I don’t watch the mainstream news because I prefer to consciously choose the news that infiltrates my mind. I find things out via word of mouth, social media and research, and I trust that whatever I am supposed to know will come to my attention.
The one downside to not watching mainstream news is that on occasion, something of interest to me slips through the net. I only found out about the women’s marches on the day they were happening, which worked out for the best considering I was beginning to feel unwell, otherwise I’d have been keen to get involved.
Now I sit here with the fire in my belly that I feel towards women’s rights fully awake and ablaze. So much so that I have found the energy in my flu-fog to sit at my laptop and write when all my body wants is bed.
All these women’s issues coming up again, all over social media. I guess they never died, but like the embers in my belly they went through a sleepy phase. It seems wrong, but the difficult truth is that we often need a villain or a downfall to wake us up again, and in seeing all the images that I, and many others have seen of the women and men protesting their rights, and re-posting many of the them, I have a sudden need to express something that I have not fully expressed before -no holds barred.
It is NOT OK. It’s just NOT fucking OK.
It was not OK when the man in the street groped my backside intimately in my late teens.
It was not OK when the man on the bus tried to discreetly caress my leg until I noticed and shouted ‘Excuse me?!’.
It was not OK when one of my driving instructors used to strain his neck for a glimpse of my behind as I sat in the car.
It was not OK when an ex told me he didn’t want me to go to a salsa class because it meant other guys would be dancing with me.
It was not OK when the men in their cars and vans hooted, whistled or called out ‘I’ll have some of that!’. Will you? Really? Am I on a shelf for you to ‘have’ as you please? Do I have a say in this considering it’s my body?
It was not OK when the man on the train platform brushed past and whispered ‘nice piece of pussy’ into my ear, leaving me paralysed in shock and feeling vulnerable, with my pulse thumping in my throat and temples, questioning whether I’d heard that right.
It was definitely, DEFINITELY, not OK as I walked down the street on my 30th birthday with my friends, on our way to a club, wearing my brand new floaty, white short dress and boots, feeling like a happy angel, enjoying my own long legs, and looking forward to creating my sexy, happy 30’s, when a man skulked past muttering, ‘I hope you get raped.’
I remember trying to laugh it off, shaking my head at the ‘disgusting man’ and telling a few of my friends. I remember thinking ‘leave it, it’s your birthday’, but then on the way home the sordid words crept back into my mind and I felt suddenly, breathlessly unclean, less than, helpless, disgusted and angry…sad that I wasn’t allowed to dress and act how I wanted freely, vexed that showing my legs meant that I should be raped, that I’d somehow lost the right to my own body just because someone else got to see some of it, resentful that I had a vagina and yet never, ever wanting to have an arrogant penis…and he hadn’t even touched me.
I cry inside for all the women who have had to endure rape. I scream in agony for the women so in touch with their nature that they were called witches and sorceresses and then tortured, burned, hung and drowned. I pray for the women that are told they cannot drive, or kiss or walk in the street without a chaperone. I am sad for the women who have to hide the fact they are breastfeeding. I am frustrated for the women that scrunch tampons into their hands, bras, pockets…hell I’ve even shoved one into my ugg boot…in case poor men get embarrassed or disgusted by our ‘disgusting’ nature. I remember being asked to get rid of my ‘nasties’ as a young girl when I had just started having my periods and had forgotten to flush the toilet and that sense of embarrassment and disgust at myself has never left me. I am angry for the women who feel they need to act like a man to get ahead in their work. I’m done with patriarchal adverts that tell me I don’t need to rest my body during my time of month because I can just use their product and plug my flow up so that I can keep moving and pretending it’s not there. I am sick and tired of the ‘jokes’ and ‘banter’ about women’s inabilities or women over-dramatising the difficulties and pains of pregnancy and labour, of trying to hide the realities, pains and sacredness of our periods, of pussy this and cunt that as though our genitals are disgraceful, and of not being allowed to be fed up of it. Aren’t you tired too women, of laughing it off but fuming inside? I love humour, but for God’s sake it’s time to get real.
I am sorry for the men who have also experienced rape and domestic violence, but I have no patience for the men who feel that they aren’t getting enough attention and so proceed to downplay and poo poo the woman’s plight like it’s not that bad and like we’re just moaning and complaining. I agree that it’s not good to dwell on things, and some women do get too angry to the point of fighting fire with fire, but it’s perfectly fucking OK to express your pain and tell your story until it’s out of your system and you can find a way to start actively creating your solution. Did you read the above ‘not OK’ list? That’s ‘just’ the average woman’s life experience of inequality within the span of a few years.
Some religions and cultures say a woman should be covered because she is precious, some cultures say a woman should be free to bare skin because she is nature and naturally beautiful. I say live and let live. Stop dictating how a woman can dress or be altogether.
If you are covered ask yourself why? Is it to pander to men’s inability to control themselves and their lack of willingness to learn to respect women? Because you are afraid of the consequences? Or because you genuinely feel good within yourself when you do so regardless of what others think or expect?
Are you uncovered because you believe that is the only way you will get the love and attention you crave? Because you are following a crowd or trend? Or because you genuinely feel good in yourself, and sexy when you free your body?
Find the truth of your choices women, and own your truth…you owe it to your sisters, to womankind. YOUR kind. It’s not an us and them, it shouldn’t be a fight, but those that disrespect us can’t always learn to respect us until they start seeing constant examples of our self-respect all around them. That can only work if we also respect each other. I hold my hands up to criticizing women in the past for wearing a ‘belt’ and not a skirt, or muttering ‘it’s not that hot love’ to myself when a woman had half her butt cheeks out. I see now that’s what I heard my peers saying, I see also that I feared the criticism of my own body and shuddered at the thought of men’s sleazy gazes all over my body if I were to dress like that. I also felt a tinge of jealousy at the women’s guts to be free with their bodies and at their beautiful figures. Now, in hindsight, those judgments were playing right into the sexism, misogyny and gender inequality issues we face.
Initially it may look like a resistance or a fight, so that our voices can be heard, but once we have shone the light on our needs, we then need to act on them. We need to not be afraid of how we are seen and to speak up when a criticism is blatantly wrong. We need to start rocking the boat regardless of our fear, knowing that all women are on our side, and we need to start welcoming the men that get it, and protecting them too so that they can protect us. It is scary, it feels insurmountable, precarious, unsafe and lonely…but if we have each other women, and the men we trust, we can do anything.
I am a woman. I bleed every month and I feel the pain of the world magnified a few days beforehand, I feel the pain of all the things I put aside on an average day, I feel my ancestors and their ancient pain. I feel the pain of a fist squeezing in my stomach repeatedly on the first day of my period. I bleed lifeblood and I have been brought up to be embarrassed of it by society. I have been brought up having my moods and emotions teased and ridiculed because the rawness and truth of it makes people uncomfortable.
Our wombs and vaginas are portals; gateways between the un-manifest, the universe, whatever you choose to call it, and the earth. That’s pretty powerful, scary to some men. We hold the power of creation in our wombs. Men need to realise this doesn’t make them unnecessary or impotent, it doesn’t make them seed-slaves. We honour them when we invite them into our gates where they are given the job of esteemed guide. They guide creation. Their warrior-calls and lion roars at our gates awaken the sleeping, formless, heaven-dwellers into life made manifest. They are vital and they are made of us and we of them. No one should be dictating anything to anyone.
I don’t know how this ends, but right now it’s not OK, and I pray for both genders to eventually work together.