As written on the Sehkmet Cloak “ A woman’s liberation is the cause of all women's woes.”It has taken me a few days to process what I wanted to write for this post…. I was waiting for a letter like this to come. I prepared myself for it. But it still hurt just as much. I hope in writing and in sharing this I can express how grateful I am for those fighting the good fight to unite and empower women and how important it is for us to continue this movement.
This woman carries toxic masculinity disguised as toxic femininity. I do not want to shut down your story or voice here, it is valid and important. But I do need to say that I felt the hate when I opened this letter. I felt the attacking words. I felt the shame you felt when you wanted to say "me too" but still feel that you cannot... I felt your mother’s pain when she lost her baby. I felt her anger towards the drunk doctor and your anger too. I felt her relief at an escape to a better life in a marriage. I felt her helplessness that being a farmer, wife, and mother were her only choices for survival. I felt her pride as she took care of her family and gave them the best life she could. I smelled the New England autumn air when you said your mother could tell the weather by the leaves. I felt my heartbreak when she felt she had no other choice but to smile...when she felt that feeling any other emotion would make her weak or hurt her family. I felt these things because even though I was "raised differently" I have still experienced them. I have experienced and like you still struggle to say "me too." I have experienced them and like you sometimes I still end my sentences with "just discard this" instead of holding my ground like I really want to.
While reading your letter, I heard the stories of my grandmother ring through as she told me about her own experiences of being a young mother. Of being a maternity nurse in the 50’s. About all the women she helped to save after botched abortions. About all the women who carried a baby for 9 months to give birth to an unbreathing being. I thought about the smile on my mother's face when she talks about how her father lovingly looked at her mother. I thought about the tear on my grandmother's face when she talks about her own father.
I felt grateful that women like your mother, my mother, and my grandmother paved a way for me to be the educated successful woman that I am with a world of opportunities before me. I felt honored to be given the gift of life from these women. To be given the chance to not only survive in a world but to ascend into the best woman I can be…. So how dare you tell me that I am not hard-working, strong, kind, or respectful. How dare you tell women who are healing through centuries of repressed sexual/emotional/physical abuse and trauma that they are only looking for pity.
Women dividing women is the old way of life. I am proud to be a young woman in the 21st century. A woman that is proud of my body. Proud of my sexual desires. Confident in my choices. Educated in my words. Powerful in my art. Exposed to a vast knowledge of cultures and critical theory. A woman raised by an army of women who raised me to know that I could be and do anything. That the world they created for other young women like me would be filled with limitless opportunities. That my brain was as powerful as my uterus. That I could depend on myself to get “the first phone in my neighborhood” and not have to rely on a husband.
I respect that you took the time and energy to write to me about your thoughts… I wish you were able to respect your voice as much, as to not open your letter asking me to discard your words. I am sorry that you were trained to believe that your voice was less and that as a woman you have to stay inside one mold and one expectation. And I am sorry that you will not say #metoo… But we will be here for you with open arms when you do. Thank you for reminding me why my work is so important, why these letters are so important, and why we still have so much work left here to do to continue to empower one another’s voices and choices.
If the anger of a woman's sexual liberation, power in her voice, and power in choice over her body is what you are most worried about in this COVID-19 pandemic, then I am very happy for the privilege and comfort that your life has been blessed with as well. You were clearly raised by some remarkable women. I have learned and inherited so much from the women before me… I hope you can learn the same from my sisters and me as we rise up too.