When I first saw this book, Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts, I hated it immediately. I couldn’t completely ignore it, though. What was it exactly? How to catch a man? Awful Cosmo-style sex advice?
I read a few reviews that intrigued me enough to pick it up, and I’m both conflicted and delighted that I did. There is a lot to hate here, if you want to. For example the overall trend in examples of women fulfilling their bliss reads as pretty outdated and sexist, and for all the mentions of nonmonogamy there isn’t a single reference to the existence of queer sex or relationships.
What there is, though, is a surprising spiritual edge. Fundamentally this is a book about the importance of pleasure as a guiding principle. It’s nothing groundbreaking in that regard, but it is fun, warm and gentle with lots of exercises and hand-holding, and a decent amount of depth and nuance with subjects like eroticism and integrating uncomfortable emotions.
If you want, Mama Gena will guide you step-by-step through the process of identifying, strengthening and fully owning your desires, both conscious and dormant, sexual and extremely not. She’ll also remind you of the power of openly living through these desires to bring you more joy and success in every area of your life.
I particularly like her take on flirting, as discussed in this student interview from her blog. The idea that flirting is just the act of authentically showing up and really entertaining yourself in the presence of others – rather than trying to achieve a certain outcome – may be old news to some but kind of blew my mind.
I also liked her exercises involving ad-libbing alone on sticky subjects like desire. My go-to method for dealing with this kind of stuff is journaling, but sometimes saying it out loud feels surprisingly liberatory, and plus I can work out my blocks while washing the dishes. I’m definitely going to add this to my repertoire permanently, and feel like it’s already been pretty awesome.
Anyway, If all this is your forte, you can totally go ahead and skip this one. For a bad witch like me, though, who believes in pleasure but sometimes gets totally turned around, distracted and stuck in my head, this book is like magical cotton candy, and I like that.
I like it a lot.
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