Over the weekend I came to think about what being a woman is and what having a held space for women means to me. It almost feels wrong to say that woman’s roles are a new discovery for me. I have always known what these consist of but it is only recently that I have been told, learnt and experienced these roles with a positive and realistic view instead of the derogatory portrayal of housewifery and associated tasks.
I have started to look at housewifery, nurturing, sewing and cooking as much more than a stereotypical role, but as a natural role that women have undertaken across the ages. My renewed passion in these tasks has made me feel more secure as a woman, which has enabled me to open up to new passions, such as that of wood working, something I was frightened to pursue in school because it meant that I would be in a room full of boys. I wish I had the strength of mind and confidence that I have now back then as I would have taken that step, no questions asked. I can do the common masculine ‘powerhouse’ jobs-heavy lifting, chopping wood, digging holes, because of good techniques and strength in my core. I also know when my body needs a rest. I am not a believer in ‘everything you can do, I can do better’ which I believe many feminists these days to believe in. Men can cook, I can chop wood (and enjoy it) but I also believe that there is a division and it is worth being respectful of it. When I am pregnant I don’t want to have to chop wood but I’ll happily darn or weave or weed.
In a spiritual sense, the female space is also a new discovery, having never fully looked closely at myself spiritually. This comes from a fear of looking too deeply at things that scare or repulse me. This fear has always been at the back of my mind and making myself known to me and to others is much easier in the supportive and nurturing space of a room full of females. The instincts in a woman of care and compassion are clear to feel when discussing everything, from the universe to the acorns, the childhood bullying to pregnancy. It is more free with no men around. Men are sometimes too quick to joke. I feel stronger when surrounded by women and more able to be heard.
This is not to say that sharing my world with just women is how I feel my life should evolve. I strongly believe in the gentle interplay between the genders in all things as being a powerful tool in learning about myself and my position in the planets ecosystems, but having a separate organised space really helps to focus your attentions on gender specific intentions and issues.
Ruth: I really appreciate the chance to be in a single sex environment, as growing up, both at school and at home, I never spent much time in one. It is a very new experience for me to be part of such a close knit group of women and feel completely trusting and comfortable around them. Over this first season that I have spent with Buddhafield I have been through some really difficult circumstances and had to face a lot of things about myself and my relationships with others that were very hard to admit to. Had it not been for the support of so many women within the cafe team, and also from the retreats team, I think I wouldn’t have been able to make the changes I have, and understand the whys and hows of the situations I found myself in.
I have always found it difficult to make and maintain female friendships, but it is something that I am realising is really important to me, both personally and spiritually, and that the more I open up and give, the easier creating and maintaining friendships with women is. I feel as if an aspect of me which I never gave much thought to before is being nourished and being brought out of me. The areas of Buddhafield I have experienced, the cafe, festival and Trevince House, all have an enriching female aspect alongside an equal, yet not necessarily the same, enriching male aspect. This serves to create a really held, supportive, open space, in which I feel I have been able to explore myself and start to understand myself, in ways that, within a mixed environment, it is harder to do.