Women’s Liberation and I came of age in the 1970’s, after women had begun meeting in consciousness raising circles and discovered that sisterhood is powerful and how clever it’s been of the patriarchy to separate and thereby keep us under their thumb. Women had already decided to burn their bras and then decided to go out and get new ones and put them back on. It was already expected that girls would of course go to college and choose a career and leave their fathers’ house and join the work force instead of immediately creating a new one with a husband and all that came with him. I watched, still too young to join the fray, as women put on ruffled neckwear (a feminine tie), and a blazer (a feminine suit jacket), and got hired in jobs that paid way less for the same work as their male counterparts. They discovered the system to be rigged against them as a gender, but they were unwilling to gripe too loudly about it because they didn’t want to lose whatever footing they’d managed to gain.
The next decades brought incremental advances for both of us. We became emboldened by the reemergence of the Divine Feminine, the Great Mother Goddess, in the late 1980’s. This spiritual shift strengthened the Women’s Movement and it strengthened me. Once we realized that another narrative existed before the ubiquitous creation story that cast us in the role of weakling and bringer of original sin, a whole host of other identities were available to try on: Mother of All Life to name just one. As time went on and we reclaimed our womanly power as sensitives, as nurturers, as inclusives, and it dawned on us that these were our strengths, not our weaknesses, that these qualities were once revered not reviled, our personal power flourished. We took options never considered before and left marriages and partnerships that displeased us, we stopped believing we were nothing more than our pretty little heads, we found we were strong enough to support ourselves and our children if necessary, despite the punishment we took for it. We began to see that our bodies are precious, as precious as the body of the earth. We took back the night, learned to say no, recognized guilt as a strategy used to keep us down, and in releasing it, started popping up everywhere. On Boards, on benches, in beds. In courts, in couples, as candidates.
These changes in our experience as women came in waves. The rising of new awareness’s followed by the ebb of integration. The swelling of bolder actions followed by the settling of its effects. The cresting of changes followed by the undertow of unraveling the status quo. And still, in many ways, we kept our disheartening experience of misogyny to ourselves, our daily, systemic, insidious experience, our constant need to protect ourselves from predators, to calculate for our safety, to pretend emotionlessness, in order to hold whatever ground we’d managed to garner.
This latest wave, the one we are riding now, is a tidal, a breaker, a surge so strong our tongues will no longer swallow our truth. Our courage is catching and we are welcoming the infection, taking up the charge. No longer fearful of losing our footing, for our feet are steadfast on the ground of our own becoming, becoming sovereign, we are calling out the intolerable that we have endured. We are swiping off our shame like seaweed we will no longer allow to cling to ourselves. We are tattle tales at last, in detail, the telling of the terrible. Voices like the roar of the surf. Pounding out the truth.