I am going to share something very vulnerable here and a tiny bit x-rated. You have now been duly warned...
I have been thinking about how to introduce The Red Velvet Diaries to the world. Today I feel ready to talk about it.
More than anything else, The Red Velvet Diaries are about me (and by extension all women) experiencing and living desire for its own sake. It isn't that this excludes shared experiences of desire between men and women. It is that this isn't about men. It also isn't about society and its standards of female beauty, desire, sexuality, expression...
So often women are asked to be in their desire, to showcase it, and to make it conform to the wishes of the viewer.
I remember when I was about 16 years old, I saw something remarkable (to me at that time). I saw a woman actually orgasm on camera in a porno. It was remarkable because by then, I had spent hundreds of hours in a meth fueled haze watching porn scenes designed for men and fulfilling the rag doll fantasies of the man who started all those tapes to begin with. Yet, I had never seen a woman powerfully in her own desire or even in her own pleasure.
I was transfixed.
I think I wore out the rewind button on the remote. Why? Because I had learned about my own sexual pleasure in the context of violence and in relation to a man's desire rather than my own. The deviation from the usual money shot model was striking.
So lost was I in that world, that in fact, the distorted male fantasies displayed in those videos and lived out in my 16 year old life became my own.
And they became a way of life.
As a young woman I not only lived for the male gaze. I lived through it.
I am choosing not to live through it anymore, not even a little bit.
So, The Red Velvet Diaries are about seeing myself and my desire through my own eyes. Similarly, my work is about offering other women the support they need in order to overcome their pain and stand in the power of their desire.
This is all a lead up to what I have to say next...
This world seemingly cannot stand to see women loving, accepting, and defining themselves and their successes without input.
I need look no further for evidence of this than Tess Holiday (formerly Tess Munster), the very plus sized model who created #effyourbeautystandards. She was recently signed to a very lucrative modeling contract.
Tess is a woman in her desire without reference to what you or I or society thinks.
People have just gone out of their minds at the thought that this woman dared to own her beauty, enjoy her body, and land a modeling contract at a size 22. She didn't wait to get healthier, lose the weight, become something acceptable to the many lecherous eyes who seem to have no issue with underweight women on the verge of starvation...She fucking went for it!
The reactions have been frightening to watch much less live (as Tess has).
Still, today, well into the 21st century, we are willing to burn a woman at the metaphorical (and in many places, not so metaphorical) stake for owning her own life and her own sense of beauty and sensuality. For more dismal examples of women robbed of or punished for their desire and independence, consider the way ISIL has made women into sex slaves and how the now dead Saudi King, imprisoned his own daughters and left them to starve in their gilded cages.
This is not new! The witch trials (which gave the idea of burning women its wide scale debut) were themselves very likely a thin "spiritual" veil over an attack on female sexuality, desire, and independence.
For this reason, The Red Velvet Diaries are the most vulnerable thing I have ever set out to do.
I'd be lying if I said I am not terrified. I am. To engage women's desire, power, independence...is to engage these stories as well.
My work has always been revolutionary. But its revolutionary qualities have also been, all the talk of warriors, and even revolutions notwithstanding, muted in ways that this is not. My work and my book, Coming Alive!, have always addressed indirectly the hatred of women's desire as a part of a global system of control, domination, and exploitation that generally isn't very friendly to passion and desire on the whole.
The Red Velvet Diaries will hit right at the heart of the matter. In fact, it is the extension of all the work I did in writing Coming Alive!, and of all the work I have done this last year to uncover and court my own ecstasy and power.
Now I am stepping forward. I am stepping out as someone who will midwife women into the fullness of their desires and into the fulfillment of their self-determined potential.
That might sound pretty. But I am starting to get the hint that this is mud work as much as anything.
That means it starts in the mud and the muck of separating women's desire from all external influences and it ends with the fulfillment of those desires for their own sake - separate and apart from the eyes that hunger for female desire, pleasure, sexuality...
I have often said that being a whore might be the most revolutionary thing a woman could ever do simply because we project so much onto the archetype of the Whore, and therefore, onto the women who carry it.
I was mistaken.
The most revolutionary thing any woman can do is to take possession of her own desire and her own life and do with it as she will.
In doing so, I am taking up the mantle of the Whore and the Virgin in tandem.
A woman who takes on the Whore is a woman possessed of her own desire. A woman who takes on the Virgin is a woman in possession of herself (whole and complete).
In launching The Red Velvet Diaries, I have to acknowledge where I am standing: on top of the X that marks the spot at which women's lives and women's desire are inherently political and considered heretical if not criminal.
I cannot imagine being anywhere else. Yet, though I am willing, even desirous of this position, I am wobbly.
I feel like Eve standing before the apple tree, daring to take that first bite, to defy the direction of God and man.
My legs are shaking, my heart is pounding. Yet I am compelled by this dangerous desire to take this journey into my own sovereignty and beyond that, to escort the willing.
But I am more than just an available companion.