The Problems with Kelly Morris’ Latest Wanderlust Talk

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I’ve said this before, and will say it again and again and again, speaking in public is difficult for many people. And, while Kelly certainly has a handle on how to do it, I don’t believe it’s right to hold people to their spoken long-form discourse in the same way as we might hold that same person to their written word. Speaking in public will often involve a great deal of generalizations and misspeak that would otherwise be ironed out in a written piece with a second or third pair of eyes looking it over. (Case in point, Kelly’s miscalculation of 360 degrees [I believe she meant 180 degrees] at the beginning of the video).

However, since Kelly Morris considers herself to be a “public figure,” as her Facebook page states, and seeing as she positions herself as a “shaman,” what she says and how she says it in a public forum matters.

Below are some of the major themes and defined terms from Kelly’s most recent Wanderlust talk (posted yesterday) with, of course, our commentary. Here’s the video once again:

And, here’s our play-by-play:

(min. 3:44) “The feminine and Earth are synonymous.”

First, this is ridiculous and so base-level and unprocessed as to be utterly laughable. I mean, is this from the back of a cereal box? Based on Kelly’s own definition of what the feminine and masculine are (see below), the “Earth” would be a reflection of both the masculine and the feminine. The Earth “takes” what it “births.” It “holds” what it allows to “gush forth.” It “penetrates” what it “receives.” It “erects” what it “swallows.” Setting aside that these are largely human-centric readings of Earth, albeit ones I am not completely adverse to embracing, if anything, the Earth expresses the full range of dynamism found in overly simplistic readings of the mas/fem binary. To attempt to link it to one merely replicates the divisionism of masculinity Kelly speaks about later.

(min 4:40) Women engaging in one-night stands with “impunity” (that is, without punishment) leads to the degradation of the world we see today.

This is just silly, and sounds like most other bullshit Kelly posts on her Facebook page. While it may serve as some sort of “tough love,” it allows no room for the personal, human, or dynamic in growth. Not to mention, Kelly can go F– herself as a spokesperson for all women. We’ve spoken about this elsewhere in blissful color animation. Please watch if you have not).

(min 5:00) The balanced masculine is beautiful and about “dividing and separating and measuring. Distincting between this and that, you and me, us and them, Jew and Christian, black and white” etc.

This is a typical, if entirely dated, reading of masculinity, which pairs neatly with Kelly’s later definition of the feminine. It’s fine enough, if static and non-procreative. It leaves no room for grey area and begins to build the foundation upon which Kelly builds her own, very masculine, reading of the feminine. Other than that, it’s a total New Age cop out reworked in a far more nuanced manner by any number of better-versed pagans and dualists.

(min. 5:19) “The feminine enjoins you to embrace all things, to perceive all things as your very own…. There is no division in the feminine between nature and woman, woman and all creation….” etc.

Here we have the classic foil to the so-called masculine. I’m sure you’ve all heard this before. I get it. I’m well-verse in tarot and have an affinity for utilizing binaries as a means to break binaries. However, what’s most important to me is how Kelly sets this idea of the feminine up only to shit all over it by embracing only that which she deems appropriate, as opposed to “all things.”

(min. 5:42) As an aside Kelly mentions that she will use the terms “man” and “masculine” / “woman” and “feminine” interchangeably, because it’s “too long” to stick only to “masculine” and “feminine.”

Here begineth Kelly’s hidden admittance that what she is speaking about is beyond her scope of comprehension. Why in all of Earth’s name would a person so strongly advocating for a differentiation between “woman” and “The Feminine” fall back on using the terms interchangeably because she is too lazy to enunciate a couple extra syllables? To this I say in as much clarity as I possibly can: If you are too lazy to reflect your own teachings back to an audience, you are not in a position to speak on this subject.

(min. 6:59) Just before expressing her amazement at how awful and unaccepting “the Church” is, Kelly’s face struggles to let out a laugh about how she is speaking in a church.

Somehow the irony of the fact that a church would be “open” enough to “allow” Kelly to speak is lost on her. Why doesn’t this actually inform her understanding of the church, rather than evaporate?

