Deborah K. Tash/White Wolf Woman
In Her Image Studio
SOFT POWER/RECLAIMING THE SACRED CUNT
All senses of this word are considered vulgar slang and are very strongly tabooed and censored. The meanings that refer to a woman and a contemptible person interchangeably are used with disparaging intent and are perceived as highly insulting and demeaning. There are many words used to refer to people in sexual terms. However, to call a person a cunt, especially a woman, is one of the most hateful and powerful examples of verbal abuse in the English language.
In these times of patriarchal polarization, hatred of women’s power is rampant worldwide even though there is a renewed understanding of the Divine Feminine and women's profound influence. The word cunt continues to have a pejorative meaning. Some in current cultures have taken to using the word very casually. Men call men they intend to denigrate cunts, coupling feminine qualities to the word implying that the man is worthless, weak and useless because he has womanly characteristics, even more insidious than calling him a pussy, another slang word for female genitalia! Even young women refer to women and men they don't like or respect as cunts, both denigrating themselves with internalized sexism and devaluing the power of women.
The question that keeps coming up for me as an artist is; how is it that the images of cunt which are evident in nature taboo? I see them in trees, in caverns, in the entrances to caves and underground tunnels. They are in plants, rock formations and, of course, in female animals and humans. Look at tree trunks, into the center of a rose or the mouth of a cave, the image of cunt is everywhere in nature.
But, of course, it isn’t only the images that are considered a problem, something to be ashamed of; profane and vulgar. It’s the word, cunt. If used to describe a woman it connotes a woman who is misbehaving, unmanageable, independent, and opinionated. She thinks for herself, is wild, and untamed. Not unlike nature.
Just stand up for yourself against a male who is steeped in patriarchal social conditioning and see how quickly you are called a cunt. This kind of woman isn’t obedient, submissive or docile. She may not have much respect for social norms which relegate her to second class citizenry or expect her to obey and concede to male ego and domination. She is most likely ambitious and may be quite competitive, making her own choices and way in the world. She doesn’t conform. She’s “selfish”. She’s the opposite of the passive, docile, self-sacrificing, people-pleasing mother archetype which is the main socially approved role allowed to women, even now in the 21st Century!
This woman is more in tune with the warrior-goddess, High Priestess, leader and huntress archetypes and she isn’t particularly interested in being passive-aggressive, either. Most probably when one is using the term cunt in a derogatory manner, the woman in question is being characterized as rude, overbearing and abrasive when, in fact, she may simply be direct, speaking her truth and being true to herself in the same way that men are rewarded for culturally.
I acknowledge that there are many unstable and unbalanced women who are manipulative and vindictive, cause heartache and suffering for those around them and are in need of professional assistance in order to find a more positive and fulfilling way in the world. An overwhelming number of these strong willed women are difficult because of sexual abuse trauma (often repressed to protect themselves) as children or adults, as well as physical abuse at the hands of men. Cultures that enable patriarchal mistreatment of women both physically and emotionally, curtailing their freedom and ability to be the best of themselves create the conditions that lead to that kind of twisted self-protective behavior. Still, they do not deserve to be called pejorative names that belittle them simply because they are women! They are attempting to assert themselves, albeit in a destructive manner, in a culture that has consistently devalued them.
Art and ritual are intertwined. Inducing trance states for creating art is a Shamanic act; the two have been woven together for millennia to create change, heal trauma, disease and physical injuries. When ancient peoples drew images of animals on cave walls to connect with their spirits, they were channeling these energies for healing, spiritual evolution and creativity, seeking connection with their primal power.
The artist and poet as Shaman, dedicated to the Sacred Feminine, acts as a conduit, allowing the spirit of the Divine Feminine, the Goddess in her many guises, access during the creation of art. Channeling the Muse is another way to think of the experience of trance and art making which allows access to both spirit energies and to parts of the self and Self. Some call on the elementals; spirits of earth, air, fire and water, as well as totem animals and guides. Any and all are available and this access channeled into the creation of art and poetry makes them available for community, to facilitate healing, to inspire, give solace and share blessings.
Deborah K. Tash/White Wolf Woman
San Francisco, CA
The Project began with a piece created while I was still in college studying art in the late 1970s. When I saw The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago at the San Francisco Art Museum in the early 1980s, it really began to percolate. Over the years I have shown the project with additions over time.