***Author’s Note: In August 2014, a piece was published on elephant journal titled, “This Is For the Women Who Don’t Give a F*ck.” That piece was the spark that inspired my words below, and for that, I am grateful.
I honor the women.
I honor the women who howl at the moon, and I honor those who bow their heads in silent reverence instead.
I honor the women who are loud with their words and also those who don’t feel they need to be loud in order to be heard—those who know that the wisest ones speak softly or do not speak at all.
I honor the women who call themselves fearless and those who are full of fear but also full of courage—the ones who rise above fear—the ones who speak the truth even when their voice shakes.
I honor the women who understand that feminism is about choice—about choosing to be a mother or not to be a mother, to be a CEO or not to be a CEO, to have many lovers or one lover-for-life or no lover at all.
I honor the women who respect that there is nothing wrong with a white picket fence—if that is what a woman chooses—the women who don’t consider other women to be inferior (less fun, less free, less fierce) simply because they have made different choices.
I honor the women who hold others accountable for their mistakes, but also hold themselves accountable when they are at fault—the ones who understand that accountability is important, but that forgiveness (of self and of others) is infinitely more important.
I honor the women who realize that it’s not all about them—that the world is built on interconnection and that every action creates ripples in the fabric of life itself.
I honor the women who respect their perfect, precious vaginas, and the women who treat themselves like the goddesses they are—but I also honor those who don’t, because they have been told their entire lives that being a woman means being “second best” and that to “play like a girl” is to play weak.
I honor the women who have explored their sexuality and accept themselves as glorious sexual beings—and I honor the women who haven’t explored their sexuality, because it has never been safe for them to do so.
I honor the women who value their own worth and those who aren’t sure they have any worth at all.
I honor the black women, the Muslim women, the indigenous women, the trans women, the poor women, the homeless women, the abused women, the women who have a voice but whose voice has been muffled for decades upon decades upon decades—the ones who are rarely represented in media and government—the ones who must ceaselessly fight against the marginalization imposed upon them.
I honor the women who don’t give up.
And I honor the women who do give up—the ones whose spirits have been crushed and the ones who have been beaten down one time too many.
I honor the women who work tirelessly to protect the earth and her earthlings, and I honor those who don’t, because they are too busy working two jobs to put enough food on the table to feed their families.
I honor the privileged women who not only acknowledge their privilege, but actively push back against the system that fosters it.
I honor the women who vote with their dollars, the women who know that change happens from the ground up and who get down on their knees and dig in the mud—the ones who put their actions where their words are, and the ones who understand that we are all doing the best we can, with what we know and what we have, and that that is enough.
I honor the women who don’t vote with their dollars, because they simply can’t afford it.
I honor the women who, through their thoughts and words and deeds, revere the children (who will inherit the world) and the elders (upon whose shoulders they stand).
I honor the women who create—the ones who write and sing and dance and paint and knit and garden and mother, in brave and inspired ways.
I honor the women who recognize that it is their duty to give a damn—that it is necessary to give a damn—that there are too many people in this world who don’t give a damn, because they are too caught up in romanticizing the moment, the individual experience and the ego.
I honor the women who understand that in order to create a better world—one where there is justice, equality and freedom for all—we must exist in the present, but expand our awareness beyond the present (we must think of tomorrow), beyond the individual experience (we must consider others), beyond the ego (we must restore the heart to its rightful place as chief commander).
I honor the women who try to be perfect because they have never been taught that they are fabulous just as they are and those who don’t try to be perfect, but aim to be purposeful.
I honor the women who build bridges between the gaps that separate women from women and women from men—the ones who know that, despite our vast differences, we belong to one another.
I honor the women who are real, who are raw, who are able to walk in the world with a heart full of scars that declares:
Here I am. I am a bit tender, a bit scared, a bit unsure. But here I am, taking another breath, greeting another morning, walking another step in the direction of wholeness, of healing, and of love.
I honor the women who love—the ones who keep on loving this broken world and its broken people, because love is the force that fuels action.
I honor the women who, in time, learn to shamelessly own their stories—and those who never do, because shame is so deeply embedded in their bones.
I honor the women who sacrifice, the women who give, the women who grieve.
I honor the women who stand tall and proud and wild and free.
I honor the women who keep crawling forward on their bruised and blackened knees.
I honor the women.
Author: Vicki Rivard
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Camilla Albano, used with permission.