(min 7:05) Kelly refers to rabbis and priests as “conduits” of the “Most High.”

Hmmm…. With the exception of ol’ messiah-to-be, Rabbi Schneerson, I don’t know any rabbi that sees himself as a “conduit” for God…. I think most see themselves as scholars of a text or two or three or four or five or six….

messiah

(min 8:20) “In the Western myth of Creation…in the Garden of Eden woman is cursed.”

This is a very simplistic view of one of the oldest creation stories on Earth, and fails to recognize the variety of ways in which this story has been interpreted and embraced by major populations of people. Even while there are plenty of Christian gnostic interpretations of the Garden of Eden that contradict the present iteration, in the Islamic retelling of the Garden of Eden both Adam and Eve ate the apple willfully. Both were also forgiven then and there. This is stated clearly in the Qur’an itself. As such, there is no “original sin,” nor is there any reference to Eve being a prototypical “cursed” female. But, who’s counting? It’s only 1.6 billion Muslims and their whacky stories?

Adem and Hawwa in the Garden of Eden

Adem and Hawwa in the Garden of Eden. Note that Hawwa’s breasts are visible.

[As an aside, what's most interesting about the Judeo-Christian creation story is that Adam, based on the root "ADM," is in some circles read as "humankind" or "earth," "red," "blood," (all pretty "feminine") suggesting that "Adam" was not the first "man," but rather the first human, becoming "male" only after a rib from "its" body was taken and made into woman. Woman, of course, being the first human. In a sense, this understanding relates almost perfectly to the creation myth as a whole, which is basically a story of how the "one" becomes many, both in the cosmos ("let there be light and dark") and on Earth (from "ADM" to "Adam" and "Eve").]

(min. 12:00) Circles are feminine. Rows are masculine.

Here is where Kelly really starts to expose the limits of her appreciation of what it actually means to embrace the feminine. Sitting in a circle is feminine? Sitting in a row is masculine? Fuck. Someone needs to tell all those Knights of the Round Table what a bunch of fairies they were! What’s also brilliant about this section is how Kelly seems incapable of challenging the masculine setup, as she herself is speaking “at” people sitting in rows. So, here we have the great speaker of the day, She That Embraceth Ye Olde Feminine, replicating a masculine dynamic. What exactly is the message again?

Maybe Kelly is right....

Maybe Kelly is right….

(min. 12:25) “The masculine says, ‘You’re down there. I’m up here.’ The feminine is the birth of total equality.”

I mean…. Do I really need to speak to this? Has Kelly actually bent the space time continuum and merged with some Sarah Lawrence kid on day one of The Feminine and Masculine 101???

(min. 15:00) “You [ladies] worship at the altar of what the male has prescribed as attractive.”

The idea that women dress in ways solely to attract men is a major oversimplification of how gender and performance play out in the world, and essentializes attraction as a whole to that of heterosexuality. It is more likely that women, like all people, dress to impress that which has power, embodied in another human or in one’s own mind. However, power is dynamic and is held by varying peoples in varying situations. Male-power only occurs in male-power dynamics and those informed by male-power dynamics. As a start, Kelly, you can read about women judging women as the guiding principle in women-centric circles here and here. This quote from the article “The Girlfriend Gaze” is part of a longer, much more insightful and complicated, piece on the subject:

“I want to focus on the role played by the “girlfriend gaze” in constructing contemporary mainstream femininity, which is increasingly written through the metaphors and language of friendship and girlhood…. This culture of girlfriendship places women’s relationships at the core of feminine identities, rather than relationships with men, or a search for male approval. The male gaze is thus rendered benign, and men are cast as an accessory in proving a girl’s worth to the most important people in her life – her circle of friends.”

(min. 15:15) Kelly refers to being skinny as something men demand from women.

Hmmm…. I’m thinking of every straight guy I know, and I can think of only one that desires a truly “skinny” woman. I know guys who like big girls, tall girls, dykey girls, waif girls, girls who look like they should be playing field hockey, JWOWW type girls, hijabi girls, you name it! Trying to pin down what kind of a body men are attracted to is a truly herculean task. Good place to start? Look at their mom.

