Sunday Morning ~ Women’s Voices
Palima n’pa mimba, khasu la Cidambo. ~ The power to cultivate comes from eating, the hoe of Cidambo gets strength from eating.
~ Chewa proverb
July 17, 2022
I’ve been thinking about what feeds us. In a literal sense the war in Ukraine demonstrates the ramifications of disrupting global food supplies, Climate change is doing the same. Today, I am thinking of what feeds our souls and how stories can be that nourishment. Often powerful, they can be a catalyst for change.
When teaching, I begin class with a writing exercise. Each student writes a short story about themselves relating to the topic we are about to discuss. This is a quick exercise, usually five or six minutes, and I write as well. When the timer goes off we read these stories aloud. The stories are not critiqued or graded, there are no rules to comply with except to write. I use this exercise to have students practice telling their stories, and give everyone else practice listening to them without judgement. It also gives some context to the topic we are about to discuss. Many don’t learn to tell of their lives or experiences. Shame, unworthiness, futility are all barriers for people, especially women, to tell their stories in their own voices. So, women’s lives have been framed by the men surrounding them. I think of how this has evolved and how it led to the country we now inhabit.
Jesus was surrounded by strong women throughout his short life. Yet, Catholicism is an outlier in organized religion idolizing Mary. I would so love to know her story through her voice. What would we understand about how women of that era viewed their lives? What if Mary had twelve female apostles to write her gospels? Did they think being stoned was a little unfair? Did they gather to talk about how to change the system? Did they imagined a world two thousand years hence interested in them, their lives, their stories? I imagine how their stories would have changed the course of history. Instead, men told women’s stories through men’s eyes, giving themselves starring roles and relegating women to supporting actress at best. This eternal stage was set.
When stories are told from the female experience, let’s take for example…Cassidy Hutchinson, men tend to spin these stories when they don’t come off looking so great. There seems to be no end to the air time given their rebuttal. When that doesn’t work in their favor they begin discrediting her. It’s almost as if men think they can behave however they wish, with deceit, violence, or immaturity, then rewrite the story to make themselves look good. Same old, same old.
The Weinsteins and Trumps of the world have been able to kill women’s stories describing the monsters they are. If that doesn’t work they kill the women themselves. Eventually though, a woman finds the strength, support, and opportunity to kick the bottom card in the house. Other women find their voices. They feed each other. They grow stronger. They build each other up. They knock down walls. Women bring the monster down.
I watched Cassidy Hutchinson, threatened by angry powerful men, stand up for truth, showing all of us what courage and integrity looks like. Of course, she probably has twenty-four hour protection now, which most women with abusive partners aren’t likely to get anytime soon, but we saw; we heard. We can build on that. Women will not go back. Black lives will never not matter again. Women will not go back to living compromised lives endangered for the pleasure of men. This will not happen.
There are men in my life who’ve thanked me for making them think about how they have benefited from our system and how unfair it is to women. And there are men in my life who are threatened by what I write and assign blame. I’m not surprised. It’s not easy to share the power and advantage they’ve enjoyed for so long. But, like I told my kids growing up, if you can’t learn to share, you will lose it.
I have been thinking about this since the court majority awakened several million sleeping dragons. Current injustices perpetuated by men must be attended to. Knowing a woman was among them makes me wonder what she might write of her own story should she escape her cult of men. Compliance can mean survival. I want women to tell their stories and open a path for other women to tell theirs. What is done to us without our consent, rewards others reap from our efforts, consequences we bear alone, it’s all a story with value and meaning. It will shape the next two thousand years. It nourishes others and makes them strong. What if every woman wrote about abuse she has suffered by some prominent man? I wonder what that would do to solve this little problem of DENYING BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS TO WOMEN!
I saw a meme that said: Write like the ghosts of all the women in history who weren’t allowed to write are standing next to you wondering what a laptop is and why you’re still in your pajamas. I love this. I wonder if Cassidy Hutchinson was channeling Ann Hutchinson, a midwife, who had a little problem with male authority in the1600’s. She was banished for overstepping her place as a woman. It was feared she’d inspire other women to speak out. Let’s be like Ann Hutchinson, with a laptop.
Love to all,