What a word that is so misunderstood. What a word that holds so much power. What a powerless word I once thought it was. What a beautiful and safe word it is now.
In my short 31 years, I have been changed, transcended into ways of thinking, feeling and behavior only by my connections, experiences and reactions.
I was born into a fairly male-dominated society, but really, we all are.
I grew up in ultra-conservative Texas, when my little brother was born, he was the family’s pride and joy, men lead church service and dictated congregation decisions while the women quietly took care of the babies in the nursery. As a teenager, boys recklessly drove jacked up trucks to manifest their power, football was viciously glorified while most girls (including myself) dressed in scarce clothing and layers of makeup to grasp nearly anyone’s attention.
In the middle of my teens, trying to grasp hold of who I was, my own secret sexuality and my obsession for expressing myself through writing (even if no one understood), I was sexually assaulted.
It was during a high school dance and by my “best guy friend”. I was drugged and taken to the girls restroom where I was too drunk and high to yell for help. After someone heard, I was taken to the hospital where he denied the incident. The weeks after, we we’re both sent to reassignment school for drinking at a school function. I kept my mouth shut, my head down and my secret locked away.
I have never wrote those words or shared them beyond 4 people.
My story, the details, the embarrassment and its aftermath might be my own, but this unfortunate tale is same story as any other sister who has experienced assault (finally, our culture is shedding light on these injustices that have been happening for thousands of years).
When this happened, I was 16, but at 30, all the repressed feelings and memories hit me like the crash of a wave carrying sharp shards of steel. Subconsciously, I had held off “dealing” until I was aligned and full of strong feminine energy where I could go back and face the trauma head on.
I'm still working on releasing my anger, facing guilt and empowering my broken body. The cycle is ongoing and knowing that others (millions, really) out there are also "working through it", makes it a little sacred.
In this harsh world of sexual violence, shame and attacks on making decisions about our bodies, let that beautiful and strong feminine authority guide you, with tender exploration to self-love and harnessing power, that my sister, is feminism.
We (women) have been quietly taking up less space, pushing our suffering to the side for the sake of social comfort, become accustomed to male chauvinism in the workplace, suffering domestic violence with little protection from the police, accepting less pay and shitty maternity leave, enduring catcalls while simply walking down the street and have become desensitized as our sisters are trashed or thrown across magazine covers like pieces of sexy playthings.
Feminism has shifted and is no longer the term for hippies, bra-burners or “man haters”. In fact, I despise these terms (okay, I don’t like wearing a bra, who does?) and honestly appreciate the men that have come and gone in my life - my father that raised me with the most sensitive devotion, my brother who exudes strength beyond his awareness and all the guys along the way that have shaped my soul into what it is today.
But let’s get real, our world has been male-dominated from the dawn of time, but there is a shift happening - a quiet and slow shift. Women are sharing their traumas, co-creating with one another, and building awareness and self-love with our littlest generations. On the flipside, the masculine is waking up, disconnecting from the “rough and tough” ideals that are imprinted upon them. We are no longer doe-eyed doormats to our counterparts, we talk about our pain and this world is starting starting to listen.
I’m not a feminist because I was assaulted.
I’m not a feminist because I’m gay.
I’m not a feminist because I’m a woman.
I’m a feminist because I know what it is to not be.
I wouldn’t trade in my traumas for anything. I needed the intensity of my aches and sharpness of my breaks to lead me to build this powerful soul (scars and all) and share these words.
Recently, the ever-so-wise Brittany said “It’s all about self-love and finding our power as women … We are rising, as women, from the depths of where we’ve been pushed to. It’s not feminism, it’s humanism.”
These words ring in my head, “it’s not feminism, it’s humanism”.
It simply is.