I do not work in social care or support. I am not trained in social care or support. And yet on this International Womxn’s Day I just don’t feel that my usual “Strong women: May we know them; May we be them” message is sufficient anymore.
Womxn – the intersectional term and concept that womxn are their own separate individuals, operational on their own terms without dependency upon a man.
During my recent hiatus from the online community I turned to the solid and regular support in the Monthly Mehndi Meet. This very real connection with fellow artists and friends was an incredible comfort during a very jaded part of my henna journey. The last 4 months and 6 sessions we have had together have maintained my rooted connection to the force of henna. They reminded me of the strength that comes with the gathering of women, and simultaneously the very real effects of the patriarchal social structure in our immediate circles.
I live a privileged life. I was well raised, loved, sheltered and provided for in a small coastal town. I’ve never wanted for anything. While I may be of a minority ethnic heritage, it is one that is historically viewed favourably, and seen as non-threatening (in a somewhat disparaging manner). Although being female (and all the life experiences that comes with – #YesAllWomen), I have been offered opportunities throughout my life to pursue whatever I may please. And I have married a wonderful fellow human who has continued my life pattern of being provided for, sustained, and loved. I know very well that when I began my henna journey that it began on the background of the privilege I have and continue to experience in my life. My daily life is secure and loving. So where is this going? Am I just here to be smug about my privileged life?
That’s not my intention. Today I want to highlight that even in my sheltered, secure privileged life I have come into direct contact with: womxn who live with abuse (physical, psychological/emotional); womxn who have been denied the power or the right to care for their own children; womxn whose lives have been dictated and controlled by the needs of the male dominated structures surrounding them; womxn whose mental health issues have been dismissed as unreliable, unreasonable behaviour; womxn who have suffered abuse from other womxn for no other reason than power or competition.
Why, in the year of 2019 are these issues STILL so prevalent? HOW in this day and age can forward thinking modern humans in developed countries reconcile this behaviour with all that they know about the world?
What I wish is to be able to do is forcibly intervene in these oppressive experiences and stop the perpetration. Wouldn’t it be amazing to enter each of these situation wherever they may occur with the power to right these wrongs? Superhuman, I am not.
And so for International Womxn’s Day I ask of you, and all of us, to acknowledge what is happening around you. ACKNOWLEDGE the womxn you know who is being psychologically abused and had her children withdrawn from her. ACKNOWLEDGE the womxn who has fled her marital home, leaving her children behind to escape physical harm and violations to her body. ACKNOWLEDGE the womxn who has been been unpredictable recently and understand that there are probably underlying issues you are not aware of that is driving the erratic behaviour. ACKNOWLEDGE how you might be feeling threatened by another womxn and ASSESS WHY you feel this way – take ACCOUNTABILITY for your feelings towards these perceived threats and work on YOUR issues. Do not just deal with these issues with apathy and indifference as “that’s just how it is though, isn’t it?” No. It isn’t. You don’t have to fight it in an attempt to make it go away. I just ask that you acknowledge it – say it, vocalise exactly what it is and call it out. Do not push it under the carpet.
This is my mission for this year’s International Womxn’s Day.