Have you ever heard someone say it like it’s a dirty word? Have you ever been called a feminist like it’s some kind of insult?
I am a feminist. I am a feminist because I believe in the intrinsic worth of every single female. I am a feminist because I believe that giving women a voice will take our world into a better place, because women know that we have been raping the earth, that war is damaging and killing is wrong, that mutilation and rape and that silencing our voices means silencing the calls to humanity to stand up, take responsibility, and care for each other. I am a feminist because I believe that women have the power to stand up and change the world for the better, and that by support women to be empowered, and to take up positions of leadership, we are giving humanity a better chance of survival.
Feminism is about equality, about valuing every part of the feminine spirit in the same way that we value the masculine spirit. And all my emotions, from the sweet joy of seeing a child brought into our world to the fierce, nurturing, protective mama-bear spirit that love awakens in me, to the moments of life that break my heart and bring me to my knees, all of these make me whole and allow me to experience the world in a way that is not only feminine but is all my own.
One of my close friends was once talking to me about her job and her colleagues. She explained how recently her male boss had said to her that of the women on his team, he particularly enjoyed working with her and another female because they didn’t get emotional like the other women, and that they never let their emotions inform their business decisions.
My friend heard praise. I heard prejudice. Her boss was praising her for functioning more ‘like a man’.
Now let me tell you: I believe in emotion. I believe that emotion tells you something about the world, about a situation, about a person. I believe that intellectual experience and emotional experience combined make wisdom. I believe that emotion speaks truth, because you do not think it up, mould it, trim it, or rationalize it. You ride it.
Which is why when I read Benjamin Disraeli’s words “Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for truth”, it resonated deep inside of my gut.
It took me a long time to realize that I am entitled to everything I feel. That my capacity for emotion makes me a better human being, not a weaker one. I grew up in this Western world where logic and intellectual rigour and analytical thinking are raised up on a pedestal high above the place of emotion. But I know now that when I cry because I’m listening to Somaly Mam speak about her experience as a sex slave, it’s because my soul is aching for her, and because I want a world where children are not sold into slavery, not because I am not strong enough to cage my tears. I know that when my heart wrenches as I listen to a friend describe her struggles with body image, it’s because I’m familiar with this world that teaches us to hate and abuse our bodies to conform to some impossible ‘ideal’ instead of loving and honouring them. These emotions drive me to want the world to be a better place.
And I sure as hell know that my emotions are an invaluable part of my soul. I am better for them.
We are human. We are emotional creatures. And nobody says that better than Eve Ensler, so please listen to her “I am an Emotional Creature”.