Within the global pandemic of violence against women, I thought the physical and emotion abuse I was experiencing was insignificant, that it was controllable, escapable, excusable, and therefore incredibly worthy of shame. After all, I lived in a country where women were equal. If I was experiencing gender-based violence, it was most definitely my fault.

We all grow up with myths. This one belongs to North America.

The violence that is happening against women in Canada, particularly women of color, Aboriginal women, and women with different abilities, is systemic cultural oppression at its very best. This is elite, purple-robed, capitalist, patriarchy that has found a way to curtain itself in the guise of freedom by embedding an equality narrative into its anthem, into its books, into its television shows. It is a myth that is retold through the custody battles of single mothers, the testaments of rape victims, and the trials of abuse survivors.

But I have faith that myths are meant to evolve, that my community will let go of static illusion when presented with reality, and that our histories will one day become stories of power, not of survival.

Freedom for women in my community will not come from the voices of the same legislative and educational systems that have repressed us. But freedom IS coming. I see it unfold from the creations of female artists who carry with them the reality of their struggles. I see it bleed into forums like World Pulse that allow us to participate in democratic citizenship, and engage us in global story-telling. I see it in my own creative empowerment work with women who are eager to share their stories of injustice. The demystification, re-mythification, (r)evolution is here and it is finally beginning to be fuelled by our voices.

Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Challenges and Solutions to Creating Change.

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This. was. epic.

So poignant. So beautiful. So inspiring.

I hear your voice, and I absolutely love the sound of it!

Deeply moved, Ruthibelle

Love, Ruthibelle ruthibelle.blogspot.com

Dear Ruthibelle,

I was just reading your entry for this week and thinking exactly the same thing :). You are a beautiful writer and I'm blessed to be in such good company. Thanks for your support.


Thank you Cali,

The bruises were a physical representation of the trauma that so many women go through emotionally, mentally, and spiritually on a daily basis. This is what truly breaks my heart. The invisible marks are the ones that last and they are carried by each one of us. I know that we can all transform those scars into works of art. We must just believe in ourselves and in our capacity to do so.

Lots of love,


Sadly the problems of gender discrimination and inequality are largely seen as a problem of women in the developing world. And for that reason I imagine it must be difficult to broach the subject in the developed countries. Like you said, it calls for new ways to address the problem that has disguised itself.


Yes you're absolutely right Maggs. I grew up in Southern Africa, Asia, and Europe and only moved to Canada as a university student. Most of my work has also been international. I admit that I never saw the systemic injustices of North America as a priority until I began to unpack what had happened to me. Girls here are being raised to constantly adjust to male spaces while being told that they have equal rights and opportunities. This does really harmful things to the psyche of a woman, something we must begin to speak about if we hope to ever find peace. We are all fighting this battle together.

Thank you so much for your comment.



Wow, Julie, fantastic piece...I loved reading it and loved the power and insight behind the words...Having a similar background of having lived in many countries and continents before moving to Canada (completed my highschool and university there before moving again) I hear you on the different types and subtleties of injustice towards women, and the injustices that we perpetrate on ourselves as a result of believing in the status quo and the myth of a 'man's world'...the change is here and we, like you say, are all in this (R)evolution together...

Love, Claudia


Thanks so much for your comment :). You are so right. It`s easy to see the freedom of women as being a matter of basic human rights and 'equality'. Both are essential for our survival. But we all deserve more than that. When we look at all of those subtleties that you mentioned it is impossible to ignore how deep-seeded this oppression really is. It's quite literally in our blood. It's in the ways we hold ourselves, the volume of our voices, the language we use. If we want to make change sustainable for women on a global scale, we must all dig down to the roots of who we and what has made us who we are.

Thanks again sister!


Hi Julie,

You have a wonderful and compelling voice, which comes through in your own narrative as well as your exchanges with the sisters who responded to what you wrote.

Thanks for getting an important discussion started about looking carefully at the "equality narrative" that persists in North America and perhaps in other developed countries (I recently moved back to the States from Germany and I definitely experienced major hierarchy issues there).

I know that I live in a country where women have emerged as powerful politicians, decisionmakers and high income earners, however many of these same decisionmakers are stigmatized when they speak out too "aggressively," their appearance is scrutinized, in particular if they appear too strong or "manly" and, interestingly, I find some of the negative comments coming from not only men, but women as well.

