I am humbled to have been invited to perform some spoken word at the second annual CHIMO Our Voices Against Violence conference.
I want to take a few moments to talk about my experience at this event.
If you want to tell me there is no need for feminism and instead we should call it “humanism” you can go ahead and stop reading this post right now because there is no point in debating with who is pretending to be asleep. The oppression of women exists in our society even if your privilege makes you blind to it. It’s quite simple. By calling it humanism you erase the history, the pain and the movement of women gaining power- the same way there has been some erasing of “Feminist and women studies” in universities to be replaced with “Gender studies”. Gender studies is an awesome thing, but not the equivalent. Until there is no reason for a feminist movement, until equality is the only possibility in the world- there will be space for dialogue specifically about women and to not group that together with humans, gender or sex equity.
I think that a lot of people are aware that violence against women is something that exists and that feminism exists, but I don’t think that there is a clear idea in a lot of people of what exactly this means.
I heard some dark stories at the conference and some messages of hope. If I took anything away from all of the brutality that was brought in front of my eyes, it’s this: women are oppressed systemically in our current society all around the world. Individual acts of rape, abuse, manipulation, torture and other forms of violence are directly linked to a patriarchy. If the abuser is white man doing it don’t worry it’s not because of “mental health” or “substance abuse”- it’s patriarchy. If it is literally any other cultural artificial classification it is not because of “oh that’s just their heritage”- it is a universal patriarchy. We need to stop thinking of attacks like this as one on an individual but rather one on the society as a whole. I do not at all mean this in a way to lessen the effects of what happens to women or categorize that, unique experiences are all different entities with different complexities, consequences and lives at stake. What happens to these individuals happens to our world. There is not an actual separation from the sexism that happens in The United States for example- and what we have here. This is all the same problem. This is the world as a whole. Pinning situations like this on small groups, small people makes everything seem like a small issue, a one time occurrence- not for what it really is: a prescribed way of thinking.
That being said when it comes to empowering women, women are the greatest obstacle for each other a lot of the times and it is not men that bring women down. If you see women having success, do not be cruel. Do not try to undo or objectify someone to make their work seem elementary. Cheer for them as if they are your own if you are a woman. Cheer for them if you are not. Envy or fear have no place in this. Believe your friends and other women and be there for them.
Men have a low bar set in society, an unfair representation of actuality, there is a belligerent idea that all men are rapists or dumb little boys incapable of feeling anything beyond the desire for sex and all white men are incapable of empathy. Living in a patriarchy poisons men’s perception of what reality is and how others see them as much as it poisons women.
I believe most people are good. I believe most men are good.
There is no reason to point fingers, blame and categorize any group for the direction the world is going. There is no point in having useless debates with people that don’t think feminism is necessary. This is an issue of our capability as humans not as single individuals. An act of violence against a woman is a crime against humanity.
If you want to hear the poem I performed it’s here: