[Update, 1/10/2017: Speak From Your Vagina is a movement that launched in the wake of the US presidential election. We’ve grown a lot and quickly, and we’ve got a new name: “Fembodiment.” Learn more here.]
The mission statement of the Speak From Your Vagina is:
To explore the embodied and voiced experience of being feminine in today’s world.
Let’s break that down…
Explore: Asking questions more than seeking answers. Doing our best to stay playful.
Embodied: Residing in our bodies. Feeling, experiencing.
Voiced: Expressing, sharing, and speaking out loud.
Feminine: Which is different than female. Working to understand and embrace the power of feminine energy. A note here: We get that the name “Speak From Your Vagina” sounds like it’s only for people who possess that particular anatomy. However our intention is to use the title as a metaphor. Currently our circles are designed for cis or trans women identifying as female. While we see the continuing value of women’s circles, moving forward we’re also interested in hosting events that welcome all gender identities and in creating a framework to bring those with diverse voices and experience into a room together. Sure it’s not anatomically possible to Speak From Your Vagina, but everyone can access feminine energy. (Also, below you can read the story about how this movement came to have such a ear-catching name 😉)
Today’s world: Transforming faster than ever.
The two key themes are really embodiment and voice. So many of the feminist resources available are theoretical and appeal to the mind. Or if they are about embodiment, they generally pertain more to what we put on or in our bodies. This movement focuses on our bodies themselves: how we are embodied, how we move through the world, and how we express our truth as our feminine selves.
We have women’s circles called Vagina Scrums.
You can read the story down below about how Vagina Scrum evolved and came to have such a fabulous name, but suffice it to say that a Vagina Scrum is a women’s circle. Each month the Scrum has a new theme. Some examples include: Intimacy, Authenticity, Sexuality/Sensuality, or Lineage.
There are three parts to a Vagina Scrum:
- The practice: This is an embodiment and/or voice practice based on the theme (it might be something like chanting, eye gazing, or dancing).
- The potluck: This is your contribution to attend Scrum. It’s a powerful thing to provide sustenance for others and break bread in community. The food has a theme each month, too (ie: food that looks like a vagina, or fall foods).
- The discussion: The opportunity to discuss the theme in a group in person, and then engage online afterwards to continue the conversation.
For every Scrum there are 3 jobs:
- The facilitator, who leads the practice and facilitates the discussion.
- The host, who offers their home as the location and organizes the potluck.
- The secretary, who takes notes about the discussion and shares them online afterwards.
Starting in December, Vagina Scrums will be held on the third Saturday of every month in locations all around the world by anyone wishing to organize one. The Speak From Your Vagina leadership team is building a website that will provide all the resources necessary so that you can gather a group of women wherever you are to have a Scrum.
Who started this?
My name is Elissa Weinzimmer, and I am the founder of Speak From Your Vagina. This is me on the back of the NYC Public library lion, channeling the ancient Egyptian goddess Qadesh (this photo shoot was ridiculously fun). Qadesh is a goddess of truth, beauty, and sexuality. In one hand she holds lotus blossoms and in the other a snake. I bet you can guess what they symbolize (hint: genitalia).
How did this all start?
I’m a voice and movement teacher, and I focus on vocal health and presence. I’ve had the idea to do a project about self love and femininity for quite some time. Back in 2009 I was in a bad relationship and wasn’t sure why I was stuck, so I decided I would go to therapy. One of the first assignments from my therapist was to go home, look in the mirror, and tell myself “I love you.” I dutifully went home, looked in the mirror, and froze. I couldn’t say it. I felt nauseous. I consider myself to be an open and loving person, so it dawned on me pretty fast that if I didn’t love myself, lots of people must have the same problem. I decided I wanted to do something about it. I started a writing project on the topic, but then went away to grad school and shifted my focus back to voice and movement.
Flash forward to summer 2015. I was teaching a voice workshop for actors, and a student walked in and said: “I’ve been told I need to speak from my vagina.”
“Yes. Yes,” I said.
