Feminism

lift each other up

I had a vision a few years ago, while in a Kundalini yoga class. It wasn’t like an other-wordly revelation or anything, just an image that came into my head as we were in the meditation portion of the class. It was an image that simultaneously felt so profoundly truthful, while making little logical sense.

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I was moved to write a letter to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford during her testimony and subsequent questioning, on Thursday, September 26, 2018. I wrote this letter after she left the hearing, in the early afternoon, and sent it to her, in care of her lawyer. I am so glad that I wrote this before I saw the second half of the hearing — because it’s a capsule in time of what I felt after seeing her part of the day. Things certainly shifted after that, and have many times since.

Friday night, September 28th, I pulled together a Solidarity Gathering at South Church in Portsmouth, NH. I was compelled to hold space for everyone feeling like they needed community. Only a few people showed up, but many more expressed gratitude for knowing that it was happening at all. It felt important, urgent. It was totally necessary for me. We lit candles, we shared our stories, we shared our feelings, we talked about how we could change our culture from perpetuating the dangerous circumstances that make situations like these all too common. It was healing.

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The word “feminist” is on my business card. Not as a title I’m using to define myself, but because it’s in the name of my business. Even with its recent rise to acceptance in mainstream popular culture, the word “feminist” still prompts startled reactions most times I hand someone my card. Since I’m so frequently reminded of the baggage of this word, I’m also increasingly aware of my responsibility to define, and demonstrate by my actions, what I mean when I use the word “feminist.”

Feminist theorist bell hooks (no, the lowercase of her name isn’t a typo – she consciously declines to capitalize her name in favor of putting the emphasis on her ideas) defines feminism as “a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression.” Defining feminism as a commitment to end oppression is notable in that it is not (as it is sometimes misperceived to be) seeking to reverse it. Taking power from one group and giving it to another doesn’t solve the problem – it simply perpetuates domination and systemic injustice.

Feminist poet Audre Lorde wrote, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.” The goal of a hooks and Lorde kind of feminist movement is to dismantle systemic power structures altogether in favor of equity for everyone – all genders, all identities.

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