Article: The Inherent Narrative Of Our Bodies And The Power They Hold (Inspired by Woodhull’s ‘Bodies Tell Our Stories’ ft. Julie Gillis, Ericka Hart, Shelby Hadden, and Crista Anne)

When writer, educator and all around badass Crista Anne started documenting her efforts in trying to achieve an orgasm while under the effects of anti-depressants she did so as a defiant act of body and sex positive activism (as well an act of personal self-care).

Her journey, brilliantly dubbed #OrgasmQuest by herself, was everything she intended it to be and more. But, unfortunately, ‘more’ doesn’t always mean ‘positive’.

Crista’s personal quest was soon picked up by various news outlets and suddenly became a much more public affair.

What was once a solo narrative suddenly became a story that everyone felt the right to share and author – turning Crista’s journey in to the adventures of a ‘hot mom’ who was more interested in self-exploration than parenting (as if the two activities can’t co-exist in a person’s life).

The experience, of course, had an impact of Crista but, fierce individual that she is, Crista stood firm and fought against many of the contending narratives that people tried to impose upon her actions. She remained (and still is) a stalwart defender of her lived experiences. Her body tells a story and it is primarily hers to tell.

It is for this reason that I don’t wish to get too flowery with recounting Crista’s struggles and I instead urge you to go and check out her site and/or Twitter but I do think Crista’s experiences are worth sharing.

Why Share Our Struggles?

Crista’s experiences with the media were both good and bad, but it’s easy for many to ask why one would even expose themselves so openly and honestly to start with.

The answer being that representation matters.

Bodies tell a very personal story but that story is one that so many people may share without even knowing. Humans are incredibly social and communal creatures. There are few things worst in this world than feeling outcast or isolated simply for the way your body or mind functions. And it is for this reason that people light up whenever they find out there not alone, even if the reason for this solidarity is one that speaks of struggles and pain.

It’s the reason that, when Shelby Hadden said that her upcoming short film, Tightly Wound, deals with Vaginismus I couldn’t help but let out a gasp of excitement and had to stop myself from shouting ‘Me too tho!’ out loud.

It’s why I have always tried to frame my sexual experiences around my own struggles with Vaginismus and consider those who may still be struggling in all my reviews.

Recognising the stories that our bodies have to tell and taking steps towards visibility (no matter how big or small) allows people to feel validated and understood. It may also even give them a platform to recognize their own story where before they hadn’t even considered the power their own body might hold.

And, yes, I did say that my struggles with Vaginismus have given me power.

Claiming Our Bodies As Radical Resistance

The power of my own body (and its story) became incredibly apparent to me when sharing my own story over the years, but this belief was solidified upon meeting Ericka Hart.

Ericka’s life is as vibrant and fascinating as her words. At a public protest she once decided to go shirtless (because, fuck it, men can without hesitation so why not women?). But Ericka is, among many other things, a Black, Queer, and Cancer-Warrior.

This combination meant that Ericka’s body had inherent power for anyone that saw it, but the way she narrates and presents the story of her body even more so.

When Ericka spoke at Woodhull about her experiences she spoke just as much about what wasn’t represented or overtly acknowledged in her experiences ‘on display’ as what was. To be a queer Black woman is to sometimes have others try and dictate the direction of the story your body conveys and try to shoehorn it in to a specific space. To which Ericka said ‘Fuck no’ with her words and actions.

Having a body, having a story, and recognising it not only allows you a sense of communal validation but it also allows you to represent and advocate for areas of activism and representation that may otherwise be accidentally overlooks, or even intentionally repressed.

As Ericka says in her own bio during her cancer diagnosis ‘she realized that neither her identity as a queer black woman, nor her sex life as a survivor, was featured prominently in her treatment’ and that is something that she knew needed to change.

Sometimes that change can be monumental. Ericka’s certainly has been. But sometimes it can be as subtle as working towards self-acceptance and subtle acts of representation. But in both methods the action taken is powerful AF because it’s the intent that matters.

The Takeaway

We cannot necessarily control the impact of our activism or the audience that it may reach. But if there’s one thing we can do it’s to recognise that every single body in this world inhabits its own unique space and thus it has a story to tell.

We have stories to tell.

For others.

For society.

For ourselves.

And it is a radical act of self-love and activism whenever we muster the courage or clarity to do so (or decide when to protect and withhold certain aspects of our narrative for our own safety).

The story of your body is yours to realize.

I wonder where it will take you.