Welcome to School of Bitchcraft, the podcast about body sovereignty and how to claim it. In this inaugural episode, we’re covering two key questions: what is “body sovereignty” and what the hell is bitchcraft, anyway?
Episode 1 Transcript
Hi. Welcome to episode 1 of the School of Bitchcraft podcast, the show about body sovereignty and how to claim it.
I’m your host, Dr. Sabina Singwell.
If you’re a woman or non-binary person who’s ever done something a man didn’t want you to, you’ve been called a bitch,
Or if you’re a trans woman who has ever simply walked down the street, a Black woman who’s ever used your voice, or an Indigenous woman who dared to exist, you’ve been called a bitch,
And if you’re a woman who’s held an opinion, written anything, or posted anything on the internet, you’ve been called a bitch.
(Not necessarily to your face, of course—but do not doubt that someone has called you a bitch.)
They called you that in a weak-ass attempt to stop you from claiming your own body, your own voice, and your own self.
Around here, at School of Bitchcraft, we go ahead and do it anyway. Instead of resisting the label of “bitch,” we double down. In fact, we make an art of it: the art of bitchcraft.
I want to be clear that when I say “woman,” I am referring to anyone who identifies as a woman now, whether you’re trans or cisgender, or you might resonate with what I’m saying if you were assigned the gender of “girl” at birth and you were socialized as a girl.
Also, School of Bitchcraft does not trade in stereotypes, so this podcast won’t be teaching you anything here about, I don’t know, putting sugar in your ex’s gas tank or sleeping with your best friend’s spouse (we all know which bitch to look to for that kind of shit, and if you’re too young to know who Alexis Carrington is, then ask a Gen X’er.)
Bitchcraft, true bitchcraft, is not about sharpening your talons, taking other people out or trying to trample others on your way to being #1.
None of those are the signs of a bitch who is confident and relaxed in her own self-knowledge.
In fact, around here, a “bitch” is a woman who is at peace with herself, her body and her choices. Bitchcraft is the practice, the always-unfolding practice, of coming back to yourself to locate that sense of peace, and rejecting the social conditioning that puts a barrier between you and that sense of peace.
Peace is not the thing we normally associate with being a bitch. But “peace” is just another way of saying “ALL out of fucks to give.”
So the practice of bitchcraft is a philosophy, a political stance, and a way of being. In short, it is the art of unlearning to be good, and specifically, the art of unlearning what it means to be a good woman.
Ground zero for being a good woman? is your body, and what you do with it.
And the societal expectation of what we do with it is to control it.
And one of the very first ways we are taught to control it is by trying to manipulate our weight and control the food that we eat.
So ground zero in the practice of bitchcraft is unlearning these practices of manipulating our food, our bodies and our weight.
Now, the idea behind controlling our weight and our food, the idea is that we can control–or TRY to control–because it really doesn’t work–other people and how they relate or react to us.
Bitchcraft is about surrendering attempts to control others.
And oddly, no matter what we do with our bodies, we still find ourselves subject to judgements about where we put our bodies, the way we use our bodies, the way we dress our bodies. We’re subject to sexual harassment and heteronormative expectations of how a woman should behave and live her life. Some of us live with racial profiling, being hypersexualized from a young age or being underestimated because of our class or race.
Well, fuck. That. Shit.
You know what’s better than controlling your body? Claiming your body sovereignty, claiming your full capacity as a human being to govern this body and to claim autonomy over it.
Now, let’s be clear on a couple of things: when I say “govern,” I do not mean “control,” or at least, I do not mean “control” in the sense of “manipulate.” I’m talking about boundaries. I’m talking about self-hood. And I’m talking about responsibility to ourselves and to each other.
I’ll talk more about this in future episodes, but the bitchcraft philosophy that I espouse is about offering our bodies and honouring our bodies with deep, deep respect, and NOT manipulation tactics, or attempts to, for example, “trick it” into feeling full, or to take a major macronutrient away from it in order to temporarily lose weight, or any of those bullshit, highly gendered ways we are encouraged to control our bodies.
