Sunday, March 05, 2017

International Women's Day

Still Running with the Wolves
Photo by T. Fitch / concept by G. Cornwall, September 2016

I couldn't have been more than seven or eight when I pulled a David Carradine and kung fu kicked the adult front tooth clean out of the mouth of a teenage neighbour boy for sneering at me and telling me I wasn't supposed to be playing in my own fenced-in backyard without a shirt on because I was a girl and girls, after all, were inappropriate at any age if they were found playing, shirtless.

I had already had enough of being made different by others for not doing what was expected of me and not looking as I was expected to look as a girl. Of course, by that age, I had already experienced numerous sexual assaults so I already had a "gloves off" attitude toward males by eight years old. Self-defence was my only recourse in that age of "don't tell" and I felt I would have been blamed and shamed had I told. The one time I did tell as a child, it did not serve me well. Admittedly, my violence toward this particular teenage boy stemmed out of my fear and frustration from previous attacks. He took the result of all of my pent up rage at being ridiculed for something so pure and simple as playing outside with the pleasure of the warmth of the summer sun on my child's chest.

Flash forward almost fifty years. The erosion, the constant wearing away and demeaning of my pure spirit, my strong and good woman's body, the body that still gets the once over on the days I wear my jeans and check shirt rather than one of my dresses or skirts and dare to enter the public restroom, is still happening. It never stopped happening. The barrage of comments and the threat I've been to others through my very existence persists. The insult of my way of being, felt by many males, keeps my existence under constant threat of violence and my behaviour checked for fear of repercussion.

I cannot count the number of times when I identified as a woman who loves women that I was told, "What a waste," the number of times I have told my truth of being flashed, beaten, intimidated and discriminated against and lost out on employment because of how I was born, only to be met with an eye roll or "You need to let go of it," or "Oh, just get over it," never having it acknowledged as unconscionable damage and trauma that needs a federal apology because we have not been treated with the common decency the human rights act should provide. Where is our damn apology let alone compensation for the price we have paid physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially?!

Is it better now?
Yeah, some. Is it perfect? Hell, no. Does it need to be made right with the truths told and heard and an apology made? Damn right it does!

 None of us are less than for the way we are made. We should be held up in our difference and loved for our unique way of seeing without having to mutilate our bodies and spirits to fit in.

Many colourful threads woven together make strong cloth.

Men, if a woman doesn't fit your idea of what a woman should be, get the hell over it. That should be your counselling bill, not hers. Get over your entitlement to every woman's body and way of being. It's 2017. We are neither your chattels nor your puppets. Learn. Grow. Challenge yourselves to be better and to do better.

Women. Do what you do for you. Don't buy into the BS. If we stand together, it will aid our freedom. Your beauty has its strength and truth in your spirit, not in the way you are viewed by men.

You are love, just as you are. You are equal to your power as life-bringers, protectors and teachers. The man behind the curtain with all of the perceived power is a brute, a liar and a coward.

The cost to me for a lack of basic human rights protections has been epic. So don't tell me, "oh, isn't it great now," because: a) it's not that great and b) there needs to be, at minimum, a national apology for the harm done. 

Even the act of writing this is another risk to my well-being and so many people will just say that we should be quiet and hide ourselves so no more bad happens, but it is just not true. Bad things will happen anyway, but healing cannot begin until the truth is spoken, heard and acknowledged by the perpetrators and that means everyone who stands by, unscathed and silent, complicit. 

I believe the stats indicate one in three women are victims of violence; however, I venture that, if one woman is harmed, we are all harmed. If you have been harmed, please reach out to professional resources near you. There are worldwide organizations and local groups run by women for women to assist you. Please do all you can to stay connected and to know that it is not your fault and that you are deserving of love, a life of freedom and respect. 

March 8, 2017 is International Women's Day. #BeBoldForChange. Acknowledging this and using it as a day to learn, expand your views, challenge misogyny and inequality of the sexes (I will not say gender as that is just a social construct made up to enforce inequality). Use it as a launching point. Listen to women who have been harmed and acknowledge it without trying to wipe away the pain with a harmful phrase like "But isn't it better now?" Try using that phrase in your mind when you think of any systemic harm done. We MUST recognize what has come to pass for generations and own it in order to move forward in a good way. 

I hope you will use March 8 as a place from which to step forward in a good way - with recognition of what has happened and the harm it has done, what has changed, what we can do today to make positive change and what we want to do to make the future safer for every girl on her path to a healthy, strong, equal womanhood. 

-Gillian Cornwall, c. March 5, 2017


Boo said...

I am sorry. For the way you have been treated, for the suffering you have experienced, and for the lasting affect it has had on you. If I could help you heal, lessen the pain, or take the hand of that little girl, I would. For now, all I can do is send one apology from one person who loves you. Stay strong.

Cindy Player said...

How did I miss this the first time? You are a powerhouse my friend! You rock the world in the best way--with your words, with your feelings, with your action. We seldom know what lies beneath the surface of so many people around us. But listening can open up our own damage, our own power and righteous anger. Don't ever stop! sending love and respect to you xo