Pain, Progress and “Wo-Man”

Sherna Alexander Benjamin
Posted January 22, 2020 from Trinidad and Tobago

Pain touches our lives in so many ways and sometimes it begins to blind even the best of us, morphing us into something unrecognizable. Changing the way we think, breathe, believe and hope. We begin to see dim shadows of who we are and can become, embrace failure as a friend and then we begin to find comfort living in states of hurt and disappointment. Women experience deep levels of pain as a result of various life experiences. Pain runs on a continuum (mild, moderate to severe) and with it comes different levels of trauma. This trauma adds another layer contributing to women being viewed as weak inferior vessels and biological monstrosities of nature who need to be fixed or saved and we continue to endure the onslaught of global, national, community and family brutalization.

Patriarchal systems within every institution continue to target and undermine the humanity of women and girls enabling a culture of leaving us behind, and in many societies, women are seen as emotional wreaks who lack the innate ability to lead this ideology has found its way in every institution including the media skewing how women leaders are viewed. When women are called upon to take their rightful place as leaders, all eyes are turned on them to harshly criticize their every step. From the curls in their hair to the way, they cross their legs when sitting to the length of their skirts. Their intellect and experiences continue to be called into question with the aim of undermining women's confidence and their ability. And society sits on the sidelines and wait for the opportune moment to shout out "FAILURE"

Throughout history, women have been and continue to be dehumanized, silenced, sexually violated and treated as the human play toys of men. Varying ideologies about women and their existence enable the manifestation of varying acts of violence against women and violence in and of itself is an atrocity which runs on a continuum and is perpetrated against women of all ages, ethnicities, religions, social class, communities, educational abilities, and ableism.

The mere act of aggression and isolation against women are acts of violence,  yet these are accepted withing society due to socialization, power, dominant norms and the consequential effects of colonialism. #Colonialism is one of the greatest threats to the existence of women and girls and I say ‘is’ because it has not been eradicated it has ingeniously evolved because it is a way of thinking which finds itself into systems, structures and institutions and has roots in unequal power relationships across all spheres and women and girls have always been one of its main targets.

There is the premise that women are emotional beings and cannot lead if we feed into this we are simply saying that men are emotionless by nature (something science will refute), as such when they perpetuate and perpetrate hurt and violence against women those they see as needing justifiable manifestation of force to guide, discipline and correct natures defects as these defects contribute to the dysfunction of society and families bringing shame to men and their ideals. We can go a step further and say that because they (men) are void of emotions then the consistent manifestation of violence which they perpetrate against women and girls is justifiable. I am not going to debate this premise (one of many which exist and enable violence against women and girls) that would be for another time, I highlight it to show the absurdity in it and how this is sometimes used to enable men to think of themselves as the saviours of women and girls because being void of emotions makes them (men) think of themselves as being stronger, rightful leaders, more balanced and objective.

I certainly do not need a saviour because as a woman I was never lost – society and the systems and institutions which govern society gave the perception that I was lost to step in as a saviour and or punisher through patriarchy and matriarchy (the devastating effects of latter is for another topic). What I encourage is the idea of intentional progressive partnerships, partnerships between women and men to build better families, communities, nations and world. Partnerships which enable the peace, safety and security of women and girls.

The resiliency of Women to Recover

Women recover from various types of pain, hurt and trauma yet the consequences of these follow women throughout their life acting as fuel to make women better or bitter, advance or regress, bring them together in sisterhood or dividing them so they can be conquered. If the future is to be 'woman' we must work with the ideology of "Wo-Man". Sisters must stand in solidarity with each other across the globe, invest in each other to become leaders of legacy and pioneers to build a better world. Sometimes we believe that the cessation of individual acts of violence means the end of the short, medium and long-term impact of that violence and we hear many of our fellow sisters shouting "why are you still down, I endure violence and this is me standing today" this ideology enables the comparisons of support, experiences and progress. No one has the right to tell any woman “it’s time to get over it...it has way too many opportunities for them to still be left behind... if I can do it you can do it”. Every woman is unique and every act of violence is also unique though similarities may exist, and every support system is different and each woman has different internal and external strengths. As women and sisters, we must give a "hand-up and not hand-outs, we must support unconditionally and never compare our progress and experiences with others" If women can bear the violence, pain and trauma which is inflicted upon them then society and you as a fellow woman ought to face it and their progress in its most naked form. Allowing women to use their voices, pens, computers and presence to speak their truth, own their spaces, be educated and be present at decision-making tables to speak on policies and laws and programs which affect them.

