I have been thinking a lot about Breaking the Silence, how far we have come, how far we have to go, who is still isolated, who is still speaking out alone, who is still speaking out in danger, speaking truth out loud that has never been spoken in her community, and who has found this new Wave.
I am thinking back over the 1960’s and 1970’s here in North America, how new those words were, describing a world in which women were safe, how radical that was, how exhilarating to find each other in our own communities, and across Canada, and across the open border that we crossed often to meet sisters in the USA. Our numbers were small, our ideas attacked as radical, but we were bolstered by our sense of justice and by each other.
In the 1980’s as we held firm, grew in numbers and expanded our list of what needed to change we were met with fierce attack, and accused of being terrible women. The press was unrelenting. Labels of “man-hater” and “radical” made many back away from the word feminist, and from speaking out at all. It was a painful time, and there were ruined reputations, denied employment and blocking from speaking.
The 1990’s brought better times. There was enough evidence gathered and there were enough women standing together to create spaces for our stories to be heard, reported, repeated. Still, the stigma of being a feminist remained. Many women began with “I’m not a feminist but…”. We continued though, to be emboldened by each other. We met in groups to share stories despite the accusations that we were being “exclusive” and still “too radical”. I was not satisfied with anything less.
I think back on that time, when I feared that women would dissociate themselves from our movement if I did not change my speech, and I did quiet down a little in those years. Never silent, but somewhat toned down. Looking back I regret letting that fear quiet me. I believe the fear we had of losing credibility, slowed things down. This enormous crisis we are facing warrants and needs our voices to be as loud and as detailed and as visionary as possible. I think back on it now, because we have achieved so recently a great leap forward.
Now we have technology some of us had never imagined possible. And it has brought me World Pulse. Now I read stories of women speaking out boldly with the truth, shaking the old order, with new far reaching ideas of what society can be, with all women and girls free. I see the committed stand that we are not finished until everyone is free. I see the courage and brilliance of my sisters, and more often too now, of brothers speaking out for change for women, and for a peaceful and loving world. I feel the power of our having contact with each other, and knowledge of what is being said and done, and what is needed. I feel this quantum shift actually happening, strengthening and deepening as we grow. And I see that its growth has not come from softening our tone, it has come from so many speaking the truth, publicly documenting the details, proving that by being available to each other in great enough numbers we are closer to this needed change than ever before in history. This is real. This is new. This is because of women speaking loudly and fearlessly. This is because in numbers never experienced before, men understand and are joining us. I hoped so deeply in my heart that we could continue the momentum. And we have. In celebration of International Women’s Day 2018 let’s carry on with this deep love, with this wisdom, with this courage, with this Wave we are riding through our connections with each other and our hands outstretched to women who have not imagined what is possible, and who have not yet tasted freedom. We are changing history together.