Guest Post: Trusting My Body as an Antidote to Brad Wilcox and Those Like Him
Guest Post by Tina. Tina enjoys nature, art, and reading. She is nearly complete with a graduate degree in trauma informed teaching and loves asking questions to learn more about the world.
My phone chimed with a message from my sister-in-law, who has also become a good friend and soulmate in a journey to connect with the Divine Feminine. Her message asked if I had seen the now infamous Brad Wilcox fireside. While I had read about it, I hadn’t seen any of it. Clicking on the Insta stories link she included, I sat down on the sofa as my two YW aged daughters wandered in the room and asked what I was watching. A fireside by a counselor in the General Young Men’s presidency I responded. After about twenty seconds of the three of us watching in stunned silence, I noticed that my daughter sitting next to me was frozen like stone and her face flamed scarlet. My daughter standing next to me had pools of tears in her eyes as she tried to choke back sobs while her body shook.
I stopped the video and immediately clarified that what he said is wrong. A physical exhale of relief followed as we mourned together that anyone, much less a church leader, would think and say such awful, hurtful things about other people’s skin color, gender, and religious beliefs. I once again reiterated that they will find harmful people in and out of the church just as they will find good people in and out of the church. This frame of mind is something we discuss often; my objective is to prepare them with tools of protection and guidance through which to navigate life. Acknowledgement of good and harmful people everywhere is one of those tools. While there is a desire to bubble wrap them, I know that is not helpful nor possible.
One new tool suddenly came out of my mouth during this conversation. I told them they can trust their bodies. No matter if they are at home, church, school, work, with friends, anywhere they are, they can trust their bodies. I pointed out to each of them the physical response I noticed as we watched Brad Wilcox speak. Their bodies will let them know if something they hear or are taught is wrong. One daughter expressed that she felt awful about what he said but didn’t know how to explain why what he said is wrong until I explained it. I pointed out to her that this is why we can listen to our bodies. Our bodies know even if our minds can’t explain with words. She nodded, happy to have another tool of protection.
As I spoke to them, I realized how important it is for me to teach my daughters this concept of trusting their bodies. Girls and women in society are taught to disassociate from their bodies in the methods and by whom their bodies are portrayed and discussed. This disconnection is amplified in the church in a variety of ways such as only seeing males ordained, through modesty guidelines written by men, to temple garments designed primarily for men and approved by men. A number of resources I had read and digested over the past several months gave me what I needed at that moment that I needed to teach my daughters. I am sharing here because the image of girls and women everywhere claiming their power through a connection with their bodies fills me with an energy to stand up and shout with excitement!
- Doing my own work in relation to my body, especially the impact of religious teachings, has been vital. I wrote about that here.
- The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk. I read this a number of years ago. This summer a friend organized a zoom book club with a few other friends to read this. It was the perfect time for me to re-read it because I had to read excerpts of it anyway for an Arts and Movement for Trauma class I took last summer as part of a graduate degree program. I remembered there is a reason why I bookmarked about every other page in this book.
- More Than a Body by Lexie and Lindsay Kite. Can these two women be hired by the church to create curriculum for young women? (They do have an online course for individuals.) How amazing would that be to have two women with PhDs teaching our young women. Their knowledge is invaluable.
- Yoga. Yes, yoga. If I am too anxious to be able to do yoga, that is a red flag that I am disconnecting from my body.
- The Heroine’s Journey by Maureen Murdock. While I haven’t made it past the first chapter of this book, the Table of Contents lists a section in chapter seven called Body/Spirit Split. I am looking forward to reading it.
- This podcast episode: Breaking Down Patriarchy and Sacred Rage – with Cherie Burton. Few things leave me speechless like this.
The one hope I have from the horror of the words spoken at that fireside is that there are many, many people who will not swallow and absorb harm any longer. Several writers at the Exponent II eloquently and thoughtfully addressed various problematic aspects of Brad Wilcox’s words. You can read them here, here, here, and, indirectly but still importantly, here. In person, I am happy to have an ally in my sister-in-law. Together, both online and in-person, let’s use our bodies – our voices to speak, our hands to write, our feet to walk out of the room when harmful things are said, and our minds to reclaim our personal authority.