Red Tent Movement
International Women’s Day was recently, and I think it is an important time to inform the public what The Red Tent Movement is. I’ve never been to one before, but I would like to join one soon. I think every woman should, and these are the reasons why:
Women have gathered each other in tents for a long time, especially those who were menstruating, as connecting to other women during their cycles has been considered a powerful healing process. These red tents provided a lot of support to women. In those tents, women made use of the healing arts such as dancing, crafting, storytelling, painting, and spiritual practices. The purpose of these tents was to create a community among women who wanted to know more about themselves and gain the wisdom of elder women and others in their circle. Nowadays, there are still cultures in the world where red tents take place in order to protect women who are menstruating from society. However, these women are isolated as women who are currently having their periods are still considered impure in many African countries.
For the Western world, the red tent movement has a different connotation. Anita Diamant’s 1997 historical novel, The Red Tent, sparked wider attention and inspired many women in the modern world to relive these gatherings. Women around the world organize these red tents as gatherings with the same mission. The purpose is to create sisterhood among women, a place where women can express their deep concerns and fears without being judged, and making use of activities that bring human beings much closer to each other. It’s about reclaiming our womanhood again. There are also different names for these red tent gatherings. Some are called moon lodges or red temples because either the meetings take place in alignment with the lunar cycles or in places where religious ceremonies are usually held.
Now the reason why these red tents are popular and have awakened the ‘inner sceptics’ among us is that, in reality, womanhood is a concept that has been constructed and even diminished by patriarchal society. I know already that people who read the introduction might have rolled their eyes because what is the use of these meetings? Isn’t it already enough to meet a friend for a short chat and go out with your girlfriends to have a great night out? I love meeting my friends and I love dancing the night away. But once you’ve taken part in a storytelling circle where you share your experiences with other women from different cultures, something change storytelling becomes a medicine. You will realize that the world needs more people coming together to share their stories. The stranger next to you isn’t a stranger anymore because even though she might not have said something, she listened to your story. You recognize that gossip is, in truth, destructive and doesn’t really bond girls in a healthy way. Even women who don’t consider themselves to be spiritual or think that they don’t have anything to say have a place in these gatherings. I see authenticity, vulnerability, strength, creativity, and immense possibilities when women open up to each other.
If you’re curious and want to find more about the red tent movements, you should definitely check these links out:
Liz Ogletree and Ashley Dupree, co-founders & facilitators of moon+womb