different view of things, of hiding what comes with having a female body, making ourselves smaller to fit someone else’s idea. I totally need that help. Strategies ready.

That moment after, when you realize that you caved vs stayed seated inside yourself, in your truth, sucks.

There was a lot of power in the room, compassion. We didn’t go around the room, telling each other about our backgrounds or anything, but you could tell that we weren’t coming from the same place. Or maybe I’ve sloughed off enough layers to just see how it always is. We just are different, we just are specific individuals, the subjects of non-interchangeable stories and even that is too containing to be descriptive.

I felt power, things I didn’t know or understand where there too, but I felt safe.

This group thing can be pretty cool. It can be like nothing I’ve experienced before.

This is just the beginning…

Lay down some intentions, lay out some vagina portraits, step into the circle, and… what will we talk about?

An image of text that reads: A shared, unflattened space, resonating with the sameness and inherent difference among us. Ganesh presents vagina vérité, an art & conversation experience.

What happens when we see the truth held in our bodies?

Later this week, we’re creating a space for the conversations we can have, and should get to have, with each other and with ourselves when engaging with art, with those in the room, with those not in the room, and with the truth and history held in our bodies.

I’m partnering with Kim Thai, founder of Ganesh, to present this new program, inspired by the many conversations I’ve had with women, and by Kim’s kind and peaceful approach to community,

and fueled by an abiding need in me to undermine the way that so much of female bodylife experience is routinely hidden, smacked with stigma and shame, marginalized, outright disrespected, mis-informed, mis-represented, under-researched, sanity-undermining, dangerous and life-threatening. More so if you’re a woman of color, non-binary, or noticeably non-conforming.

When it comes to our bodies, not just how they look, but our bodylife experiences, there’s a lot more noise than information, conversation or care.

Let’s fix that

We all deserve to live our lives on our own terms, to talk freely about our experiences, and to be able to take care of ourselves, based on our individual experiences and points of view, not on someone’s idea of how we should be.

I believe accessible information and open conversation are the foundation of a world where living a female bodylife is intrinsic to the design of our everyday lives. 

How we move through the world must be fundamental to public spaces, governance, privacy and opportunity. Not an add-on. Not something to be controlled.

On Saturday, Oct 5th, at Merge New York in Chinatown, we’re creating a zone of safety and freedom, where women can talk, on our own terms. By women, I mean to include everyone who’s biologically female and/or identifies as a woman. Our intention is for you to leave with a deeper connection to the truth inside your body and the story that you bring into the world.

vagina vérité, this experience, is an opportunity to be the Subjects of our bodylife stories, respected and empowered by sharing them, honored for how we live them. Not as Objects, defined by men, or by anyone, but as self-sovereign actors with complete authority over the course, meaning and value of our life experiences.

With Objectification as the norm and tool for knowledge and truth, and its weaponization effectively othering more than half the world’s population, Subjectification, I hope, will be the complement and the antidote, respectively.

What would the world look like, what would it feel like, if the stories we heard about our female bodylives  in so many public and private experiences, were based in our own voices as we speak for ourselves?

What would you do differently, if it was a normal thing for the world around you to reflect, support and respect what is true for you?

The birth of a social enterprise

This is the first live event in an ongoing project, where we share our bodylife experiences, and reframe reality.

Through live, remote and digital programs, I intend to build the Bodylife Library, so that the space for conversation, and for the truth held in our bodies, is everywhere.

To attend on Saturday, register here.