Yoga. Sound Healing. Angelic Reiki®. Well-being.
I posted for International Woman’s Day this year. My words felt powerful and flowed from me. I was pretty angry at the time, but in a constructive way- it felt as the fuel anger can be. From that post, I got many beautiful messages of support from both men and women, some as comments but many as private messages. I appreciated all of them so much, especially the messages that started conversations. It was really great to see and be part of many wide-ranging exchanges on the subject of men and women in our western society. I don’t know that those open and questioning conversations could actually have happened in the current climate, only 8 months on from then.
These are intense times. The deluge of #MeToo stories from women* on social media seems to be resonating with the collective in a substantial way. I don’t believe, as many who are speaking out on it in the media etc do, that we’re seeing real change within our systems of power with the- as I see them- token firings and demonising of a few famous men. To me they are just that, token statements made to placate and for monetary reasons, rather than actually dealing with the systemic and structural issues that have led us to where we as western society are today.
But I take great hope from the fact we are all speaking more openly and this speaking up from women- the sheer volume of stories- seems to be enabling men to better hear and see the extent of the problem.
It is the first small step in a series of many steps we all need to take in order to change how we interact with one another as a society. It’s a huge subject. There’s a lot of nuance needed to engage with it all- and nuance requires context and critical thinking, and for me, that means many words.
For the past few years, I’ve written bits and pieces on the subject here and there and have started writing many posts that I haven’t ended up finishing as it feels too big to be a blog post. And it is getting ever clearer that perhaps it’s a book- whether I write it for my own learning and sanity or something I share, I’m not sure yet. Really, this is all to say, I have a LOT to say on this vast subject matter. I have a lot of feelings about it. I have a lot to say from my experiences as a woman who has many #MeToo stories from the course of my life. I also have a lot to say as a woman who has many amazing men in my life. Just as I have many amazing women in my life. And while I have many amazing people in my life, all these people, just like me, are deeply, deeply flawed. We are all defined as human and we humans are perfectly imperfect.
We are all just doing our best to get on in this world we have been born into- within these deeply flawed, crazy, subjugating structures of power we have been born into. These structures** that encourage division and inequity and fear and anger and rage.
I’m feeling this collective conversation is just becoming a deluge of collective rage that everyone is releasing and the conversation is losing sight of humanity. Everyone with-drawing to their various corners of how they define one part of themselves- man, woman, black, white, trans, gay, lesbian, bi, queer, gender-fluid and the list goes on and on and on…
I feel we’re not recognising that none of us are coming from a place without socialisation within these structures. To say men have all the power in our systems without mentioning people of colour or money is to totally simplify and ignore the truth of our current situation. The systems in America are NOT the same as the systems in Ireland (where I’m from), likewise the Irish and US systems are not the same as the UK system of power and influence. Again, so much to talk on. History, context and nuance IS needed. And so I am not going to attempt to speak properly about any of it in that way here.
What I want to remind everyone of is you are you and that’s a magical wonder.
None of us know why we humans are here. Why are we born? How did we get here? What is it that actually gives us life- the part that is sometimes called spirit, soul, the animating force, the bit that is us removed from the idea of the body… Many of us have lots of thoughts and beliefs around it but none of us KNOW.
It is INCREDIBLE that we are alive. That we get to experience the beauty of our world. That we get to laugh, love, eat tasty food, have sex, get butterflies in our stomach from looking at someone, share a smile, connect, share our world with each other and all kinds of animals that look nothing like us and yet are all living every day, experiencing their lives in different climates, in myriad different ways but also such similar ways too.
It’s amazing and joyous and heart-breaking and inspiring and exhausting and so, so wonderful that we have a range of emotions and can experience them all in one day.
Life is incredible. And valuable. And each life is so very, very important.
I suggest that we look for justice and peace in the world AND that we do that from the space of love. Love for ourselves and love for each other. Because if there’s one lesson I’ve learned, it’s that loving yourself opens your heart to loving others.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
Dr. Martin Luther King
Let’s live that. Let’s all work to get comfortable with who we as individuals are. Because all of us are unique. Beautifully, magically, unique and wonderful. You can be you and you don’t need anyone else to say that’s ok. You are ok because you are you. If we could agree that we don’t get to impose our belief systems on others and we don’t get to impinge on others’ ways of life, we don’t actually need to agree on anything else.
