Unlearning who we’re not.
Many years ago, I wrote a piece about the correlation between race and gender. In sum, it addressed a nagging question: when I encounter a stranger, which aspect of me do they notice first – the fact that I am female or the fact that I am black? Both are unapologetically obvious.
This 2012 discourse may perhaps serve as either a continuation or an extension of that previous one.
Now in my forties, a time that is commonly recognized as a jolt for women, certainly at a hormonal level, I explore the essence of being a woman from an entirely different perspective. My story is no longer an individual one. Rather it is universal.
Since the time of my ancestors, we’ve seen women take on increasingly responsible roles in areas such as business and politics and receive tremendous and well-deserved accolades. Yet still, the aspect of life—i.e., where we are biologically destined to bring forth life and nurture—has largely been taken for granted by both men and women. Does this not deserve the greatest acknowledgement – above and beyond structures whose very nature is temporary and fleeting?
As we witness the collapse of world economies, is it [again] not the women we are witnessing—who, rather than falling prey to the inevitable, are honing their creative skills to ensure that their families are fed amidst the chaos?
In a recent survey poll, Jamaica—the land of my birth—ranked 6th in the world for women working in skilled jobs. At the University of the West Indies Mona campus, it is reported that two-thirds of the graduates in recent years are female. We even boast a female Prime Minister.
Here in Africa where I presently live and work, women are the bent over backbones in most countries. Within the world of development, micro-financing is booming. Why? This is primarily because most of its “investees” are women, who are known to have a 98% better pay back rate than men.
And in societies considered civilized and developed, increasingly women are opting to by-pass the patriarchal conventional path of marriage, instead choosing—debatable to a point—to remain single and instead shower themselves with self-love by healing and rediscovering themselves through various avenues such as yoga.
Aspects of my life intertwine all three of the above given examples.
One thing that I’ve certainly come to realize is that nowhere on this planet is being a woman taken for granted. Yet—consciously or unconsciously—through our actions or lack thereof, we undermine our power and self-worth.
Power and might as we’ve been conditioned to understand it, is reserved largely for the male species. To counteract this we’ve alluded ourselves into manipulative tactics such as “being a lady in public and a whore in bed,” which invariably leaves us leading schizophrenic, inauthentic lives.
Why can’t we be who we want to be, who we are destined to be?
In resignation, some of us may be tempted to shrug our shoulders and say “it’s a man’s world.” I refuse to believe this any longer as the mounting evidence that I am surrounded by attests to the contrary.
As a person of color I might still well be enslaved if I’d accepted a similar fate. Clearly this road is not perfect but at least it’s been cut and we’re making immense strides that we must celebrate!
International Women’s Day is only a brief pause in the liberation of our cause.
As women, it is up to us to join hands in solidarity, step forward and claim our rightful place on the human spectrum. I seriously doubt that it will ever be handed to us – either on a platter or in a brown paper bag!
Increasingly on my own path, one that is deeply carved through my commitment to living yoga—both on and off the mat—I am releasing myself from various shackles and labels that I’ve been tagged with. Un-learning who we are not isn’t a road that’s lined with rose petals either. Along it I’ve encountered boulders of stumbling blocks, prickly nails; murky waters and a pile of stinking garbage. Some of this I may have created myself, having not known otherwise.
Humanity has entered an era where the proverbial walls are crumbling and it is evident that old tactics and mind-games are outmoded and ineffective. Bearing this fact in mind…
How do you see yourself? How do you wish to show up in the world?
I’m choosing empowered and empowering, effective and effecting.
“I envision a world where we honor the women, love the children and always remember the men.”
~ Danica Anderson
And so it is.
Editor: Andrea B.