[BREAK IN LIST: I need to stop. There's simply too much, and I can't bare to sit through another minute of this. I feel like I'm about to have a panic attack listening to this tight-mouthed nonsense. Will try and pick up again tomorrow. Babs reader, "the moment already came," did an even better job in yesterday's comments. Scroll down for the goods.]

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40 comments

  1. Yesterday I started to write: “I so much look forward to reading your breakdown of this ridiculous…” and then a bunch of shit(ty diapers) happened and I never finished posting the comment. Then, while my husband was washing the dishes and having an emotional melt-down as he complained about how uncommunicative I am, and my two best gay male friends found out their second adoption was coming through, and my birth mother went on a psychotic rant about how thankless her children are, and my father cried over the humming bird he saw earlier, and my sister-wife prepared our taxes– I fantasized about locking my kids in a glass box with perforated holes so I could’t hear them but they could still breathe and I could practice some yoga.
    So here WE are, Kelly Morris.
    Honestly I’m just relieved that you, Babs, and “the moment already came” said all that really needed to be said already.
    But I do beg you to finish up the list tmrw, if you have time.
    Now I will go try to cultivate more of an infallible-earth-mother-uncondtionally-loving-non-linear-multi-dimensional FEM(ALE) attitude….And, please please please goddess!– help me stop fantasizing that I could have some more one night stands before I die.

  2. JJLove

    Yeah- holy moley! I felt she was most directly speaking to me when she referenced the men trying to leave the church pews. Can you imagine actually being there? What the hell is going on in the “yoga world”? “Last year I taught this massively extreme view (Putting your head on the feet of your teacher). That didn’t work out for me, so let me spend an hour talking at you about whatever else I’ve been thinking about.” I don’t mean to be catty- but she also looked really strange like her forehead was heavily botoxed- and she seemed a little drunk. My day began with this and continued in this vein. I heard a friend talk about a dharma talk given by a NYC celeb teacher where she attributed her mother’s cancer recovery to her own (the teacher’s) ability to hold a positive vision.
    It’s like when people are good speakers or (in the KM case) have a big candle-lit church venue at Wanderlust, or cello music playing as a sound bed under their teachings, it sounds true- it feels profound, even if it’s really off.

  3. I have no idea where to even start with this, it’s *that* messy…

    I guess what I’ll start with is not so much as what she says, but how she says it and how she comes across in general (for me anyway).

    1) Major Daddy issues.
    Look Kelly, even if your dad is some WASP-y Harvard MBA alumni, Type A overachiever personality from Wall Street, that doesn’t mean ALL men are suddenly hyper-aggressive, sexual predators who are out to control. dominate and subjugate women to constant abuse and we women need to walk around as Greek goddesses demanding that they put us up on a pedestal. It’s not as black and white as you make it out to be. To put in the pseudo-shamanistic terms which you use, Mother Earth is Mother Earth because she is also complemented by Father Sky and Grandmother Moon by Grandfather Sun. The Earth can exist because there is a sky and vice versa. Talk to any Hopi, Mohawk, Abenaki, Athabaskan, Great Plains Native American or member of any First Nations tribes and they will tell you it’s not about the elevation of one over the other, they work TOGETHER. Being demanding, spiteful and snarky to shift that power balance doesn’t help anyone.

    2) Knowledge of other Spiritual traditions
    Pretty dismal. But I guess if you’re a spiritual granola, like many of us are, where you need to get your feet wet a few times to test the waters and see what resonates with you, that’s cool. Superficially testing a few lineages, is just that: superficial. If you really want to lay claim and become a part of a serious lineage, that means serious commitment. And that means diving really deep into it. Your characterization of Tibetan Buddhism for one is extremely ignorant, because if you did really know it, then you’d also know there are just many nuns as well as lamas. Did you ever hear of Pema Chodran? She’s an ordained Tibetan Buddhist nun and the head of Gampo Abby over at Cape Breton island AND is a holder of the Shambala lineage. Your knowledge of the Abrahamic traditions is also very, very narrow. Reform Judaism allows for female clergy, as does the Lutheran, Methodist and many African-American churches. Moreover, you’re only looking at those religions through the post-Industrial, Eurocentric experience. Like Babs pointed out, the Female has always has a place in Gnostic Christianity, even Orthodox and Coptic churches have long held the view the Holy Spirit is actually Sophia, Divine Wisdom.

