I wrote this as a Facebook post and had so many personal messages about this that I realised that I had hit on an unspoken nerve. So I am sharing it again.
I can feel my mind wanting to get its fingers around and understand this half understood, left undone, knot in my stomach. It is mild so does not keep me awake at night and yet I notice the corners where my mouth has opened and the status quo in me thinks it might be better if I keep it shut.
In the past few weeks I have written a few posts that have received push back and dare I say, predominantly from men. I don’t mind push back. I prefer it when my words have been considered, slept on and meditated for where they are true or could possibly be true. Not that it matters really because I am not informed in my soul life by others disagreements with me. I notice though, the bravado that I am still, still thinks at times it could be easier to just shut up. What does that say for the quieter girls. Maybe they will never feel safe enough to share their inner musings if a girl like me can feel disenfranchised.
It has been suggested when I open my mouth that I am a man hater…….. that is a simple assumption to make about a women who speaks at times exclusively from a womens narrative. It has been suggested that because I speak a female narrative much of the time, that I am participating in reverse sexism, that I do not consider what it must be like for men. It is like my narrative gets ambushed for it’s non inclusion of men. It has been suggested that I don’t acknowledge the plight of men and single fathers. I find this fascinating.
Last night my son was surprised to hear that I am a feminist. I was surprised that he did not know this about me already. He thought that feminist meant women wanting to be better and superior to men. That being a feminist was for women who hated men. It is interesting how that narrative has been ambushed also. Feminist is a dirty word. I explained that men could be feminist also and what it really meant to me to be a feminist.
I see women even heckling over what it is to be a feminist and some denouncing it, saying it is unnecessary. This week everyone is dissing on Beyonce staying with her cheating husband and being pissed at his mistress like there is a code of ethics to the sisterhood that needs to be adhered to if you are going to wear the badge. pulling apart the number of women who helped on the album compared to the amount of men who helped on the album as though to be a real feminist would have her work exclusively with women. That she is not black enough, her hair is ironed. That she should not promote black panther, black rights in her work. But doesn’t all that defeat the fucking point of feminism which is equal and free rights for all. It is her art, her narrative. That is all. It is her contribution to the conversation, like her or not.
I define myself a feminist, probably to the horror of my mother who said to me when I was a young girl in the 70’s, that she thought it better to be feminine then a feminist. The 70’s feminists felt it necessary to disown their femininity to push open the door to the boys club. I am sure my mother didn’t know that I was reading Betty Friedan, Germaine Greer, Gloria Steinem, Naomi Wolf. Now I know I can be both feminine and feminist.
But beyond my being a feminist is my sharing of my experience and my reflections on personal, cultural and global goings on. My experience is just that and it is a continual artwork as I explore lifes implications and impacts on me. I don’t move further away from considering myself a feminist, but closer to this idea of equality between the sexes. I am accused of inciting separation, but I did not create this separation nor do I perpetuate it. This is the antithesis of what I am about and what my flavour of feminism is about. I stand for individuation, diversity, exploration, an equal playing field for ALL and a telling of personal truths and stories and collective stories.
We are moving into a time now where it is trendy to become gender neutral and gender fluid. Androgyny is not a new thing, it has been around for ever. Androgyny and ambiguity can be a camouflage to get past enemy lines but it can also get your head bashed in. One of my heroines is a women called Aurore Dupin who went by the pen name George Sand in a time when only men could be published writers. She dressed in mens suits to enter the mens salons and artisans studios. She became notorious and slept with other notorious women as well as having Chopin as her lover. Was she a feminist? Absolutely. Did she work the system to get her art out? Absolutely. And her books sales fed her children and kept a roof over her head.
There are many narratives that need their voices heard and their rights upheld in a world that feels more and more retrograde. The more neutral and all inclusive everyone tries to be to be politically correct, spiritually nice and socially accepted, the more polarity there appears to be out in the global stage of radical and extremest legislation. It too is not a new thing but just gets stuck in my craw when there is such a desire for liberation and there is such a beautiful increase in consciousness and choice. The cosmos is always looking for equilibrium and biology is a strong draw card.
There are waves that come into shore strong, to then go out and regroup for the next push. The LGBT rights movement. The black rights movement. Indigenous rights movement. Cultural rights movement, religious rights movement, Children’s rights, economic equality amongst nations, Women’s rights and of course men’s rights. Mother’s rights and father’s rights. All in some stage of movement. Breathing in and breathing out. It is a conversation about finding our place where we can stand supported, acknowledge and empowered.
Ambushing a womans narrative with ‘what about men’ is like ambushing a LGBT narrative with ‘what about heterosexual rights’ or black rights with ‘what about white people’. When a women speaks of her experience of domestic violence, it does not exclude that men experience domestic violence. When a women speaks of equal pay rights, it does not exclude LGBT rights to marriage. It is a piece of the conversation.
So when I state truths like my ex husband does not pay a cent to the upbringing of his children, I am not man hating. Am I angry at one man? No, I was but I am not anymore. And if I was angry, would that be allowed in the conversation? I am stating a fact. What I feel about that and what I have done with that fact in my life is a very interesting tale to tell one that defines some of the work I do to support other women.
When I write of women ultimately having the right over their body to abort without the consent of the father of the child, It is a fact. It has been legislated and is being criminalised for women to have rights over their bodies but they still have the sovereign right over their body. You may not like it or agree with it, but it is a fact. It is where women do have their own power. This is not a narrative about how unfair it is for men to not have this power over women. Nor is it a narrative on animals rights or fair trade or sustainable water harvesting. This is not those stories.
I don’t need to be inclusive of every flag that is flying. It is not my job to put everything in the pot and stir it. I am not a professional activist of anything. I am not trying to be trendy nor am I trying to be provocative. We can all speak loud and clear in the noise about that which we are personally moved and passionate about and this passion usually comes from personal experience. This is the way of embodied activism.
It is a narrative that does not need ambushing. A conversation whose hour is not up. It is one that my gender and my experience compels in me to participate in.
I am a feminist, a woman, a mother, a lover, a voice in the kaleidoscope.