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Zoe’s New Feminists Essay

July 22nd, 2009 · 3 Comments · Politics


This is a nice essay that was slipped over the transom by a fellow New York warrior in honor of Women’s History Month, thought I’d share.


by Zoe Artemis

These days my life is divided up into two moving parts: teaching dancing, and campaigning for Barack Obama.  Yes, I’m a Baby-boomer for Barack.

On March 8, International Women’s Day, I taught a Belly Dance workshop at my studio in New York City.  My role:  to teach women to connect with their sacred feminine power and their female heritage. The women in attendance ranged in age from 26-60, in all glorious shapes and sizes.

Belly Dancing has great mojo power in bringing together highly smart women from all walks of life, to get down with each other, and dance.  I create a supportive environment where women can feel sexy, saucy, ass-kickin’ strong, vampish, gorgeous and nurtured; a space where they can express latent archetypes:  the coquette, the angel, the sensualist, the earth mother, the gypsy, the performer, the priestess, the warrior, and the tribal dancer.  Meet the new feminine feminists.

We spent the day swiveling, shimmying, shaking, and moving our hips independently of our torso, like a pendulum swinging beneath an immobile clock.   To world thumping music our hands created the frame around the body; sometimes the moves were soft, sensual and inward; other times it was outward, wild and reckless.  A tribe of women who validate and confirm each other’s sensuality and beauty becomes the perfect antidote to lack of self esteem.  For many western women Belly Dance is truly a form of liberation.

The feedback I received from women who belly dance with me is this:  it’s not necessary  to have that one-to-one attention from a man in order to feel womanly and sensual.  Women can feel sexy, sensual and feminine whether they’re in a relationship or not. It’s about creating self-confidence, community, joy and humor.  The repetitive movements bring us fully into the present moment, the meditative state, into the zone.

Another aspect which is important for us feminine feminists is that we get to play dress up.  Gone are the pant suits, the jeans, the sweat pants, the baggy clothes, the clunky sneakers and the 10″ high heels.

We usually think of feminism as a modern, contemporary trend, however there’s a new kind of feminism that is emerging, where women can own up to their sensuality and softness, while maintaining their fire.  I don’t want to take orders from the patriarchy, but I don’t want to take orders from (contemporary) feminists either, i.e., Hillary Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro; which brings me to the current political climate.  I am stunned by the raw voracious and, yes, desperate grasping for power by the old guard feminists.  It’s pathetic and frightening to see these women make fun of anything deep or soulful, and who take joy in wounding people.  Some feminine feminists:  Samantha Power, Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Arianna Huffington.  Yelling, shrieking, mocking, bullying, punching and whining are not cool.  Punching and whining simultaneously?  That’s an oxyMORON.


Zoe Artemis is a native New Yorker who currently teaches belly dance classes at her studio, creative movement classes in the NYC public schools, and campaigns for Barack Obama.  In 1977-78, at her first job ever, she worked as an administrative assistant in the Carter White House.


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For the historic 2008 election night Zoe and I shared together check out The Rose of Hope.

Or for another take on the modern woman’s mind check out The Secret Life of Winifred Mitty.

Or for another positive empowerment essay riff check out Be The Invincible Spirit You Are.

Or for the story of my feminist mother, who was one before there was a word for it, check out A Song Of Enid I Sing.

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Pat Taub // Mar 25, 2008 at 8:50 AM

    I loved Zoe’s descriptions of women moving beyond (dancing beyond) the prevailing prototype of the ideal woman as young, thin, and surgically-enhanced. There are numerous routes for a woman to reclaim her true self, and belly-dancing seems to rank right up there as one where women of all ages and shapes can discover their untapped, natural sensuality.

    Zoe’s observation is reminiscent of Audre Lorde’s classic essay on “erotisim” where Lorde describes eroticism as a broad concept, felt in all aspects of the awakened woman’s life, allowing her to be personally and politically empowered by her sensuality.

    Zoe draws the link to Hillary and her cohorts who have “betrayed” (to use Carville’s word) a woman’s natural sensuality, compassion, and integrity in favor of dirty politics. How ironic that among the two Democratic candidates, Obama is the candidate owning integrity, compassion, and an appeal to our higher natures. He has emerged as the true feminist in this contest!

    Pat Taub,
    Portland, Maine

  • 2 beatnick // Mar 25, 2008 at 10:15 PM

    Hey Zoe, I love your comments…….and furthermore:

    Clinton’s most bizarre claim is that Obama is unqualified to be commander-in-chief. Clinton herself never served in the military, and has no experience in the armed services apart from the Senate armed services committee. Her husband had no military experience before becoming president. In fact he was a draft opponent during Vietnam, a stance we respected. She was the first lady, and he the governor, of one of our smallest states. They brought no more experience, and arguably less, to the White House than Obama would in 2009.
    We take very seriously the argument that Americans should elect a first woman president, and we abhor the surfacing of sexism in this supposedly post-feminist era. But none of us would vote for Condoleezza Rice as either the first woman or first African-American president. We regret that the choice divides so many progressive friends and allies, but believe that a Clinton presidency would be a Clinton presidency all over again, not a triumph of feminism but a restoration of the aging, power-driven Wall Street Democratic Hawks at a moment when so much more fresh imagination is possible and needed. A Clinton victory could only be achieved by the dashing of hope among millions of young people on whom a better future depends. The style of the Clintons’ attacks on Obama, which are likely to escalate as her chances of winning decline, already risks losing too many Democratic and independent voters in November. We believe that the Hillary Clinton of 1968 would be an Obama volunteer today, just as she once marched in the snows of New Hampshire for Eugene McCarthy against the Democratic establishment.

  • 3 brettha // Mar 26, 2008 at 10:55 AM

    An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton:

    Dear Hillary,

    There was a time in my life when I would have voted for you simply because we share the same name. Many women I know are supporting you. One friend told me she wishes you were her mother.

    I am compelled to tell you why I cannot vote for you. It’s very simple really, and reminds me of when I was a student in chiropractic college. Friday night would arrive, after a long week of classes, and all the male students would get together and drink beer, while the women would assemble for a study session.

    We were women competing in a man’s world. Everything we did was to be competitive–or better– than our male colleagues.

    Unfortunately, your presidential bid is the same game. You appear to be a woman in a man’s world with a compulsion to prove you can be better at their game than they are. I’ve thought long and hard about this and, there’s something crucial you’re missing. Women have something men can’t compete with and that’s our ability to bear children. This puts us in an infinitely different game with an entirely different set of rules.

    In the utopian paradigm of my mind, I imagine the world being run by women. And, in that fantasy, the most important element is that there is no war.

    You claim you’ll be ready on day one. You claim to have knowledge and experience that puts you on top. You tell us you were already in the white house for eight years and claim to have insight no one else has. You watched, along with the rest of our nation, when the towers collapsed. You listened to the rhetoric from our president and the news channels. I never believed that Saddam Hussein had WMD’s, and I did not have the same privileged access to information that you did. And yet, you voted to let mothers around the globe senselessly sacrifice their children in a war over oil.

    It astonished me that you voted for a war in Iraq and it astonishes me that you now hide behind the fact that President Bush lied to us.

    Maybe the world isn’t ready for the kind of woman president I imagine, because she clearly isn’t running in this election.


    Brett Hillary Aronowitz

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