And the body sovereignty I am not talking about is NOT some weird-ass libertarian political expression that’s like, “I am the boss of me and down with big government and I will express myself in a violent manner, no matter how much that threatens other people.”
The body sovereignty I’m talking about is rooted squarely within the interdependent web of existence with other human beings.
And it’s for THAT reason that body sovereignty, if you haven’t noticed already, is deeply political, in no small part because it is unevenly distributed. Men, for example, don’t face having their reproductive rights being taken away from them; white people don’t face the wildly disproportionate incarceration rates that Black and Indigenous people do.
But what I foresee the bulk of the episodes in this podcast being about,
is the inner workings of how we relate to our own bodies, especially when it comes to living in a culture that is obsessed with dieting and ensuring that women are in a near-constant state of vigilance about the shape of their bodies. I’m especially interested in the ways that women are socialized not to take hold of our own body sovereignty, what the barriers are to us doing that, and what the possibilities are for us when we do.
So this podcast is for those women who are curious to explore their own body sovereignty and the possibilities of what this means for them.
I’m talking about women who are DONE with being afraid but aren’t sure of what the next step is,
whether you’re afraid of what people may think about the size of your thighs, or to speak up and say what you really think, or to truly trust yourself.
Maybe you are DONE with dieting and obsessing about food and your weight, but you don’t know where to turn to to escape the incessant noise. You want to be “body positive,” and technically they are, but…just not about your own body.
You want to be free of the burden of perfectionist thinking and perfectionist eating and perfectionist parenting and fitness and on and on, but you don’t know what’s next.
And if this is you, I’m so glad you are here! Over the course of this podcast, we are going to talk about things like
- Feeling entitled to having boundaries
- How to prioritize your own well-being over that of diet culture and how that helps us access a deep well of self-trust that fuels true confidence
- How to challenge ableism, fatphobia, sexism, racism and other institutional forces that erode your and others’ body sovereignty
- How you can honour your body as an exquisite source of knowledge and experience, even when you’re not madly in love with it (which is somehow another layer of bullshit expectations that’s been imposed on women recently)
- And how to have fun doing this.
Now, to be sure, I promise you, I do not have this all figured out.
I CAN tell you that I do have a few things figured out, and these are the things that fuelled me to make a podcast.
First, I have a background as an academic: I have a PhD in political science, with a concentration in feminist theory, so my background in academia deeply influences my understand of how power works,
I used to be OBSESSED with weight loss and “healthy eating,” and in the years since I’ve healed myself from my food and body obsession, I’ve accessed this incredible well of deep self-confidence and deep self-trust that has been guiding all of my choices since then. And since then, I’ve helped other women get out of the same hellscape: I’m a body and food coach currently working towards my Diet Recovery Coach certification with the Centre for Weight Neutral coaching;
And, finally, I spent a fuckton of years in therapy, learning about boundaries, learning how to own my shit and how to not pass my shit on to my daughter. (We’ll see how well that turns out in a few years.) And boundaries is a HUGE part of the work that we do around here at School of Bitchcraft.
And School of Bitchcraft–the podcast, the website, the coaching services–the whole project is my effort to not just share my knowledge about body sovereignty but to learn more about it and better articulate its possibilities. School of Bitchcraft, like me, and like you, is a work in progress, and I’m thrilled and humbled that you’re still here and along for the ride.
In bitches we trust.
If you’re intrigued or excited to learn more, hit subscribe in your podcast player now. And sign up for my newsletter, This Week in Bitchcraft, so you never miss an episode. Just go to schoolofbitchcraft.com/newsletter sign up. And of course, if you want to help spread the word about bitchcraft and body sovereignty, be sure to like, subscribe and rate School of Bitchcraft in iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.