This is What Dangerous Beauty Taught Me About Women’s Health

By Lorraine Faehndrich

The first time I understood the enormous impact of 1000s of years of patriarchy on a woman’s health and body was about 9 years ago, watching the movie Dangerous Beauty.

In it, Veronica Franco, a well known courtesan in 16th century Venice, is brought before the Inquisition on charges of witchcraft.

I already intellectually knew that living in a culture where men hold the power, and girls grow up learning that there is something shameful and unsafe about being a woman…had a negative impact.

Watching Dangerous Beauty was the first time I felt the enormity of the fear, shame, and terror instilled in women around their own body and sexuality throughout history.

I felt this again over the past year reading story after story of sexual assault and abuse on my social media pages, including many stories of women being drugged and raped, and several women I know who survived gang rape.

It is quite literally sickening.

I felt this massive shame and fear, again two weeks ago watching Christine Blasey Ford testify in front of a predominantly white male senate judiciary committee.

So when my amazing client this morning…after having beautifully connected with her emotional wisdom and intuition in her body, and hearing simple and powerful guidance that felt right to her…asked me why her mind immediately began criticizing and judging that experience, my answer was…

5000 years of patriarchy.

And when I work with equally incredible women in my Healing Female Pain program who ask me why it’s so difficult to stay present with emotional sensations in their body, or why they can’t feel any sensation at all besides pain, or why they don’t like sex, or feel shame and disgust about being sexual beings, my answer again is…

5000 years of patriarchy.

This is NOT a flippant response.  

It’s an acknowledgment of the insidious systemic violence against women that has left most of us in a perpetual state of fear and self-rejection, that we may not be aware of until we start diving deeper into what’s underlying our pain.

It’s an acknowledgment of the fact that we live in a system designed to make women hate themselves and each other.  

5000 years of patriarchy has a real physical impact on your body and your health as a woman.

In this system, disconnecting from your body, your intuition, your pleasure, sexuality and sensuality is a survival mechanism.

For about 5000 years this unconscious dissociation and the ability to NOT FEEL has literally SAVED WOMEN’S LIVES.

Unfortunately it’s also an underlying cause of chronic pain (including pelvic pain and painful sex), depression, and anxiety.

So, when you wonder why it’s hard to stay in your body, or why you’re resisting practicing mind body tools, or why you can’t feel emotional sensation, or why you’re emotional all the time, or why you don’t trust your inner wisdom, or why you’re so habitually hard on yourself or catastrophizing all the time, or depressed, or anxious, or why you’re having pain during sex or anywhere else in your body, remember…

5000 years of patriarchy.

These things take time to change.

The good news is they are totally, absolutely, positively changeable.

You are not stuck with this legacy, and recognizing that you’ve got it in the first place is an important step on the path to freedom.

Women wonder why they are in pain.

Why they are depressed.

Why they are anxious.Why they are so self-critical.

Why they hate their bodies and themselves.

Why they feel broken, unwanted, and not good enough.

The society you live in, no matter how loving your family was, has trained you to feel this way about yourself.

It has trained your brain that the best way to survive is to shut down ALL emotional and sexual sensations in your body.

It has trained your brain that sensations of pleasure and desire are dangerous.

In my experience, until a woman takes the time to reclaim all these aspects of herself…her body, her emotions, her sensuality, her feminine essence…she can’t heal.

It’s not possible to relieve vulvodynia, painful sex, interstitial cystitis, or any other type of pelvic pain when your brain has learned that your emotions and sexual energy are dangerous (pain is a danger response), when you’re unconsciously dissociating from your body (which disconnects you from your intuition), and when you’re unconsciously suppressing your life force energy with chronic tension..

Not in any lasting way.  

Understanding this gives me compassion for myself when I sometimes struggle with all of these things even now, even after over 20 years of learning how to feel and be embodied.

The work of learning how to connect to, love and trust your body is big and important work.  

It is so worth doing!

It’s the path to all the amazing and wonderful things about being alive and living in a female body….your joy, your bliss, your pleasure, your radiance, your sensuality, your purpose, your passion…


I hope that this understanding will give you some love, compassion, and appreciation for yourself as you navigate the path of relieving pelvic pain by transforming the impact of 5000 years of patriarchy on your female body.

You’re doing big and important work, for all of us.

I’m sending tons and tons of love and magic your way beautiful goddess.

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  1. Jeanne Quintile

    Excellent, Lorraine. Only a woman could have written this. Only women will understand. We must push and keep on pushing, until a balance, a mutual understanding between men and women is achieved…
    Thanks for writing this. I am having a very hard time. I can see the mountain but the trees keep growing, making the mountain impossible to see clearly……I have good “moments” that I latch onto, hoping, with time, these moments will become my life, again. I lost myself for several years now……..I will, I am finding her…….but not enough to be out of pain…..It’s a huge energy stealer……….keep fighting!!!!! yes!!!!!!!


    Very inspiring and beautifully expressed….


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