“We are at our most powerful the moment we no longer need to be powerful.”
Eric Micha’el Leventhal
March 8th is International Women’s Day, and so this issue is dedicated to women. I was born bold and have never shirked a good discussion regarding the horrendous status of women in the world, I am the mother to a wonderful daughter and I am a woman myself – all of which would make it seem that writing this editorial should be a piece of cake.
However I find each time I start to write I come up against some emotion or tone that I do not want to convey: anger, hurt, dismay or the worst – sounding like a ‘victim’ of my ‘womaness’ in any form. ‘Victim’ has become such a dirty word, associated with weakness and pity. Those of us fortunate enough to have horrible things happen to us in places with psycho-babble help at our disposal are taught to refer to ourselves as ‘survivors’ because it connotes empowerment and strength rather than injury. But I am starting to wonder whether our ‘survival mode’ makes perpetrators less accountable. What becomes measured is our ability to deal with pain and injury rather than making those doling it out accountable. We stop talking about the ‘harm’ done for fear of sounding like whiners.
Somewhere between being strong and capable our softness gets brushed aside. I don’t want to be a whiner and I certainly don’t want to let bad experiences come to define me, but I think there needs to be a moment of being the victim- acknowledging that we become affected by our experiences. I don’t want to be an emotional Navy Seal- all hard edges and ready to conquer whatever life throws at me. I want to embrace the sensuality of my femininity without hiding the scars, I want to remain open and generous in a world that challenges me to do so daily.
I think the answer lies somewhere in between. Maybe rather than cringe at the word ‘victim’ we need to change our connotations. Victims are not weak or to be pitied – they have been hurt. We are all victims of the human experience in some way or another – every single one of us has been wronged by circumstances or other people. This universality does not need to diminish the importance of individual experience. Possibly in acknowledging the pain and hurt, rather than simply surviving it, we can find common ground that will lead to greater empathy and compassion with those around us.
Let us honor the softness and vulnerability of the human spirit – in both men and women. Let us not have to shout to be heard but allow our whispers to shake the world.