There has been much polarisation going on amongst women. This gig called The Feminist Movement has many haters, dissers, critics, slammers, judges amongst women and not even far lefties or conservatives but liberal women, empowered women, self expressed women. I am still sitting in the depth of the dismissing of women exploring and being freely expressed; particularly when it comes to expressing their anger, rage, disgust and other such ‘darker emotions’ or as some would say ‘negative emotions’, like categorising our emotions into right and wrong is a truth.
It appears that there is a manual for being lady like, sweetly spoken, not too outspoken, kind in all your words, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”, “women should be seen and not heard”, “don’t be ugly”, “don’t show your tongue”; and this manual should be followed if you are to be a good woman, a correct woman, even a real women.
There is a saying that makes no sense to me that goes like this ‘real men don’t eat quiche.’ The implications of this saying is that that real men are not soft, vulnerable, dare say have or show feelings of affection towards other men. Real men are not allowed to be soft and sensitive. In the case of women, the rule is that real women don’t swear, get angry or show their pain through expressions of rage and ‘rude words’.
Some of the responses by women to The Women’s Rally that took place in the USA and some of the speeches made by women have been “they should not express too strongly as it diminishes their message.”, “They should stick to the facts and not get personal.” And yet are we not all the subjects of our own experience and desires. Is it not for ourselves and each other, our daughters and their daughters and our sons that we rage and cry and stand tall and speak and walk side by side for. It is personal…………..
I am sitting in a new deeper understanding of how it is so hard for women to sit up, stand up, speak up, be seen, be heard, be witnessed, be celebrated, be championed, or be left the fuck alone at least without being tampered with, pulled apart and put under the microscope of the Orwellian and patriarchal manual of right speech. There is a hell-of-a-lot that you have to navigate, circumvent, negotiate, reconsider. It seems that when you open your mouth with energy and maybe some swearwords and some attitude and even some drama about you, that you have to be willing to lose a lot in the transaction. Brave and courageous takes on a whole new level of extreme sport when even the goddesses and women’s empowerment coaches/mentors/teachers want to distance themselves from women’s shakti filled, passion laden speech. There is a saying that the opposite of love is not hate, the opposite of love is isolation.
I have seen fine, intelligent women, women who say that they hold a torch for women, they ‘do’ their women’s work, who say they are there to empower women, I have seen these women wash their hands, publicly distance themselves and make it clear to anyone within earshot that they are not like those ‘other women’. Even suggested that there is a right way to empower women suggesting that there is a wrong way also.
Some saying that all this women expressing themselves stuff going on in the US and around the world is because women are lost in the matrix. These women have forgotten that they get to dismiss this movement; this revolution because their fore mothers fought for them to be freely expressed, freely sexual, have a right to be in business and not in jail for their provocative ideas of sovereignty. Yes we free ourselves first and then we go out and make the world match. but who says what is the correct way for women to be empowered? Who get’s to decide? Is that not an oxymoron to say that you empower women but only in the way that you deem the correct way?………..
“I’m not a bad girl,” I would scream. “i’m not a bad girl. I’m not a bad girl.” I might as well have said, “I’m not a girl”.
~ Maxine Hong Kingston
I don’t know if we get to decide which bits of women’s freedoms, we get to support or not. I think maybe you are either all in or all out. Feminism is intersectional; it is inter-relational. The Feminist Movement is about all social issues pertaining to bringing about equality of sexes and no issue can be curtailed if equality is to come about. Racism is a feminist issue, LGBTQ issues are a feminist issue. The gender pay gap is a feminist issue. Even religion is a feminist issue. We cannot disown one part of the narrative, without undermining the momentum of this revolution.
“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”
~ Audre Lorde
It is not a stylish conversation, it is not a sexy revolution, it is not all neat with please and thank you. It does not say ‘no’ only when it has the floor to speak. It interjects, it speaks over the top, it has to get a word in edgeways. It is a conversation that has to repeat itself for more years than it really should have to. Like gay marriage and native rights, it has to repeat itself a whole lot. It has to leave a mark, make a dint, provoke, challenge the status quo, take the headline, continue the conversation…..
Here are some of the inclusive supportive comments I received from women friends
Honor Morningstar wrote the other day in response to Ashley Judds Nasty Woman speech:
Nasty is not a word I particularly want to associate with, and yet I’m SO grateful for the nasty ones, the ‘out’spoken ones, the fierce ones, the wild ones, the fighting ones, the wolf-running ones, the fuck-the-establishment ones, the edge-walkers, the trail-blazers!! As I am for the gentle ones, the soft ones, the tender-hearts, the peaceful doves, the ones who make their revolution quietly, internally and soothingly. Embracing all these diamond facets of woman!
Or this by Karyn Battersby, a fierce free thinking women:
I’m watching and trying to understand. Understand why other women are outraged at the outrage and why women are apathetic about the outrage.
I think however we choose to give expression to our anger is ok. Pink vaginas, swearing, outrage, slam poetry…..however you best express yourself, whatever resonates with you.
But for other women to attempt to silence women’s expression because it appears “nasty” or it’s not done “nicely” or because women can achieve more with a “soft” approach is just a sign of how deeply entrenched the oppression is, how deeply we as a society have come to believe the roles imposed upon us. We body shame women, we mummy shame women, we emotion shame women , we sex shame women, we achievement shame women ……..all in the name of control and silencing.
And this by the extremely intelligent Sophia Finter:
Somehow in this debate the “old” feminists have become yawn yawn and the younger generation of women speaking out now are “undeserving”. What is that about? Isn’t the fight an ongoing one? Is Ashley Judd “too pretty” to be speaking out. Or too Hollywood like Meryl Streep, Alicia Keys and Madonna. Julia Gillard made a damn fine misogyny speech and that was celebrated by many but maybe that’s ok because she’s not that pretty, well educated, a politician and well – a redhead.
Julia Gillard’s Speech:
I want to finish my throughs and words about womens anger and passionate expression with this powerful speech by lesbian black feminist activist Audre Lorde:
“I was going to die, sooner or later, whether or not I had even spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silences will not protect you…. What are the words you do not yet have? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language.”
I began to ask each time: “What’s the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?” Unlike women in other countries, our breaking silence is unlikely to have us jailed, “disappeared” or run off the road at night. Our speaking out will irritate some people, get us called bitchy or hypersensitive and disrupt some dinner parties. And then our speaking out will permit other women to speak, until laws are changed and lives are saved and the world is altered forever.
Next time, ask: What’s the worst that will happen? Then push yourself a little further than you dare. Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end.
And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”
~ Audre Lorde
I would love to see women hold a torch for other women to walk by, hold a mic for them to speak into and hold a hand for them to know that their voice is not a lonely one, their message is not a solo one.
Lotus Indigo Shakti Kruse