So perhaps this global storytelling will help us to shape a new equality narrative on a universal scale ... do you think it is possible?

Thank you for your inspiring words!


Dear Claire,

Yes, I think its absolutely possible :). And I have a feeling you do too! Thanks so much for commenting.

I want to touch on the important point you made about women being scrutinized for being too 'manly'. As you said, we have been raised in a world where 'manly' is the only benchmark for power and success, yet when we embody any characteristics that appear to be 'manly' we are shamed by both sexes. Likewise, when we embody characteristics that appear to be too 'womanly' we are shamed by both sexes. We have not been permitted to flow between what have become engendered characteristics without being labeled as hysterical, premenstrual, or menopausal. For Gay and Trans people these kinds of oppressive standards around gender normalcy are even more pronounced. Our women certainly contribute to the perpetuation of gender stereotyping, but I'll add to your point in saying that they do so because they are veteran students of that exact patriarchal ideology. As are our men.

I think we are all in need of some subjective story telling that (a) admits to being subjective, and (b) isn't written by the privileged few. So, yes, I think global storytelling will shape a new equality narrative. Why? Because you are contributing to that re-mythification right now sister :).

Lots of love,


Hi Julie,

Good point about the patriarchal ideology that often frames demeaning or negative language around women, regardless of the source. I think there are messages that say we are equal but the frames haven't changed. It is a clear form of structural violence.

And I agree with you about admitting that we're subjective -- I like how PulseWire encourages us to offer personal reflections and really own our words -- and our assertions -- in that way.

I want to add that I really like the way you phrase things. Contemplative yet succinct. You have a powerful voice!

Best wishes, Claire

Dear Julie,

This is a wonderful essay! What you have shared has really resonated with me and with other members of the PulseWire community.

I would love to hear more of your ideas for addressing the need for change and bringing about change. I was intrigued when you mentioned "creations of female artists who carry with them the reality of their struggles" and "my own creative empowerment work with women" and would love to hear more from you on this.

Thanks for sharing, Sally

Sally Peters ~~~~~ Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant. It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest. ~ Georgia O’Keeffe ~~~~~

Hi Sally,

Thanks so much :).

A lot of creative empowerment work is being acted out by women all the time and everywhere, but it's going completely unrecognized. I'm a big fan of spoken word which I believe is one of the most accessible avenues available for women to tell their stories freely and learn form each other (El Jones from Halifax is one of my favorites). I left my most recent job with an international organization about 6 months ago to pursue my own research in holistic empowerment work with women. Currently, I'm working with another survivor of domestic violence to develop a grassroots program that will engage female survivors of violence in writing poetry and performing monologues.

Most non-profit organizations are still working within very patriarchal frameworks, even the women's rights organizations. This is why we see so much rights-based empowerment work happening both in North America and internationally. But the colonial legal systems that have unfortunately been imposed in most countries aren't only patriarchal, they're often archaic and culturally incompatible. They have been built by the few to benefit the few and while attempts to reform these systems are being made (for example CEDAW), the transformation process is painfully long. In the meantime, women everywhere are being taught to think that their empowerment comes from biased legislation, not from within.

I feel strongly that women are fundamentally creative beings and that this creativity will open passages for us take our lives back into our hands.

I hope that answers your questions. Thanks again for reading and I'd love to chat with you more about this anytime.



Hi Julie,

I couldn't agree with you more!

Empowerment comes from within, connecting with our own strength and creating our own vision is how change will happen. I do believe that art and creativity can help us connect with self, offer us insight and help us share our ideas with others. Creativity changes the world!

I am excited to hear of your work with women who have experienced domestic violence. Writing and performing monologues can be very healing and helps to educate others about domestic violence. You are doing good work!

I hope you keep me posted on what comes next! Sally

Sally Peters ~~~~~ Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant. It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest. ~ Georgia O’Keeffe ~~~~~

Hi Julie,

I completely agree with you about the equality myth, though it isn't presented this way often enough.

Thank you for an excellent article. I loved your thought "...that our histories will one day become stories of power, not of survival." Such an inspiration!

Cindy Coles

Thank you Cindy,

We really need to believe that we are worth more than economic independence and legal protection within a capitalist patriarchal system. Of course, responding to the immediate needs of women is crucial, but if we don't begin to believe in our critical and creative inner-voices our struggle will always be a reactionary movement.

Thanks for reading, I would love to hear what you think about my most recent post. Let's keep this conversation going :).