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Forget Sisterhood. Forget pink-hued, feel-good marketing campaigns. Forget movie stereotypes, lifestage-cliches, and the patriarchal clap-trap of divide-and-conquer. This Women’s Day, says Sam Wilson, let’s celebrate the real strength and collective power of womanhood.
by Sam Wilson*
This week we celebrate August 9, 1956, embodied by the power of the slogan: “Wathint’ Abafazi, Wathint’ Imbokodo”. You strike a woman, you strike a rock.
I’ve always loved that slogan. Because over the years, I have seen such incredible power from women, such earth power, staying strong and fierce despite all odds. When overcoming unthinkable suffering, when incandescent with joy or apoplectic with rage. I am regularly awestruck by the power of womanhood.
But the power of sisterhood? Not so much. How is it possible there are women out there who say they hate feminists who – by definition – simply want a fair deal for women? There’s only one explanation. Patriarchy may not have subdued our spirit, but it ‘s really nailed “divide and conquer”.
We certainly aren’t our own worst enemies, but we sure aren’t good at standing shoulder to shoulder when faced with them.
This year, I’m going to try some things that celebrate womanhood, not as a fuzzy concept, but as a collective experience.
- Most importantly, I’m going to try and tone down the judgement. For most of my life, I have confused being broad-minded with being non-judgmental, and they are completely different things. From burqas to abortions, from full-time jobs to stay-at-home parenting, from booked Caesareans to placenta pills, it’s astounding how women judge each other. If we want control of our own bodies and lives, surely we need to first afford each other that courtesy?
- Trying to be non-judgmental doesn’t mean you can’t share your own views. And sharing your own views doesn’t make you a bitch. (Actually, often it does…and that may be okay.) It’s stuffing your views down other people’s throats that really sucks. So I’m going to continue to share my views, but balance them with much, MUCH more listening.
- I’m going to stop endorsing the idea that making something pink somehow brings women closer together. It just brings business closer to revenue. These are different things.
- You know how 20-year-olds are sexy and experimental, 30-year-olds are new moms or panicking, 40-year-olds are harrassed moms or seriously panicking and 50+ women are becoming increasing invisible. WTF is that all about? I’m going to continue to build and cherish friendships with women of all ages, because we are people, not biological clocks.
- I’m also going to be nicer to myself. I suck at being nice to myself. First, I am going to stop jumping to own screw-ups that aren’t mine. Then if I do screw up, I’m going to own it and move on. And if I can’t move on right away? I’m going to be okay with licking my wounds for a bit.
Those are my 5 thoughts for Women’s Day. Strike the woman, strike the rock? It’s time to harness our earth strength, and strike out at our own fears too.
* Sam Wilson lives in Cape Town with her husband Andreas, and teenage sons, Josef and Benjamin. She works in content and social media, but spent over a decade writing parenting columns about her sons growing up, for a living. Now that they can read, they are less than amused.
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