I started thinking about how to teach a class called “Speak From Your Vagina.” What would I teach? Was I even qualified to do this? I was stuck on these questions until one day I had the epiphany: I was a teacher in every other aspect of my professional life, and perhaps this time I didn’t have to teach, I could just facilitate. Bingo!
Not much later, I was sitting with a friend saying I needed to have a vagina brainstorming session. This friend, who works in software development, said “Oh, you need to have a vagina scrum.”
I replied: “I have no idea what you just said, but yes.”
Turns out a scrum is how the players lock in to start a play in rugby. It’s also what software developers call the iterative brainstorming process.
So in October 2015, we held our first Vagina Scrum. We’ve been holding underground Vagina Scrums in New York since then, and the Speak From Your Vagina community has continued to grow. I’ve known that this movement needed to blossom but have been nervous and unsure of how to proceed. Then the US election happened, and the Great Pussy in the Sky (bow to Mama Gena for that one) knocked me upside the head letting me know it was time to launch in a big way.
Why is Speak From Your Vagina important?
I don’t think I’m shocking anyone when I say that the challenge with expression is widespread in our society, especially among women. In yoga terms, we are a society with blocked throat chakras. I’ve polled groups of women about their voices and heard women repeatedly say things like:
“I have trouble taking up space physically and vocally.”
“I hate the sound of my own voice and lots of other women’s voices too.”
“I don’t know how I should sound. If I soften my voice people don’t take me seriously, and if I try to act stern or confident people think I’m a bitch.”
“I don’t know how to access my real, authentic voice.”
These issues have been especially apparent during the recent election. Hillary Clinton was alternately attacked for being too shrill, too forceful, and inauthentic. Which really begs the question: What do we expect from women’s voices? Can they ever be right?! (If you’re interested in that question, read this).
I believe the solution has to do with stepping into a more feminine paradigm. Which would explain why women are often the ones most physically and vocally blocked. That being said every human is a mix of both masculine and feminine, so this healing can help everyone across the gender spectrum. In this patriarchy we live in, being out of balance toward the masculine has stifled our voices and our expression. We either yell to be heard or shut our mouths tight; we stomp around bombastically or retreat into our shells. Without the feminine everything is black and white - there is no gray.
Our society is hurting from being stuck in this dualistic paradigm. Now the bubble has burst and we realize we can’t go on living in it. So how do we proceed? We allow ourselves to feel what we feel in our bodies, express our truth through our voices, and listen to each other fully. We allow ourselves to come together and communicate. And we do it all in a feminine way, because feminine energy is open. It is cyclical. It flows like water. It allows for depth and nuance and change. It’s creative and generative. It thinks outside the box. It’s non-hierarchical. It allows everyone to have a place and a voice and a purpose.
Why are women’s circles at the heart of this movement? In her recent memoir “On The Road,” the legendary feminist Gloria Steinem wrote: “If I had to name the most important discovery of my life, it would be the portable community of talking circles; groups that gather with all five senses, and allow consciousness to change.” YAS Gloria.
I believe with my whole self that it’s time for a change. It’s time to give everyone a voice. Anatomical differences aside, it’s time to speak from our vaginas.
There are three ways you can get involved right now:
- We’re holding a Speak From Your Vagina launch event on Saturday December 3rd in New York City. This event is open to all genders! The theme of the event is: Presence and Power, and it will be a larger-scale Scrum, plus cover the information you need to start your own Vagina Scrum. If you can attend in person in New York, purchase a ticket! If you can’t, we’ll live-stream it on Facebook. You’re also invited to make a donation to help this movement get off the ground. All the information is here.
- Sign up for the Speak From Your Vagina mailing list here to stay up to date on all things.
- Interested in supporting this movement, helping spread the word, or getting involved? Email email@example.com.
Last but certainly not least — a HUGE shout-out to all the women who have attended Scrums over the past year, all of the people who have listened to this little idea as it’s grown over the past 7 years, and especially to the ladies of the leadership team so far: Stevie, Liz, Sara, Allison, Sam, Monica, and Bailey.
Here we grow!!! (Cheesy. Love it.)