I have always struggled with the word ‘feminist’ – the way it has been twisted to imply a woman who is a man-hater, butch-lesbian, and femi-nazi, among other things. I’ve been reluctant to call myself a feminist because I have struggled with the interpretation.
But lately, I have been angry.
I’ve been angry at the way women continue to be mistreated, discriminated against, abused. And I’ve been angry to have been the victim of these things myself, both in the past and more recently, at the hands of men.
And so I have spoken out loud. Not because I am a man-hater, butch-lesbian or femi-nazi. But because more than ever, I am passionate about justice for women, equality, freedom from oppression and the right for women to live in safety without fear of abuse.
I have embraced being a feminist because I now understand what this means to me in my life, and in the lives of all the women I stand in solidarity with.
But today I realised something.
This isn’t just a fight against the way men treat women.
Sadly, this is also a fight against the way women treat women.
I realised this as I was once again publicly slandered by other women. Not for my thoughts or opinions, not for the things I choose to stand up for, not for what I write about. But for who I am. Hateful comments by vicious, cut-throat women who strive to bring another woman down, who take delight in tearing another woman to shreds in their need to prove themselves.
And again, I am angry, and I don’t understand. I don’t understand how we can continue to do this to each other. We fight for our right to be treated better by men, we demand our respect, to be treated justly and fairly, and yet as women we then negate all that we work towards in the way we choose to treat each other.
It shouldn’t be this. It shouldn’t be women pitted against women, seeking to hurt, to destroy, to tear down. How will we ever empower our gender when we are fraught with bitterness, jealousy, comparison and hate toward one another?
Today I cried. I cried for me, and I cried for the way I see women hurt other women. For the nastiness of our hearts, for the gossip, the slander, the rumours, the lies, the hate. We do so much damage to our precious souls.
All over the world women are fighting to be free of the damage they have endured at the hands of the men who have hurt them. More than anything, they need a safe place. They need women they can turn to, women who will offer them a place of rest and safety no matter what they have done, how many mistakes they have made, how greatly they have fallen and failed.
Women who offer them love, not judgement.
We are the nurturers, the healers, the empaths. The ones who share the same heart. We carry within us compassion, forgiveness, understanding, grace, mercy, tenderness.
The feminist heart should be a heart of unison, of strength, and power, and beauty.
The fight should never be against one another, but for one another.
To uplift one another, uphold one another, heal one another, carry one another’s burdens.
When you see another woman who is broken, weak, damaged and hurting, pick her up. Hold her in your arms and bandage her wounds. Allow your strength to become her strength. Show her the grace once shown to you.
Give her the chance to become all she can be rather than prove to her all she is not.
Our fight for justice and equality is already hard enough without having to fight against one another.
Dear woman, please, it starts with you.