What do the words “red tent” make you think of? If you're like me, you will quite literally think of a red tent. If you're the savvy, New York Times bestselling book reader type, you will probably think of Anita Diamant's 2001 bestseller “The Red Tent”.
Although “The Red Tent” is set in biblical times, modern women have connected with the concept of finding a real, intimate place to gather with other women and share their own stories and secrets.
Alisa Starkweather was one of these women, and in 2006, she founded The Red Tent Movement in an effort to bring this sacred space to women all over the world.
The documentary “Things We Don't Talk About” is the hallmark film of The Red Tent Movement, directed and filmed by Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, PhD, another woman who's life was touched by gatherings in red tents.
“...[to] change the way that women interact [with] and support each other by providing a place that honors and celebrates women... and enables open conversations about the things that women don't want to talk about in other venues”.
Either way, I was interested to learn about something new. It was evident only minutes into the film that Liedenfrost, Starkweather, and many other women featured within truly believed in the ability of red tents to positively transform, not just women, but our entire culture.
I also had a lot of questions... probably the same ones many of you are having right now.
Why a red tent?
And what is it again exactly?
How and where do they meet?
How often and... just what HAPPENS in there??!
Honestly, it seemed more like what didn't happen in red tents, and where didn’t they meet. The film featured video footage taken at red tents all over the country. Coast to coast from small towns in California to metropolitan cities like Bethesda, MD. It was clear that women from all walks of life are attracted to red tents; and all of these different groups of women had their own ways of being in red tents.
Some of the monthly gatherings were formal with women wearing name tags, others were very informal featuring women painted with henna, resting together. In other tents women sang songs and shared stories. Other clips showed women laughing and eating soup, or giving massages. Some red tents were literally red tents, dressed up with beads and candles around a warm and cozy space. Another red tent was simply a woman's living room with a red rug on the floor. Yet another: a simple red ring of fabric in the sand on a beach.
The tents were about as different as the women in them, but there was one thing they all shared. These women talked together, shared their past pains and the secrets they held. Shared funny jokes and stories. Cried together. Made music together. Most importantly they listened and they heard. They supported and empowered.
And while it seems that the red tents are best suited for those who have started or are nearing puberty, all ages of women were welcome in red tents. This was one of the most surprising and pleasing things I learned in the film. I enjoyed listening to the stories of the younger girls who spent time there and what it meant to them. I really wish this had been a larger part of the film, and that the interviews of the children were more extensive. It would have been a great way to prove one of the theories suggested in the film: that red tents are a benefit to our culture as a whole, and the next generation of women.
In the end, the documentary was strong. It presented a lot of relevant, related information and answered most of my questions. However, ultimately, it was a little difficult for me to really connect with the movement. The images and information presented in the film didn't feel targeted towards me, the new-to-red-tents viewer, as much as I think the filmmakers would have liked them to. The images were private, many of them emotionally charged, but they were the kind that I believe only a woman who has felt the power of that atmosphere can truly understand.
I compare it to showing your friends a video of your baby's goofy grin, or their very first step. Every mom in the room will feel a little warm and fuzzy... she will totally get it. Your kid-less friends: not so much. It is something that is really only understood when it is experienced and close to your heart. For this reason I felt very much like an voyeuristic outsider.
I definitely think the creators of “Things We Don't Talk About” included these images because they were powerful... to them. They had that power because the creators lived them. They have been in red tents, had been touched by the energy that is felt when surrounded by those women. However, in terms of drawing new women in, I would have felt a little more connected if there were more images and information that grounded the film in my reality.
I would have loved to hear the women speak about who they were before red tents. What they did in their every day lives. How they found red tents. How their lives had been changed and what it was like to be there for the very first time.
There was one very short part of the film that kind of dived into this experience for one tent member, but it was, again, short. It was probably one of my favorite parts of the film, one of the times where I really felt tuned in. I wish that it had been longer, and that this type of story had been woven throughout and shared by more of the tent-goers. This film definitely needed an “audience surrogate”. Someone new and doe-eyed exploring this world of red tents with us, for the very first time. These are the types of images and experiences that would have made me feel welcomed into the film.
That all being said, I do feel this is a very personal perspective.
I myself am not an emotional person. Perhaps this is why I felt like an outsider more than anything else.
All of these women partaking in red tents seemed to be a “type” of woman. And not to be sexist in any way... in fact just a type of person, in general. There are men like this too. This type of person feeds and thrives off of social connections. They love to surround themselves with the energy and networks of other people. They have very strong emotions and feelings (and lots of them). I don't know if this is true of all women drawn to red tents, or just something that the film unintentionally portrayed.
Either way, I don't see myself as this type of person. Because of this, I don't feel as if I would attend a red tent to feed more than curiosity.
I would, however, completely and genuinely recommend people who feel as if they did fit that category to go. My mother and sister being two of them! I know, without a doubt, they seek and crave that sisterhood of women around them. Supporting them. Empowering them... and I would be more than happy to attend a red tent alongside them!
If you are interested in learning more about The Red Tent Movement, visit www.redtentmovie.com There you can purchase the DVD, download a digital copy, or purchase a 24 hour rental. You can even enter for a chance to win the movie.
Want to attend a Red Tent? The site also features a “find a red tent” directory. I was surprised find one just an hour from me here in my desolate, nearly uninhabited desert corner of California. No red tent near you? No problem... the site hosts a great collection of resources to help you start your own!
The Red Tent Movie Website
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The Red Tent Movie Blog
TheRedTentMovie.com is offering a collection of digital downloads to one of our readers! The winner of this giveaway will recieve:
1. Digital copy of the Red Tent Movie "Things We Don't Talk About: Women's Stories from the Red Tent" (a $9.99 value)
2. eBook & audiobook of "The Red Tent Movement: A Historical Perspective" (a $15.99 value)
3. "An Invitation into the Red Tent" an 11-minute Guided Sound Meditation (a $4.99 value)
4. eBook "How to Create a Red Tent" (a $9.99 value)
To enter the giveaway, leave a comment in this entry as instructed by the Rafflecopter, then leave the name you commented under and your email in the box in the Rafflecopter entry. (This allows us to contact you if you win!) This will open up additional optional entries to increase your odds of winning.
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and will end just before midnight ET on 4-8-15.
and will end just before midnight ET on 4-8-15.
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