Women recover from pain, hurt and trauma of broken hearts as a result of violence and infidelity within relationships through a betrayal of trust. When women trust their partners they place confidence in that partner not to hurt them, work with them to create safe spaces and safe relationships built on integrity, accountability, transparency, truth, responsibility and peace. Relationship spaces ought to make women feel accepted, belonged to, loved, appreciated, included, not judged based on their past or their ability to be vulnerable and spaces of gratitude. And safe relationship spaces that are guided by the principles of love. Yet men toy with infidelity with ease shattering women’s lives, hopes, livelihoods, dreams, ability to move forward and in many cases enabling women to erect walls that cannot be penetrated. Yet women recover and rebound because within every human being there is a desire to be authentically loved and to love takes courage. To hurt and embrace infidelity and violence (because infidelity is an act of emotional and psychological violence) is a manifestation of weakness, disrespect and the promotion of hurt for hurting people hurt people.

Women continue to recover from pain, hurt and trauma as a result of various acts of violence which are perpetrated against them across all spheres of life especially within the home and in intimate partner relationships. Within places of employment, as many are coerced and or forced into having sex with their bosses to keep their jobs, this spills over into academic institutions and this violence is rooted in unequal power relationships. Yet women recover.

Women recover from pain, hurt and trauma as a result of being denied an education using overt or covert methods a woman without education has fewer opportunities to advance as such oppression and subjugation rears its ugly head. Women recover from pain, hurt and trauma as a result of societal pressures which set out implicit and explicit rules to police women's bodies, behaviours and force them to conform to be accepted thus enabling stereotypes about the roles and expectations of women and blurs the lines of what it means to be a woman.

Women recover from pain, hurt and trauma as a result of clandestine consistent systematic oppressions which undermines the autonomy and agency of women’s mind, abilities and bodies. Women recover from the hurt and trauma of societal and institutional shaming and re-victimization after being sexually assaulted and speaking their truth. And women recover from the hurt and trauma of racism (what I call a social, religious, political, economic and academic construction rooted in unequal power relationships and unverified information about a person or group of people).

Pushing beyond the pain

Yet women continue to push for liberation and academic excellence in many cases without support. We still open our hearts to love and reciprocate the same. We stand boldly as positive disruptive agents challenging systems, institutions, dominant norms, ideologies about race and racism and we are speaking truth to POWER. We continue to get up after experiencing eight falls to go again, taking back ownership of our bodies and mind and setting the records straight as we challenge unverified information about ourselves and narratives which are being used to build ladders of oppression in society against us.

The pain which our enemies thought would Kill and subdue us is fashioning and moulding and enhancing our strengths. It is clear pain is being inflicted because we are feared the information is clear we are born leaders, educators, intellects and the stabilizing forces for families, corporations and relationships and our very existence show up the ineptitude of many of our male counterparts. Rather than work with and share power, men use “toxic relevance” rooted in fear manifesting actions to annihilate women and girls. Strange, the more we are violated and abused the more we increase and rise.

Belief in a Better world and hope in a better tomorrow for together we can build a better world

The existence of women and girls should not be seen as a war between the sexes but rather a wonderful opportunity to restore human dignity, grow together and become greater than our suffering, inadequacies and lack. But also an opportunity to learn from each other, protect each other and embrace inclusivity and diversity. Ultimately working to evolve ideologies about gender, sex and sexuality and constructing healthy dominant norms beyond our wildest imagination for the future is indeed “Wo-Man” a coming together of the sexes for active collaboration by two unique groups of people working together for the greater good of humanity, the environment and future generations and no doubt some of the greatest leaders for this future will be #Women. And I am committed to being one of them are you?

