October 1, 2017 through February 28, 2018
Five months of unlearning and dislodging authoritarian culture from our bodies and being
Love letters,body-centered mindfulness & creativity exercises, stream of conscious writing prompts and videos arriving in your inbox once a week
A private Facebook group for us to gather and connect between calls
13 live group calls on Zoom
$79/month for five months or a one time payment of $395 (USD) (Partial scholarships available. To request a partial scholarship, please email me directly at gwynn at gwynnraimondi dot com)
I grew up, as most of us did, in a time where children are to be seen and not heard; where we are to obey adult authority without question or push back, where girls most especially are to bite their tongues and smile and nod when disagreeing with another person (particularly a male person or elder).
I also had role models in my parents who, sometimes, encouraged the questioning of authority, the speaking up, the being of my own person. This was only sometimes however, and absolutely didn’t apply when it was them I was speaking up to or questioning or defying in any way.
So, I internalized the message to be a Good Girl. To be a rule follower. To play the part, whatever that part was at any given time.
I also learned, in quiet corners and coffee shops and alleyways, to speak up. To criticize authority. To see the fault in mindlessly following rules. I learned to find myself in my own skin, my own voice, my own thinking. And this finding of me was done away from my family, away from any real form of authority. Which then allowed me to learn to question all authority, even when it scared me, even when it felt risky in some way. It allowed me the space to then come back to those I was “supposed” to obey without question, and to start questioning.
I learned when it was safe to “break the rules” and when it was detrimental to. I learned how to be a chameleon: being a rebel in these spaces and a Good Girl in those spaces and being keenly adept at knowing which part of me was welcome where. The older I have become, and with lots of my own inner work, I have been able to shed more and more of the Good Girl and to allow the defiant and resistant and rebellious Self that is me to come through. I question authority more than ever and even though at times I still shake or the butterflies still appear, I also know that I am my own autonomous person and if something isn’t right for me, I don’t need to do it.
Now, as a mother, I am in that space of wanting to raise children in a way that allows them to question and defy while also having them get their damn shoes on when they are asked so we can get out the door on time. I am seeing more and more how my own conditioning and training has both already been unraveled and dislodged and also all the work I still have to do.
We live in a culture that tries to tell us at every turn how to be and do in this world. We are told we need to ask permission to even exist. We are given a never-ending list of rules, many of them contradictory, to follow in order to be accepted or acceptable, to be loved or lovable. We are told that others with degrees and letters behind their names know our own bodies and selves better than we do. We to told over and over and over to obey, obey, obey. Or else.
And while there are certainly times when our lives can be in danger, and times when it may be paramount to our own physical safety to listen to authority, those times are typically rare in our daily lives.
So, for five months I will be locking arms and joining hearts and minds with Isabel, and together we will be facilitating a circle to unearth, unravel, dismantle, and dislodge these stories that live within, the ideas that others know better than us for our own lives, the thought that we must always follow the rules and be Good Girls. We will learn about embodying our own defiance and resistance in response to hearing and honoring our own knowing. We will embrace being our own authorities of our own lives.
I would be over the moon if you choose to join us.
In rebellious solidarity, always,
I spent many formative years of my life in an oppressive religious cult that violated consent and damaged bodies and psyches, erasing persons through brainwashing and group-think and violence. It was here that I first learned the reality, horror, and far reach of authoritarianism which seeks first and foremost to dehumanize; I learned that humans will oftentimes do things simply because they are told to do them even if those things might go against their own ethic or critical thinking or instinct and empathy.
After leaving out and attempting to acclimate to the larger social world around me and the more dominant culture of my peers, I remember how strange and disorienting it all was, always feeling somewhat outsider and unable to locate the common reference points. And I also remember being stunned and devastated that after everything it had taken to survive and get out, it turned out the larger culture around me was not as different from the oppression from which I had come. I saw the influence of group dynamic and group think, coercion and absence of consent, everywhere. As it turned out, authoritarian ways of being were actually normative.
We are told from our earliest days and experiences who we are and what we should or should not be and do. We are shaped and molded and modeled into a version of a human that someone somewhere decided was necessary for survival or desirable for image or part of what being in a particular culture means as assurance of belonging. And what we experience in the intimacy of our homes also is lived out in larger systems of work places, education, government, social systems, religions, communities.
If there was no one telling you who to be or what to do, who might you be and become?
This is much of my work in the world:
To question, deeply.
And in this, to embody the act of resistance itself.
Why do I believe this?
Why is this the way we do things?
Where did I learn that?
Is it true?
What else might be true?
Who benefits from things being this way?
Who is silenced from things being this way?
Who gets to decide and speak as authority for another human’s life?
The experts, the leaders, the gurus, the doctors, the therapists, the politicians: they do not know best what you need and what is the best for you given your own unique lived experiences. They can teach. They can offer options. They can aid and ally. But they are not the authority setting the standard for how the masses must fall in line or else be cast out from community.
If there is no space for dissent, then there is not true belonging.
Embodied Resistance and Defiance is about growing radical resiliency,
dismantling Authoritarian Culture from our being,
trusting others and their own communities that know best what they need,
trusting ourselves and our communities that we know best what we need,
hearing and honoring our own yes and no as we hear and honor other’s yes and no,
liberative joy and love soft and defiant.
Five months of circling together to dismantle and build new.
And I would love to be here with you.
With love and defiance,
Gwynn is a licensed marriage and family therapist associate in the state of Washington in the US. Her primary focus in her practice is trauma (personal lived experience, complex/chronic and acute; cultural; and ancestral/intergenerational). She offers online and in person groups and retreats as well as “remote” individual therapy. She deeply believes in the connections and intersections of the personal and political, the social and self, the individual and collective and spends most of her time unraveling for herself and others the cultural conditioning we have all received through writing, therapy and coaching work, and community activism. You can learn more about Gwynn and her work at http://gwynnraimondi.com/about .
Isabel Abbott is a consent culture radical; a birth, abortion and death doula; sexuality and intimate justice educator; sex workers rights advocate and organizer; artist and sanctuary to those leaving religious oppression working with individuals and group as well as education and training other professionals. She divides her time between Tornoto, Mexico and Chicago, listening for the stories and failing in wonder.