In the strange way that the universe sometimes works, lines from this piece came to me earlier this week before I realised International Women’s Day was coming up. It was the sort of piece that my notebook is full of, a few lines that I don’t always have the time or inclination to build on – for many reasons – but this time I wanted to make the effort. You can read what it became below.
This International Women’s Day, and every day besides,
I am grateful.
I am grateful,
For the mystery that made me who I am,
In this country, in this era, in this family, in this society, in this body, in this skin,
Because it means I can be grateful for many more things.
And, I am grateful,
For contraception, and menstrual products, and bras,
And for access to safe abortions, and polling stations and education.
I am grateful for the strong women I have known,
And I am grateful for the strong women I can see.
I am grateful for chips in glass ceilings,
For women slowly filling boardrooms, and laboratories, and lecture theatres, and farms, and construction sites and parliament,
And for women who own their sexuality, own their bodies, own their pleasure.
I am grateful for women who vocally support other women and their choices,
And I am grateful for the women who have stood up – or sat down – and demanded more.
And I am sorry.
I am sorry for the girls,
Who will be told the most important thing they can be,
And I am enraged.
I am enraged for the women,
Whose pain and concern and ill-health is ignored by doctors,
For the women who are suffering while the medical world searches for more ways to make mens dicks harder for longer,
I am enraged by the people,
Figures of authority, colleagues, friends,
Who see women made uncomfortable,
And deafen us with their silence.
I am enraged that in a place of work,
The source of a joke could include;
My appearance, my sex life, my menstrual cycle, my role in life as a woman.
I am enraged that in a court of law,
The source of a defence could include;
A woman’s underwear, her sex life, her kinks,
I am enraged that when I am walking alone all I see are risks,
That any man would grab my chest before I can open my mouth to protest,
That any man would think I am walking down the street for his admiration and pleasure.
That when I pause to unlock my door I am vulnerable,
That escape routes and self-defence and fear are well known.
That men are a threat.
And I am enraged that I am not alone.
I am grateful for these emotions,
They make me who I am,
But I am not an ‘emotional woman’.
I am not here for your pleasure,
For your service, your entertainment, or your dismissal.
I am a person,
And I am here to do all things I could ever dream of,
And if I inspire one person,
And that person is a woman,
I will be grateful.
And if that person is a man,
I will still be grateful,
Because that is feminism,
And feminism is equality.