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The Art of Protest and Feminine Power

One year after the Women’s March, I am convinced that laying down our swords is the only way we can have real change.  I look around the community and see women paying the ultimate price – their own happiness.

I have been a proud woman warrior since day one. When the nurse slapped me, I am pretty sure I slapped her back.

With the sword and shield in hand from an early age, for many years I was convinced I could never let my guard down.

Women will find this stance familiar.

Is all this fighting distracting us from accessing our own inner power? Is all this fighting leading us to divide out as women? Is it alienating would be allies? And most importantly, what is it doing to our own sense of self?

With the sword and shield in hand from an early age, for many years I was convinced I could never let my guard down.

As a proud woman warrior of over 40 years, I ask my fellow sisters: is it time to put down our swords? Is it time to turn towards pleasure and joy as a guidance system to find the change in society we so desperately want and need to see?

Through my years of working in conflict zones and peacebuilding, I see the true and transformative power of the feminine. It is fluid.  It is horizontal and consultative. It is innovative and resilient. To fully realize our own power, we must cultivate it. We can’t if our attention is constantly externally focused, clashing swords.

To be clear, I am not advocating that anyone stop fighting – rather, I am just advocating for a new weapon of choice. We need to focus on fighting with love and compassion instead of our swords of anger, frustration and fear. We have the need to yell so loud to be heard that we walk around exhausted, wondering why are throats are sore.  My days of being a woman warrior inevitably got turned on my own allies, and ultimately on myself.

After Trump’s win, the headlines kept repeating “White Women Helped Elect Donald Trump” or The real ‘shy Trump’ vote – how 53% of white women pushed him to him to victory.

Those headlines were more attempts at keeping the focus on the divides, not the emerging unity that the march represented. People criticized the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., for being so White.

But it needed to be.  I needed it.

As a proud woman warrior of over 40 years, I ask my fellow sisters: is it time to put down our swords? 

I came to this realization through my role as a security marshal at the march: I absolutely needed to see as many White women as possible. I needed the hugs and apologies that I received. I didn’t realize that the 2016 election had left me feeling marginalized and alone and that the headlines had left me feeling separated. The march was a moment of healing.

We need our men as well. During the Golden Globes Awards show, not one man used the platform to make a comment about sexual harassment and gender disparities, which was the obvious focus of the night.  I asked my male allies what they think motivated the silence.

Habeeb Akande, one of my mentors for Across Red Lines, explained, There are also many men who that see this as a woman’s issue which is why they feel they can’t add any value to this topic. I disagree with this as its more of a man’s issue as we are (generally) the perpetrators of sexual misconduct.”

Many wrote back they felt they could not get it right, so silence seemed like the safer option. Yet, their silence has always been the problem.Women can’t be the only ones with the bullhorn–we need all our allies’ voices.

Female advocates can model the inclusion that we demand, and this means allowing for mistakes when people step on social landmines.  We are suffering from an age of separation, and an unspoken need for belonging. Increasingly we are dividing based on an illusion of having only one identity. However, from ethnicity, religion and gender identities emerge diverse and powerful communities that should not be reasons for exclusion.

We can lay down our swords in a way that honors the warrior women before us who beautifully, forcefully and passionately fought for our rights. The best way to honor them is by living the best life possible. It is time for us to take the struggle to the next level. To a place where our dignity is a birthright and does not come at the expense of unity or personal joy.

The time has come to push beyond the righteous anger from all the injustices we have faced as individuals and as a collective. Let us instead adopt compassion and love as our weapon of choice.