It’s March 8th. International Women’s Day. I’ve been wearing red, leaving my work alone and taking it easy with a good friend. We’ve been talking about our role as women and our life experiences.
Especially as we have daughters, nieces and friends with grand-daughters. I guess you could say we are women of a certain age. Reflecting on life as it’s happened to us. And trying to put some context around why International Women’s Day is very important to us. I’ve been a supporter of the White Ribbon Campaign for a long time. I do feel that humanity needs a fundamental shift concerning the way 50% of the species is treated. Women’s lives are shaped, diverted and perverted in so many ways by the views men hold of us.
So a fundamental shift in men’s attitudes is a necessity too. It’s not enough though to expect men to change. I believe that women also have to change. I know that it can be very hard as a woman to combat the social pressures, the conditioning, that defines how we are supposed to be and behave. A women’s right to live her life her way can only start if she claims that right. That’s what I need to do. Because my daughter will see that it’s ok to do so. And she can start to claim her right to live the way she wants to as well. You could say I’m on a mission. Taking small steps to make a change where I can.
It started when I’d finally had enough of being invisible. How can a person be invisible? I’m solid. I fill up space. And I move, walk, talk. Yet it’s as if no one sees me. If I am invisible how can my voice be heard?
I have spent most of my life moderating my voice. Women cannot speak harshly. We must be soft and calm. Women cannot make demands. We must ask politely and respectfully. Women cannot be angry or upset. We must speak only lovingly, supportively and kindly. Our words must appease, smooth over or defer to the voices of men. Most of all my voice must wait until all the men present have finished having their say. In this way I must accept being dismissed, marginalised and trivialised. No wonder I have become invisible.
So much so that if I say I find some comment or behaviour unacceptable I risk being belittled. Told that it’s only a joke. Or to lighten up. Or, worst of all, being ignored completely. The hardest thing of all is that I am not alone. Comparitively few women have managed to be heard. Never mind listened to and understood. In all of our creative spheres men lead the way as the role model to be followed. Men are awarded many more accolades than women. They set the benchmark against which all women’s endeavours are measured. And usually found wanting.
Even my passion for words is watered down by the kind of writing women are expected to do. Our books have to fit with the masculine notions of what is acceptable for women. And that is the point of my mission.
I have a strong voice. I have strong views. Writing them down can bring them to a wider audience. I am not afraid to express my feelings in language that women will understand in their hearts. So I want to encourage every woman to find her voice. To write so she can hear herself. And to share her voice with other women. It doesn’t have to be a best selling novel. Or a perfect piece of prose. Sharing a story helps bring to light the prejudice and fear of women’s lives. As well as the courage, passion and tenacity of living and loving. I am a creative force. If I write I can encourage others to reconsider their world view. Women have powerful stories to share. What’s yours?
Day 471 of my blogging challenge.