This story was submitted in response to Share On Any Topic.

Comments 10

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Anita Shrestha
Jan 22
Jan 22

Dear Sis
Thank you very much. Your this sentece is insightful for us.
women and girls should not be seen as a war between the sexes but rather a wonderful opportunity to restore human dignity, grow together and become greater than our suffering, inadequacies and lack

Thank you, Sister Anita,
For your wonderful feedforward. Too often gender equity and equality is seen as a war between the sexes. it is not, it is working towards inclusion, diversity and the restoration of human dignity so all peoples can live sustainable and dignified lives.

Wusufor
Jan 23
Jan 23

Anita honestly I felt in loved with this your amazing comment. I look forward to such inspiring comments from you.
Dear Sharna, this is very insightful post. You made my day when you said the enemies who thinks they are destroying don't know how rather they strengthening us.
"The pain which our enemies thought would Kill and subdue us is fashioning and moulding and enhancing our strengths. "
Words of wisdom. Thanks for sharing to inspired.
Warm regards

Hello, dear Sherna,

This is such an empowering post! Every paragraph is so full of powerful statements. I love how you honor every woman's journey by recognizing not everyone heals at the same time.

There are so many quotable messages here including this one, "Relationship spaces ought to make women feel accepted, belonged to, loved, appreciated, included, not judged based on their past or their ability to be vulnerable and spaces of gratitude. And safe relationship spaces that are guided by the principles of love. "

I heard you share your accomplishments during the Ambassador Call. I'm so proud of all the work you are doing, and congratulations on the milestones you've reached as a global leader. We are happy we can call you our sister. Thank you for being a champion for women!

Jill Langhus
Jan 24
Jan 24

Hello Dear Sherna,

How are you? It was lovely to see you yesterday and to hear about all your success in 2019. I hope all your goals and dreams come true for 2020, too:-) Thanks for sharing your deep thoughts on the suffering of women, but also the way forward. I totally agree with you that the way forward is co-mingling women and men for a more empowered, joyful, peaceful, prosperous future. We can do it, and, yes, I'm committed, too:-)

Hope you have a great weekend!

XX

lizzymark
Jan 24
Jan 24

Hi sis,so lovely "Believe in a better world and hope in a better tomorrow" this is the reason women are still here. I can here all your hopes and determination to still go on. We will get there as we all move on together. Thanks dear for shearing and pouring out

Tamarack Verrall
Jan 24
Jan 24

Dear Sherna,
I love your call for "working to evolve ideologies about gender, sex and sexuality and constructing healthy dominant norms beyond our wildest imagination for the future". I love and depend on the chance to read forward thinking analysis such as this from you, of what we are up against, reminders that all forms of oppression are built into this patriarchal and colonial system: "perpetrated against women of all ages, ethnicities, religions, social class, communities, educational abilities, and ableism", and that each of these affects how we heal and find our strength. It is so true that ongoing violence against women and girls in its many forms are meant to keep us from being able create the visionary change you also describe so beautifully. Yes, a world that can be beautiful beyond our wildest dreams. The brilliance of women and the strength of women throughout time has been hidden from us and all to often still beaten out of us. But now, together we are naming the truth of what is behind all this violence, and raising our ever stronger collective voices for, yes, the future you describe here.
Standing with arms linked in commitment dear sister,
Tam

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi

Hi Sherna,
Hope you are well my dear sister. Thank you so much for your post. As usual your posts are always captivating. It is true that there is always hope for tomorrow and we have to march forth.
Have a lovely day.

Conny Shamu
Feb 01
Feb 01

I love your story.
Thank you for sharing this with us , so much proud of you.
Women and girls are strong and have a voice too.

hugs Conny

laison sylvie
Feb 07
Feb 07

Of course I am dear Sheena, good write up and a true reflection of my community too.