Today, I Decided to Listen to My Body’s Stories - For More Freedom in Feminism
@Authored by Harita Jeong / @Illustrated by Annika Gemlau
@Book Purchase: in Korea, visit any book store (오늘부터 내 몸의 이야기를 듣기로 했어 – 더 자유로운 페미니즘을 위하여) / in Germany & other Region, contact the author (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In this book, the author demonstrates through her own experience how feminism can be incorporated in everyday life. It tells how to live life with dignity without succumbing to the dangers of being consumed by anger or cynicism about the violence omnipresent in our modern society. There is no single answer, no panacea for the soul, but rather it is a book that shows a direction for sexual liberation that is well worth pursuing.
In November 2015 Harita Jeong, who was residing in Freiburg, Germany decided it was time to share her journey as a woman, immigrant and feminist. She contacted a leading independent media The Feminist Journal ILDA in South
Korea about the prospect of publishing her stories through this media platform. Her columns quickly garnered the
attention of readers with lively online discussions following each column. Not only readers enjoyed the articles. In May 2016 she was contacted by two different publishing companies, who each wanted her to write a book
based on her columns. This book Today, I Decided to Listen to My Body’s Stories was published from the company Dongyuk. Harita, which is also a spiritual name, means “green” in Sanskrit.
“In this time of rebellion, I ask earnestly … “How will women become freer and more expeditious than they are now?” Will it be from the pain and scars of the past, which have yet to overwhelm us, or from the way in which we come together when gender discrimination and violence against women continues today. Or will it come from the perspective of the body, which is the medium through which we expresses ourselves and our experiences of the world at every moment and the vessel which contains our being. I was concerned about the healing, liberation, exploration and growth of women. This book is a record of those troubles.” (p. 6)
The nearly 400-page manuscript accompanies a Korean woman on her journey in Korea, U.S. and Germany while examining and confronting her own upbringing, personal boundaries and traumatic past of sexual abuse. Specifically, it details the process of a survivor exploring her troubled inner world and healing the wounds through psychotherapy and various body liberation projects. The book is divided into five sections, each a treatise within itself.
Section 1 starts with the premise that “We are all survivors of sexual violence.” We have become domesticated and complacent through persistent sexual violence in the media. This paradigm is propagated through inactivity, silence and finally by acceptance as the status quo. Chapter three relates how destructive emotions become “Toxins in My
Body” and why today is the time to embark on a healing journey.
Section 2 is introspective and personal as the author recounts her experience of psychotherapy in Germany. This section is comprehensive starting with chapters about the decision to seek counseling and five preparation steps before starting
psychotherapy. The treatment of traumatic memories is a fundamental part of the healing process. In particular, the method of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) was utilized for analysis and treatment. EMDR emphasizes the role of distressing memories in some mental health disorders, particularly posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The author guides us through her encounter with her traumatic memories and the exercise of reprocessing them using EMDR. Chapter seven discusses the broader topic of psychotherapy as an integral part of mental health
and the current state of psychotherapy in South Korea.
The third section presents several methods for healing and maintaining inner peace through daily practices. Included are introspective exercises for creating mental safety measures and defending against trauma attacks. External release is offered through creative therapies using art, music or writing to solidify the healing process. Finally, stress reduction techniques of mindfulness, meditation practices and simply “letting go” are encouraged.
Body Liberation is the subject of Section 4. “To be fully free, resilient and sexy” is the motto of this section. It begins with an overview of the historical oppression of women’s bodies, which leads into confronting the outdated laws and censorship that still exist in modern society. The narrative continues with a description of the motivation and effects of feminist activism in the form of participation in “Free the Nipple Campaign” as part of a local queer parade and the ongoing, daily “No-Bra Campaign.” Further personal body liberation was achieved via “Rediscovering My Body: A Self-Nude Photography Project.” The following three chapters focus on a better understanding of menstruation. Providing access to healthy and sustainable menstrual management materials and techniques allows women to stay healthy, and tuned with their bodies. She demonstrates that menstruation can be great source of power and creativity when women truly know and accept the “Moon” inside them. The final chapter in this section, “Oppression of the Female Body through Sexual Objectification,” presents another perspective on the beauty industry and the desire to live a simpler, organic lifestyle.
“Freedom of Sexuality: Our On-going Life Adventures” is the title of Section 5. Included are discussions about the
female biology of the clitoris and vulva with stories of masturbation and orgasms from personal experiences as
well as from a “Female Ejaculation Workshop.” Tips are provided for creating healthy sexual fantasies and the
direction of ethically-produced new pronography, made by women for women. The dominant paradigm of gender binary is questioned as Harita shares her personal exploration of homosexuality and discusses other queer lifestyles. She challenges us all to try “Experiments Rather than mere Tolerance” in the search for our own individual
sexuality. The book is illustrated with 14 original paintings by local artist, Annika Gemlau. Annika, who is a close feminist companion of Seyeon is a cultural anthropologist as well as co-founder of the Sherazade — Anarchistic Feminist Reading Circle in Freiburg. She has taught herself diverse painting skills and freely experimented them everyday. Based on deep conversation and Harita’s photographs and storylines, Annika created unique images that dynamically change over the pages of the book. These two women made a special space for their deep communication and co-work, and fully enjoyed the creative moments.