Rihanna’s Fertility Fashion Figure

6 Jun

So Rihanna wore a lovely dress the other day.

rihanna-see-through-dress

As expected, people hated on it. Why? Because women’s bodies don’t belong to them – they belong to everyone else, but definitely not themselves. Especially black women’s bodies. God forbid a black woman wears her own body without shame. Why is “shameless” a disparaging term? Harboring shame should be the crime in this context. Why should we be ashamed of our bodies? We weren’t always.

The Venus of Willendorf, the iconic example of a Paleolithic fertility figure. Note the plaited hair at the top. I can't help but compare this to Rihanna's bonnet. It's almost as if her stylist found this as inspiration.

The Venus of Willendorf, the iconic example of a Paleolithic fertility figure. Note the plaited hair at the top. I can’t help but compare this to Rihanna’s bonnet. It’s almost as if her stylist found this as inspiration.

The above fertility figure is but one example of the countless female fertility figures found in excavations of ancient cultures – cultures that cultural anthropologists have reason to believe were female-oriented in their spirituality. This female-orientation especially as it relates to religious practice is suggestive of a pre-Judeo-Christian world when women’s power was their body, and it was revered (not seen as a threat).

I’ve seen some people critique Rihanna’s nudeness as a lack of self-respect for her own body. Why?  It’s important to not conflate self-respect with a shaming of the body. What she did is the epitome of self-love. I am grateful to her that she stepped out, rocking her body with fearless abandon. May we all endeavor to raise our daughters to treat their own bodies with such spiritual sensuality, self-respect, and confidence.

That dress is probably the ultimate representation of what I want to wear to my own wedding, and why not? A wedding for me is a symbol of the deepest sensual intimacy. Some cultures in other parts of the world, before Biblical-era self-body-shaming was placed upon our bodies (and especially women’s bodies), encouraged a newly wedded couple to copulate without much discretion or privacy. It was a much celebrated moment of the propagation of the human species and survival – and not to mention the union of two people for life, to raise children and consecrate their union with the most sacred of bonds – the joint formation of a life.

Indeed, Rihanna’s glorious dress is a celebration of all of these things, and not least the most wonderful example of female fertility – something that as a species, we used to celebrate, with recognition of the Divine Feminine in hundreds of cultures, as referenced by the endless fertility figures that live on only in curio cabinets, behind glass in museums.

The illusion of modesty is merely a relic of the ancient response to women’s reproductive power – one of many efforts to own and control women, especially the women of the world who were not of European descent. It’s all about control and power. But there can be no controlling what is sacred and pure, which is why the efforts to do so may never stop. Its power is simply too threatening to those who define their own power by that which they lack. “Penis envy” is a hilarious term – because in truth, it is quite the opposite. 

I hope that Rihanna has helped to usher in the contemporary exhortations of the Divine Feminine. I hope that we don’t relegate femaleness, our bodies, and our breasts, buttocks, and genitals to simply be relics behind glass and underneath our clothing. I hope that the female fertility figure comes back, and not least in the form of our divine, naked, amazing, glorious selves of all colors and shapes.

If what we really want to do is exercise self-respect, we will cast-off the modern day shackles of shame, partially imposed on us by ourselves, partially by a puritanical culture based on Judeo-Christian values. These values sought to enslave the Divine Feminine, and relegate the goddess to the inner circle of Hell, so great was her power.

Rihanna is a walking fertility figurine, and a celebration of her body, her blackness, her femaleness, and her power. Who could possibly ask her to be ashamed? It is sacred; and it is divine! 

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