When you’ve seen the doctors, tried every remedy they suggest, and you still can’t seem to get lasting relief from female pain, it can leave you feeling frustrated at the very least and angry if you’re honest. Why is this happening? What causes pain during sex, vulvodynia, and other forms of chronic pelvic pain? Why is the process if finding answers so stressful and traumatic?
A number of factors could be contributing to the pain you’re experiencing, but there’s one root cause you may have never considered.
In a word: patriarchy.
You might think I’m reaching here or making something “political” that’s not. But if you have any awareness of the connection between the mind and body as well as the dynamics of power, oppression, and pain, it’s crystal clear that the power of the patriarchy creates pressure on women and their bodies.
And it’s important to understand this, in order to release the effects of it from your body – with self-kindness, compassion, and love.
Trigger warning: I’m going to discuss sexual violence, but keep in mind that we’re talking about more than physical violence here. The emotional toll of patriarchal power can cause trauma too.
For example, the first time I understood the enormous impact of thousands of years of patriarchy on a woman’s health and body was about 12 years ago, watching the movie Dangerous Beauty.
The movie features the story of Veronica Franco, a well-known courtesan in 16th century Venice as she is brought before the Inquisition on charges of witchcraft.
As the scenes unfolded, I felt the enormity of the fear, shame, and terror instilled in women around their own body and sexuality during this era and throughout history.
It brought to light in vivid imagery what I already knew intellectually.
We live in a culture where men hold the power and girls grow up in a society that teaches us there is something shameful and unsafe about being a woman. What was true then is still true today. This power dynamic—and the messages that reinforce it—has a negative impact on our body and our health as women.
As the #metoo movement unfolded years later, I was reminded once again with 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 knew who survived gang rape.
So when my amazing clients—after beautifully connecting with their body, emotional wisdom and pleasure—ask me why their mind immediately begins criticizing and judging their experience, my answer is…
5,000 years of patriarchy.
And when women in my Healing Female Pain program 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 around sex, my answer again is…
5,000 years of patriarchy.
And it doesn’t matter if you’ve directly experienced sexual abuse or trauma yourself.
What causes pain during sex, vulvodynia, and other forms of chronic pelvic pain?
The insidious systemic violence against women in our culture has left most of us in a perpetual state of fear and self-rejection, that we are often unaware of until we begin doing the deeper work to relieve chronic pain.
Five thousand years of patriarchy has a real physical impact on your body and your health as a woman, whether you’ve been sexually assaulted or not.
We live in a system literally designed to make women hate themselves and distrust each other.
In this system, disconnecting from your body, your intuition, and your sexuality is a survival mechanism.
Because for about 5,000 years the ability to dissociate and NOT FEEL has literally SAVED WOMEN’S LIVES.
So when you want to know what causes pain during sex, vulvodynia, and other forms of chronic pelvic pain, this begins to make sense. Unconsciously suppressing who you are, your emotions, sexual energy, power and pleasure… day in and day out over a lifetime, in order to be safe, has real physical consequences.
It’s an underlying cause of chronic pain (including pelvic pain and painful sex), depression, and anxiety.
And, 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 sensations, or why you’re numb or lost your desire, 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 and catastrophizing all the time, or why you’re depressed, or anxious, or why you’re having pain during sex or anywhere else in your body, please cut yourself some slack!
You are undoing the impact of 5,000 years of patriarchy ON YOUR BODY.
This is big powerful work you are engaging, and you are not only doing it for yourself.
Reclaiming your body, emotions, sexuality, and pleasure gives other women permission to do the same. It has a positive impact on the lives of all women and girls, including your daughters, nieces, sisters and friends.
I am so grateful for the women in my life who merely by their presence and example have shown me there is a better way.
And I’m grateful for you and the work you are doing too.
This is how we heal.
It is happening, and it is happening one woman at a time, as we reclaim our wholeness and heal not only ourselves but each other.
We are not stuck with this legacy.
YOU are not stuck with this legacy.
Please have compassion for yourself when you struggle with applying the mind body tools you are learning.
The work of reconnecting to your body, emotions, sexuality, and intuition is big and important work.
It takes time, but it is so worth doing. It’s the path to all the amazing and wonderful things about being alive and living in an absolutely incredible female body.
I hope that this understanding will give you some love, compassion, and appreciation for yourself as you navigate this path.
You’re doing big and important work, and I am absolutely dedicated to helping you do it.