This has taken me two months to publish. It has sat in my draft box for so long mainly because I thought I didn’t have the words to convey the depths of my gratitude, the highs of my joy and the source of my sorrow. And, to be honest, I didn’t think anyone would want to read it. But here it is. From the heart. Dedicated to those I shared the experience with, to those who never had the chance, to those who helped me get there (you know who you are), and to those who I know will rise again.
I have spoken before about how one of the hardest thing for me to deal with during my time with the torturer was my disconnection from women. Self-imposed exile as it was, it was a source of immense pain.
I truly love women.
I hadn’t really appreciated exactly how much. Or understood exactly how much we need each other, and that females are each other’s life-force. Literally. This love is visceral, and inhabits me with deep and abiding passion. Some days, reading and hearing about women who are being exploited, oppressed, or otherwise hurt is overwhelming, and I need to take a break from the internet, switch off the television, and bury my head in a pillow. Some days, all I want to do is embrace every woman on this planet and clutch them to my breast, snarling at anyone who would dare harm us. I feel like I would die for women. And yes, I know how dramatic that sounds, but this is my truth.
Nothing is more nourishing to me than time spent in women-only space. The opportunities for that are rare and precious. The opportunities to gather publicly (as opposed to privately, in each other’s homes) shrink each year as men (and their supporters who would ignore female-set boundaries on the basis that they claim to “feel like a woman”) gain influence in the public sphere, and invade every last corner of our hard fought-for spaces. Even though every day, most of the world and half the sky moves aside to let them to the table, they want nothing less than our complete colonisation. Nothing less than to rob us of our words and thus our ability to describe our material reality as human beings born into the class “female” – our very real biology, and the uncontroversial evidence of the consequences of that. I know of no other group that seeks human rights while at the same time robbing others of their ability to describe their condition. None. When my daughter was born, I wept. Wept with joy that my body had given me a tiny human being with whom I will forever be connected with, and also pain at knowing some of the path that would be marked out for her in a world that revolves around men and their whims. Yes, I see you men. I have seen you for a very long time. From the fumbling in my knickers at four years old as I sat on my great-uncle’s knee, to the hands round my neck when I refused to call the torturer “she”. I spent a lifetime dodging, accommodating, excusing, and hiding from your violence. No more. I’m a straight up “NOT OVER MY DEAD BODY” refusnik to the cult of the dick.
So I went to Michfest.
And it was glorious.
And now I “get”, at a heart level, what Mary Daly was on about when she spoke about be-coming, and the exorcism and ecstasy of breaking through what she names as the “Male Maze”.
There are few words I can think of that capture what it was like to be swept up into female be-ing. To feel myself unfold and blossom. To Rise. And there are lots of achingly beautiful blogs out there that have captured the experience far better than I ever could…
It makes me heartsick to think of how for years this event, this gathering of female souls, this *intention* that this be a space where females find respite from the brutalities that hurt and diminish us from birth, where we find ourselves in each other, where we bond and nurture and grow our selves, where we spin and weave a new be-ing, where we are seen, where little girls run free in the woods, where women are welcomed home, where radical self-acceptance is possible, where the sweat and toil of females who built a community from scratch each year for forty years will be no more. Lisa Vogel’s message to us was that we must go forward and create those spaces in our own back yards, that we are an unstoppable force of our own creation, and that we can rise again. And again.
So I have a message to all of you (be you men who colonise “woman”, or their many helpmates) who worked so hard to spread your lies and false songs of oppression against the Michigan Womyns Music Festival, who rejoiced at the sorrow of women who spent forty years of their life dedicated to creating a space each year for the sole purpose of uplifting females and opening doors into an understanding of exactly what we are and where we come from, and who petitioned and lobbied and threatened and boycotted and hated and hated and hated…
You have not won
We may temporarily no longer have a land to gather each year, to raise our girls and show them the joy of being female, to celebrate our elders, to love and nourish and tend to each and every one of us, to revel in our female diversity, but we have something a lot more dangerous. A collective memory. And a love that never dies – for each other, for our shared intention.
We are the dandelion seeds in your manufactured lawn. We are the itch you just can’t ever quite reach. We are your worst nightmare. Because we know exactly what we are and where we come from.