Towards an Intentional Sisterhood

Howdy. WordPress tells me it’s been seven months since I last published anything on this blog. The last entry I made was picked up by an alt-right blogger (read about this wingnut here) who then mined my social media accounts (and Davis’s!) in an attempt to pseudo-doxx me, and another feminist blogger for his small and pathetic readership. Although it was so-strange-it’s-funny and relatively harmless, I did feel threatened. Insults were made about my physical appearance. My partner was mocked. It was just invasive enough to be a little bit scary. My hiatus from the world of publishing my thoughts on the internet for any and all to read has been, needless to say, very intentional. A lot has happened since April; Davis and I got engaged, we moved in together, and we’re starting exciting new seasons as students. I’ve also taken the time to rest creatively and meditate on how I define my feminism. So let’s do it!

A big part of my blogging hiatus has involved critically evaluating my politics as a feminist, who I am as a woman, and how I interact with other women. Politically, I’ve been increasingly disenchanted with liberal feminism and its cannibalization by corporate media. When feminism becomes branded, it loses its urgency and call to action and erodes into a passive identifier. The collective action characterized by earlier waves of the movement have been lost to infighting, ideological purity, and community splintering (you could say that this is largely due to the fact that Western women have achieved many civil liberties don’t require mass organization in the same way that our foremothers did). Liberal feminist activism has become a nightmare. It has lost sight of the essence of the feminist movement; the liberation of women from male supremacy and the further dismantling of the structures of power, gender, and sublimation. It has contorted into a vicious, elitist club where you must be versed on the current lingo and homogenous group ideals to achieve acceptance and the label of feminist. The world of liberal feminism equates opportunities for critical analysis and challenge as literal violence, pertaining to issues where thoughtful and respectful discourse is required. This is not what I signed up for.

Personally, I’ve wrestled with what it actually means to be a woman. The period of my life in which I identified as non-binary had less to do with feelings of sex dysphoria and more to do with my latent rage at how incomplete and offensive the stereotypes and standards of female behaviour and expectations are. I didn’t want to accept female socialization and the societal standards for women, but then I realized that no woman really does either. Putting on red lipstick is not an act of feminist revolt. Celebrating female sexuality is not about leaning into media messages/pornification/covertly pandering to the male gaze through “reclaiming” historically patriarchal sexual symbolism (an example my frustrations can be better articulated here). Womanhood can’t be sold or purchased or chosen or co-opted; it can only be lived.

Womanhood is the untapped power of our bodies. It is having an organ that exists solely for pleasure. It is the life and death and regeneration that we carry inherent in us. It is the strength of enduring our existence as the second class. The pain held in centuries of rape, murder, mutilation, and slavery. It is the fact that girls around the world have their genitals mutilated, are sold in marriage, are abandoned at birth, and have acid thrown on them every single day. It is the rage at our abuses that constantly thrums beneath the surface of our smiles and platitudes. It is the socialization we endure as girls that forces us into tidy, pretty boxes and accepts no variation, which being designed by men, is for their consumption and benefit. Womanhood is being forced into the trichotomy of Maiden, Mother, and Crone when you want to be the Warrior. Having your hand slapped away from your interests. Being told to cross your legs and “act like a lady”. Womanhood is rawness and rage and beauty and creation and fire. I’m not afraid anymore.

To quote the late, great Andrea Dworkin: “Many women, I think resist feminism because it is agony to be fully conscious of the brutal misogyny which permeates culture, society, and all personal relationships”. Rather than sitting back in a sense of smug self-satisfaction about my personal politics like my liberal feminist self used to do, I’ve decided to start paying attention. This post is titled “Towards an Intentional Sisterhood” for this reason. I’m surrounded by powerful women with powerful life stories. There is wisdom and strength in community and I’ve frankly gotten tired of navigating this world alone as a woman. The aimless direction of liberal/popular feminism has left me feeling more lost than empowered, which is why I want to engage more meaningfully with the women around me. I long for women’s spaces and cooperatives and to unlearn my internalized misogyny.

If you’re a woman reading this: you are my sister, you are my friend, and I want to know you. Don’t be afraid to reach out if you identify with my words today. I’m not really sure what collective feminist activism looks like in the 21st century, but let’s figure that out together.

Peace, sister.