I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while, but have been waiting for something to make it seem like the right moment had arrived. It hasn’t, so here goes, because any moment is the right moment…
My friend Jen Cross leads writing workshops entitled Writing Ourselves Whole. These workshops are intended to be transformative: by writing and sharing their work, participants examine their thoughts, responses, assumptions, and expectations. They unwind the whole of their everyday ways of looking at and thinking about the world. Jen leads workshops with a variety of focuses. Some are intended for survivors of sexual trauma. Some center around erotic writing.
Something I have heard Jen say is that the workshops may be therapeutic, but they are not therapy.
I am most familiar with Jen’s work as an erotic writer. Steamy doesn’t begin to describe her beautifully filthy prose.
When I mentioned to Jen that I was thinking of writing about what she does, she told me that one of the interesting conversations she’s been having lately is about the apparent disparity between her erotic writing workshops and her workshops for survivors of sexual trauma. I can see some ways people might see a contradiction here, but my understanding of the two has always been that they are of the same cloth. The first workshops for survivors, including one that my girlfriend was in, focused specifically on erotic writing. The experience allowed her to come to a new relationship with her sexuality in ways she has told me explicitly, and in ways that I can intuit by knowing her well.
At some point, Jen separated the erotic writing workshops from the workshops for survivors. I’m sure there is plenty of room for erotic writing in the survivors’ workshops, if someone is so inclined, but they are not specifically structured with that intent.
Reading through Jen’s blog, I found a quote speaks directly to why I do not believe there is a contradiction between the two types of work.
We have our bodies. We have our hands and feet thighs legs arms eyes noses breasts mouths bellies chests butts foreheads fingers lips toes and yes genitals yes cunts and cocks yes they always are of us. Through [this] writing, I open to the world around me. I walk around heavily awake, I smile more amply, I touch the cats on the ledge with my eyes. I am seen and I see. I am witnessed. I am heard. I am differently present. This is the opposite of dissociation. This is the practice of embodiment.
Jen Cross has made it her work to help those around her heal themselves. She sees it as a way to make the world she lives in a better place. She knows that people who feel solidly at home within themselves are kinder to others. I think on our very best days, Body Impolitic does some of this same work, albeit differently. I believe this is the importance of Women En Large and Familiar Men.