    28:20 (Sorry, Kelly, you still come across as a “raging bitch”)

    35:00 “You can either go to Central Park or move out of NY…which is why they’re drinking and drugging and fucking and shopping all the time…living disassociated from nature”
    No, that’s just probably the people in the circles you hang with and a pretty limited experience of NYC. Have you ever heard of the Five Borough Farm or Brooklyn Grange and other urban gardening and farming groups or even rooftop gardening groups? There’s tons of opportunity to get in touch with nature in NYC. Did you ever think about citizen directed clean up groups, who look after the water front etc, like Change By Us?

    I don’t see any warmth or any evidence of genuineness here at all. I do however see a lot of anger and sanctimoniousness. Try spending some time in a soup kitchen and learn some real compassion. You might actually learn more in action and from other human beings who really are suffering than name-dropping lineages and hanging out with people are are not all that different from yourself in background and socio-economic strata.

  4. Yoga Whelp

    Conquerin’ Lyin’ is hard work – and nice work if you can get it.

    Men usually take home 30 pieces of silver, but with the dang gender gap and all, I’d say ’bout 24 would do.

    And ain’t i a woman? (Squeak squeak, who moved my cheese!)

  5. DJ

    Don’t know where to begin. Bless you for trying to get through that. I’m so transfixed by the immovable face. So she *isn’t* worshiping at the “what’s considered attractive” altar?? Ugh. Poor Ganesh. He looks so lonely standing up there on the stage.

  6. itstrue

    I am really appreciating the depth of intelligence and insight the commentators are saying in today and yesterdays post. I wonder if those that were listening to her at wanderlust or those signed up for her conquering lion program are able to see through the superficial, very young and somewhat just angry nature of Kelly Morris. I also really hope she reads these posts. For her own good, to avoid further embarrassment and perhaps some humbling on her part.

  7. I think this is just about hanging out with cute people and having nice hair, so it doesn’t really matter what she says. She’s moving the furniture around.

  8. Garuda

    “… Listen, strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony….”

  9. Chai Fan

    I bet everyone at that lecture SO needed to know that she’s turned down SEVEN marriage proposals!! Really Kelly, really? I wish I had something more intelligent to add like so many others on this. But I don’t. All I can say is this is just the worst…ugh…

  10. Yoga Whelp

    If Conquerin’ Lyin’ just teamed up with someone like Deepak Chopra — the way Tara Stiles has — she’d have that Hindu gloss of intellectual and spiritual authority that every white Westerner needs

    Chopra’s own shameless shaman pseudo-scientific pretensions are well-documented. I’d dress up in Brown Face if I thought it would work, but old Deepy’s got me beaten to the punch.

    Chopra’s career as the reigning Buddha of Suburbia tanked somewhere around 2000 until he found these skinny white girls to help sell the tickets. (Apparently, yoga really can revive the dead.) The girls represent the “body” and he’s the “mind.” Mind-body get it?

    I’m not sure where that leaves the “soul.” Dangling In cyber-space I think.

    America does have a long history of successful biracial salt-and-pepper duos. Remember that show I Spy? With Chopra and Stiles, it’s more like Lethal Weapon 12.

    I am going to try to come up with some nice Brown indigenous-looking and sounding person that Kelly Girl can partner with. She’s a little too old for Russell Simmons. He likes them pubescent, or at least rather nubile, with more serious celebrity star power.

    And really he’s still young enough that he doesn’t need a yoga wet-nurse like Chopra does.

    Here’s the thing: I think Kelly could really break new ground in the Hew Age Huckster world if she did a lesbian black-white or brown-white thing?

    Anyone who despises men as much as she does surely deserves a female partner to see just how close and familiar the “Other” really is.