Variety is what makes life so interesting. I’ve been so lucky to meet so many people from so many different cultures and hear their stories, to see their differences. And through those stories and the emotional world beneath them, see and feel our similarities, that which links us.
The list of people I love is huge. The list of people who see the world like me is 1- just me. This is awesome!
You and I, like every other human, are deeply flawed. And that’s ok. We are still worthy of love, of connection, of being heard. We are still valuable. We need to all allow ourselves to live the lives we want to live, and see that that means EVERYONE gets to do that.
The systems are the things that are broken. Not humans. Let’s not go down the path of believing that story those ‘in power’ want us to believe. Instead, believe in humanity.
Open your ears and your heart to those that are being most crushed by these systems. Fight for them to be heard. Fight for the systems to change (or for me, the ideal is for them to crumble and fall). Likewise, acknowledge that although these systems affect certain groups of people in overtly subjugating ways, they are affecting EVERYONE.
So on this International Men’s Day, I have been inspired once again to write. I’m seeing many on social media decrying the need for today to be recognised as a day for men with messages like “why is there an international men’s day, that’s every day”. While I get the anger, I think the point is being missed.
International Women’s Day is about recognising the systemic injustices and subjugation towards women inherent in our society. It’s not about saying ‘this one day is the only day we should care about women and women’s issues’. Likewise, today is about recognising the problems and subjugation these systems cause for men. It is not a ‘yay, all men are great’ day nor is it a ‘there are no problems for women’ day. It’s a recognition that the systems are inherently causing problems for all and these issues are different for each group. The way boys and men are being socialised is a huge part of this gender inequality problem. Shutting them down is not ok. Not acknowledging that men are an equally valuable part of our society is not ok.
Like on International Woman’s Day when I thanked all the women in my life for all they’ve done for me, I want to take this opportunity of International Men’s Day to acknowledge all the amazing men in my life.
I thank all the men who have been and continue to be part of my life for their encouragement, support and friendship. You are really important to me.
I thank all my male musician friends who have encouraged me to put forward my music and have said that my voice is important and valuable. To those male artists who are using their platform to create space for women’s voices to be heard: thank you for being the change.
And to all men- Your feelings matter. Your thoughts matter. Your emotional world matters. Your unique perspective on the world is valuable and wanted.
May we all recognise our uniqueness and accept that we all have different ideas about how our collective world should be. May we come from a place of deep love and compassion for all. May we all love ourselves deeply enough to love all others too.
Le grá, Laura.xo
*There are many stories shared by men too, and they are just as important and of course need to be acknowledged every day but especially on International Men’s Day. The initial purpose of the ‘me too’ hashtag was to show the systemic enabling of sexual assault against women- how it is an inherent part of the life of girls and women. I am in no way minimising that assault on boys and men happen and needs to be talked about, taken seriously and dealt with. Just that in the context of what I am speaking on at this point of the post, I am referring to the women’s experience.
**These structures are also encouraging everyone to get into ever-smaller boxes of definition about themselves. People feeling the need to define their sexuality, their gender, their place in the world through the lens of this subjugating structure. Using new words but the definition of those words coming directly from that oppressive structure. Using rhetoric of freeing up their place in the world whilst pinning down and boxing themselves into a very narrow definition of tiny parts of what it truly is to be human. Yes, we need to add laws into the system (as we seem to be holding tight to the current system) to protect anyone being legally subjugated by them. But to constantly draw new boxes around oneself seems to me to be totally counter-productive to the desire for freedom that seems to be the driving force in these conversations.
Again, a vast, broad subject that cannot begin to be dealt with in a blog post but as this is a huge part of the current collective conversation right now, I wanted to touch on it as I am speaking of women and men- I want to acknowledge that to me ‘men and women’ isn’t the narrow definition that the ‘powers that be’ say that is.
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