My heart, such a blue, bruised, tight little ball in survival mode on Friday, has been warmed, replenished, and reopened this weekend by the outpouring of women’s voices and women’s marches — not just in our own nation’s capital, but the whole world over. Seeing my sisters spilling out of their homes and into the annals of history has been a beautiful, beautiful thing.
Women have always been my heroes and my leaders. I come from a matriarchal family, where the women are strong and outspoken and they get the job done. My aunts and grandmother showed me – after sixteen years of living beneath the shadow of misogyny and the dominance of patriarchy in a cult cut straight out of the cloth of the caveman days – that women are a pretty, big deal. They showed me that we can speak up and we can speak out. And what we say matters. And how we feel matters. And what we need matters. My matriarchs taught me that we can and should stand up against injustice – alone or together. Either way, we are a force to be reckoned with. On Saturday, that force rose together in tsunami fashion – a storm surge that flooded the streets of cities across the globe with a moral mission to preserve and advance the rights of women and other minorities whose voices are being threatened, whose rights are on the chopping block. I am so proud to be a woman.
I always have been. I’ve never, ever wished I were a man. Being female is the greatest. I love almost everything about it. I love dressing up. I love smelling good. I love putting on make-up and curling my hair. I love soft, fuzzy sweaters and soft, fuzzy kittens. I love carrying babies – both in my arms and in my belly. I love chocolate kisses and passionate kisses, Disney princesses and the princes that come with them (although my favorites are definitely the most recent ones – where the princesses orchestrate their own rescues and the princes play supporting roles). I love the color pink and big, white wedding gowns. I love rainbows and unicorns, peace signs and freshly baked cookies. All of these things fill me with warm fuzzies, as do romantic comedies and super bowl commercials. I get all the feels almost all the time. I don’t see that as a character flaw or a genetic glitch. Just because I’m soft, doesn’t mean I’m soft. And just because I’m soft-spoken doesn’t mean my voice can’t or shouldn’t be heard.
Yes, I embrace all my girly girl traits, but just because I love being a girl doesn’t mean I love everything that comes with the territory. Period cramps and labor pains bite. And glitter and leopard prints can go back to the ridiculous drawing board that first designed them. High heels hoover and handbags are too high priced. But the thing I hate most about being a woman is the disrespect and condescension that is served up from people – male and female alike — who refuse to recognize and appreciate a woman’s worth as equal to a man’s. Which leads me to my most-despised term in the English language: Ladylike. Them’s just fighting words.
But this weekend, we brought our fighting herds, which is what I choose to focus on during this oh-so-inspirational inaugural weekend. Yes, inspirational. And no, not due to an orange man in a white house. Nope. The inspiration comes from the outpouring of support by and for Womanhood, the subject that has most profoundly shaped who I am today, how I live today, how I love today and even why I am today.
I use the word SUBJECT here with absolute intent and purpose. As an English teacher, I teach sentence structure and semantics. I know the importance of word order and connotation. In grammar, the subjects are in control of their sentences. They are the ones doing and the ones being. They own and they control. For centuries and centuries – for entire histories – the subjects that are doing the doing, the owning and the controlling, have been men.
Objects – direct objects, indirect objects,…SEX objects – they are not in control. They are not doing and they are not being. For centuries and centuries – for entire histories – women have been the objects that were owned and controlled. We were wives or mistresses or prostitutes. We were the objects of sentences written by a patriarchy.
But we women have made tremendous progress in rewriting our destinies. We are currently at the highest point in our grammatical and sexual evolution. Not all of us, but many of us, are the subjects of our own sentences. We own and are in control of our options. Our decisions. Our bodies. Our lives. Our selves.
And this weekend, we poured onto the streets to protect and advance our rights. Do not doubt us. Do not denigrate us. Do not sandbag us, or coddle us or condescend us. Do not fault us or foul us or fabricate lies about us. Do not undermine us. Do not underestimate us. Because, as Maya Angelou prophesied in her poetic call to action:
Out of the huts of history’s shame, we rise…
up from a past that’s rooted in pain, we rise…
we are the black ocean, leaping and wide,
welling and swelling, we bring in the tide.
I am living in a heart-wrenching time to be a woman, but it is also a heartwarming time to be a woman. Yesterday, as Gloria Steinem said, we saw the upside of the downside. We saw women by the millions taking to the streets in support of autonomy and equality. In DC, in Austin, in L.A.; in Atlanta and Nashville and Chicago and Nome. In Berlin and Rome and Sydney; in London and Dublin and Ipanema — and even the Antarctic peninsula — we rose up and we roared. 673 marches across the globe, we rose in a sister solidarity to connect continents, challenge conventions, and change policy. And it won’t end there. We will continue to rise for as long as there is terror and fear and injustice and inequality.
For as long as these evils exist, We Will Continue to Rise.