    • amphibi1yogini

      What, Faith Hunter?

      • Yoga Whelp

        Is she available? I could email her. Maybe I could get as percentage for helping to initiate and close the deal?

        We’ve talked a lot about “brandijng ” on this site, but there seems to be a new push toward “co-branding.” Colleen Saidman and Rodney Yee are another biracial power couple like Chopra and Stiles. These are fairly new phenomenon. It could be that the tightening of the market is pushing people in this direction and/or it’s a power move to try to monopolize the celebrity market as more and more upstarts appear?

        Right now, Kathryn Budig is coming up fast on Tara Stiles, with her own showy profile in Forbes and her first yoga work-out book out.. Shiva Rea has begun positioning herself as a celebrity “diet doctor,” which is yet another yoga foray into medical quackery, I guess.

        Faith Hunter? I suppose, when the commodity is so scare, you must literally hunt it down.

  11. Mellie

    this is the biggest load of bull I’ve ever forced myself to sit through. Picking it to pieces is just too easy, like shooting fish in a barrel. So, I won’t. What does puzzle me though, is that anyone can take this seriously? And no one walked out? What is it about her that seduces these people into believing she has the answers? to anything?

  12. Greenpoint

    she is just, plain and simply, unqualified to speak on the topic(s) she is trying to address…and I can’t imagine a topic I would want her to address…

    • Yoga Whelp

      Oh, Greenie, come come, my boy, there are so many…
      “Why Yoga Blondes DON’T Have More Fun.”
      “Young, Gifted and……Blonde”
      “Flying Blonde: Feel the Fear and Pose Your Ass Off Anyway.”
      “Help, My Blonde Ambition is Killing Me – You, Too?”.

  13. the moment already came

    Conquering Lion Teacher Training Q&A
    Sunday March 3, 2-3pm at the Shala in NYC

    http://www.yoganonymous.com/featured-event/why-just-stretch-when-you-can-save-the-world-conquering-lion-yoga-teacher-training-qa-nyc-2/

    I’m sadly out of town but if you’ve got any Q’s, I imagine Kelly is full of A’s.
    Anyone care to go make a little art?

    Your attendance will apparently save the world.
    Plus there will be coconut water.
    I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’ is all.

    • Garuda

      Yes I have a question…Kelly, How come you are so awesome? and. How can I contribute to your affirmation society?

      • Yoga Whelp

        It sounds like it was her guru who rejected a “marriage proposal” – and the proposal (maybe there were 7, actually) were hers. And that’s when she discovered — as they all do — that her Master was busy and had many other special Shaman girls to attend to. Disciples really do need to negotiate better “pre-nups” with their gurus. Maybe Yama can help. It would save the rest of us having to deal with all this Vengeance is Mine — and Now It’s Yours, Too. I hope the DSM Manual of the future makes due reference to Brower, Ippolitti and Morris “Syndrome”? In the old says, we just called it “Hell hath No Fury.”

        • Garuda

          Yeah, I reached down and touched the feet of my teacher. Then he had me re plumb his house as Seva. After that he had me teach his classes for him while he rode his motorcycle. After just two years of being treated like the shit I though I was, I wised up. Coincidentally, it was at that time he decided that I was out of alignment and sent me away. Luckily there was a place to land,,,Anusara…Ba Ha HA ha ha Ha .
          Kelly Morris is way too much woman for any seven men.
          Or maybe she is way too many women for any one man.
          This gets so confusing.

        • Yoga Whelp

          Whichever the case may be, I think we can agree that she is “way too much” at being “way too little.”

    • Chai Fan

      Yes, hi Kelly. First of all, let me say how insanely desirable you are. I can’t imagine how all those poor fellows deal with all your rejection of their icky advances and of the never ending marriage proposals you have to bother with constantly. GROSS! I would also like to know how I can contribute. That is contribute to your perception of being such an expert voice on every topic that there is, and basically being the most important woman that exists. How HOW can I help you enforce this view of yourself?

