I woke up this morning utterly exhausted.
I didn’t sleep well last night; I had a ridiculous dream about getting a bad haircut and not being able to protest as the dude snip, snip, snipped my hair into an awkward-length bob. And when I woke up I had a blinking list of emails to respond to and phone calls to make for my clients, and the entire internet was blowing up with images, videos and articles about the Women's March on Washington and across the world in protest of the newly elected "leader of the free world" and his stance on equality and human rights.
But I did all the things I had to do and then I went to the gym and I ate a killer vegetarian meal with my bff and I read a couple chapters of Don Quixote which I’m really grooving on right now.
This morning I was exhausted because I’m a human being trying to move through the world fed, clothed and sheltered.
I’m just the same as you, your mother and father, the Dalai Lama, Mr. Trump, and it’s exhausting for all of us sometimes, a lot of the time, because the world can be a cruel and unfeeling place.
And there are many people, an uncomfortable amount of people, who do not have the autonomy or even a voice to try and gain a little traction, just a little traction, towards being able to have the choice about what causes their exhaustion, about when the next time they get to eat will be.
Some people are born into a body, into a country, into a religion or cult that silences their voices and cuts off their free will.
No, we don’t all have the same fighting chance when we know what the statistics say about the colour and sex of the majority of the world’s leaders and CEOs, about the life expectancy and education levels of various demographics, about how many cents on the dollar women are paid compared to men. And so on and so forth, pick your demographic, pick your minority.
And it’s exhausting to move through the world in a vacuum railing against the injustice of the system and hoping that one day it won’t feel exhausting anymore to wake up in the morning and spend another day grinding it out against undeniable odds that are stacked against us as a woman, or as a person of colour, or a homosexual, transsexual, transgendered person.
So I have decided to start a dialogue, which I’m sure will also be exhausting in the long run, but I feel is at least a productive and necessary use of my time today.
A dialogue about what it means to be a woman in the world. A human in the world.
Because as we know, we have to first change our minds to be able to change anything else.
So my work is one of putting words to a culture shift and hoping that if even one person reads my words and is prompted to share them or to action, or to starting their own dialogue, then I have done my part.
What does it mean to be a feminist? And is feminist a big enough word to account for the very human experience of having to live in the world and not having had the choice of what our form manifested as?
Labels are a concise and simple way to define and organize different groups, often for the sake of ease in communication. But as more and more sub-groups emerge and new information comes to light, labels can and do shift and morph in their definition.
If the goal of feminism is total equality, can we call ourselves a feminist and treat girls differently from boys? Jews differently from muslims? Parents differently from their children?
Regardless of our actions and thoughts, they do not mean that we cannot call ourselves a feminist or anything else for that matter.
Life is full of twists and turns, disasters and miracles, ebbs and flows in energy and meaning as often and as perpetually as the tides.
Consequently one would be remiss to think that a standardized and self-imposed label of “feminist” or otherwise will always fit one’s ideals and ideologies the same way, forever and ever, amen.
And just as those twists and turns colour our daily lives, we discover that everyone – everyone – not just ourselves, has an opinion about anything and everything that intersects us on our journey through life. Including those (me! me!) who say that to be a feminist is not enough: we must strive to be conscious.
We can never do enough nor too little when we are striving to bring more love and understanding into the world.
But it is not easy to live a life of love and understanding because we live in an insane world.
With these two things in mind (opinions and insanity), so my discourse begins with a list of things I consider to be true, at least for now, upon which my feminism is built, and that have defined what feminism currently means to me:
1) No matter what I do or say, if it’s not done or said from a place of love, it is not feminism.
Shaming, gossiping, judging, condemning, bigotry, intolerance, anything, even if I think I’m doing the right thing by pointing out the fault of someone else, female or otherwise, is not feminism.
Just as choosing to get Brazilian waxes to please your partner doesn’t make you any less of a feminist than the women who flaunt their natural bushes (forests?) for the world to see, if you’re doing something from a place of higher love, you’re absolutely a feminist, a Buddhist, a Christian, an ally (a Canadian, a Norwegian, a Tibetan and so forth).
2) Everything can change and inevitably will.
If we do not believe that everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they have and the capacity they have in that moment to act, then it is a long, tedious, upsetting path ahead of us.
Do we not ask and hope for forgiveness when we make mistakes or do wrongly unto others?
This does not suggest that we should condone the negative behaviour of someone else. Quite the opposite.
We need to consider that those who act in ways we see as anti-feminist, anti-human, will not be strong-armed into anything, let alone respecting females, if they do not first come to that conclusion themselves.
How can we expect someone to act in the most tolerant, pro-feminist, empathetic way possible, if they lack the resources or education to know what that even means?
All we can ever do is work on the quality of our own consciousness in every moment.
We leave the room if we hear someone speaking ill of a woman, or anyone else for that matter. We do not engage. And we strive every second, every minute of every day to be the cause of a world of equality, not try to change others through force or ill-will. We can act as role models and put ourselves into positions or find platforms that allow others who are open to being led by example. We can raise our children to be open, loving and tolerant, but we cannot force anyone into anything.
Constantly seeking to further expand our knowledge and understanding of the people around us and how the world operates is one of the best things we can do that will lead to a fully engaged, fully conscious, fully equal society.
The Women's March on Washington that happened on January 21st, 2017, is an excellent example of a coming together of people to peacefully demonstrate why feminism is important for the advancement of humanity. And the world heard our message.
I am dedicated and open to being challenged when it comes to my definition of feminism, of consciousness. I am open to debate and to learn and to expand my knowledge to account for further shifts and changes in the global climate when it comes to equality.
There is no other solution to enlightening the oppressive members of the patriarchy who have muffled the voices of the oppressed with strong, heavy hands, than to continue to educate ourselves.
3) One cannot even begin to imagine what a conscious society will look like.
Can you imagine? Can you even begin to imagine?
In my wildest dreams a conscious society is founded on self-sufficiency, and is communal in the deepest sense, has zero-waste, nobody wants for anything, and is built on eternal love and gratitude.
But I know that even this image of nirvana is off base because it is imagined through a lens conditioned by the insane world I’ve grown up in.
I can only hope to live a life where my actions are more aligned with consciousness than with unconsciousness to bring us one step closer to whatever this place may be.
4) Statistically, historically, it is going to take conscious, hard work and effort to find equality, if not just for women, but for all minority and marginalized groups.
This does not mean trying is not worth it. It means that every day you have a choice and a vote for what the future will hold.
When I feel, really feel, all there is to be felt by the injustice and inequality I experience on a daily basis directed solely to my gender, the anger and shame and longing for revenge I seek to feel is strong.
But I know that as a woman, as a human, I want equality! So that anger and fear must be translated into love and consciousness.
The only productive type of change is the change that comes from within and is itself open to changing and evolving over time as new information arises.
Feminism is but a word with as many different definitions as there are people who use it.
Solidarity as women must transcend race, age, education levels, marital status, and I argue that in the collective striving for consciousness, no one is left behind.
What can you do today, kitties, to help make the world a more conscious place?