  14. Lumen

    huh, i found your ‘skinny’ comments odd. Have you been to our culture? Of course men like different body types, but being slim is rather obviously the standard of beauty in our society at this time in history. Although she presents her arguments in an annoyingly simplistic way, I think it’s a bit disingenuous to focus on her poor choice of words while ignoring that she’s making a valid observation. Regardless of their true preferences, men (and women) through multiple influences are conditioned to prefer certain body types.

    • Yoga Whelp

      This is a myth. I sometimes think the entire beauty myth is a myth. Ample butts, boobs, and curvy figures are all totally “in,” thanks, in part, to the influx of major Black and Latina personalities into showbiz and sports. It started with J-Lo, and is spreading everywhere. At this point, there are way too many famous people strutting their stuff for “skinny” to be seen as the dominant motif. It used to be this way back in the heyday of Hollywood. Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren and Jayne Mansfield, to name just a few, all had “ample” figures — and were venerated for it. I think because so many of the “yogilebrities” are wash-outs from dance and ballet, and because the yoga world is so narrowly white-on-rice and female, the “skinny” focus has spread to it more than it would have done so otherwise. I would say that “fit” is definitely in. Toned and firm, but that doesn’t equate to “skinny” — far from it. Have you seen Serena Williams’ ass lately? Or Kim Kardashian’s? Anna Nicole-Smith, rest her troubled soul, even revived the Mansfield look.

      Check this site out. http://hellobeautiful.com/playlist/the-big-butt-obsession/7/ LOTSA MATZOH.

      Journalism and pop culture need fresh writing on beauty standards, but for political reasons, people are still invested in certain timeworn “memes.”

      • During Anna Nicole’s TrimSpa, Slim-Fast and colon cleanse period, she could have given today’s popular high-fashion yoga look a run for its money … may she rest in peace …

        Not all of the yoga skinnies look taut and toned, you know …

        • Yoga Whelp

          Thanks, amphibi. I agree, too. Tara Stiles, to me, is a stick figure, and she’s promising other yoga women a punishing anorexia. But what do you expect from someone who’s basic body self-image was forged during her years of training in classical ballet?

          I think American culture, in its warm embrace of diversity in ALL its forms – the transgendered are practically a privileged minority at this point — has moved completely beyond narrow body stereotypes – and frankly, it’s American yoga that is doing its best,to throw the process in reverse, all the while pretending that it’s actually preaching total body self-acceptance.

          More happy horseshit from the hipster hucksters from hell.

      • Lumen

        J Lo is slim! she may have an ample touchie, but no one would mistake her for plus-sized! I get your point tho, certainly their seems to be more tolerance for different body types – that is until you want a pair a lulus and discover they only go up to size 10!

  15. giggity

    dear baba, PLEASE do a piece on this one too…please! the fans wait with baited breath.

    • Greenpoint

      I think she’s on something, I really do….and what the heck is she wearing???

    • Garuda

      I’ll see your Elena Brower and raise you a Colonel Jessup…and friends

    • Oh there is so much wrong here. Starting with defining terms in a way that 99% of humanity would not define them. I wonder if she has any training in clinical psychology (not the mumbo-jumbo called life coaching). For some, these can tough issues that she is trying to touch on and she comes across as doing so in a flippant and non-coherent manner. You can really mess someone up if you do not know what you are doing. I mean imagine if someone is sitting there who was sexually abused by her parents, and then she is told to love them, embrace them, and that she created those circumstances. MESSED UP!

      I would like to know if it is a requirement that teachers at Wonderlust get botox. EB’s face does not look so freakish as KM’s (maybe it is because she does not have a trouty mouth), but damn her forehead is flat and smooth. Naturally when people speak they will furrow their brow etc, but not EB.

  16. Actually Babs, you should seriously consider doing a whole series on these Wanderlust talks, Kelly Morris, Elena Brower, Irshad Manji, it just goes on and on and on….

  17. jorge

    i just want more vids of the, “ill piss in your curry!” guy. i still think of him from time to time.

  18. gross

    ewe elena brower is so gross. i actually think she is worse than kelly. wolf in sheeps clothing. gross gross gross! ewe ewe ewe!

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