We women are active and we women are passive. We want to run and we want to sit down with a book. We want to be involved with the emotional lives of others. We want to do our own thing. We are not ashamed of relationship, find no inferiority in our sensitivity, and where we draw power by our own wisdom doesn’t have to be judged by a male standard. Sometimes, we are so hungry. Sometimes, we cannot eat. We want to be filled with the world and so we will fill the world in return, cut through the veils that would lie and say we have no importance. We have a world of importance. We are life-makers even when we do not give birth. We give birth to ideas, to good works and ways of being and seeing. We are in conversation with the ancestors from one womb to the next, bearing traumas or joys or the place of passing between. We involve men and want to make life with them. We put the pieces together again, revel in the taste and the sense and the touch.
When stories are told of female people being trafficked, I want to see those accounts ultimately paired with stories of sex-positivity, empowerment, and an awesomely recovered joy in sex. It’s too easy to let the victimization of girls give the message that girls should fear sex and men, should be ashamed of their bodies’ desires. Girls already feel too damn responsible for the shit put on them to begin with. I know I was severely shaken by this subliminal message of female-at-fault as a kid. There’s been a lot of crap out there where people twist up agendas: using the documentation of sex slavery as a way to scare and silence female people away from their own sexuality and ability to say “Yes!” as well as “No!” when the time is right for each.
It’s too easy to “tell the story” without offering empowering, joyful solutions to victims and viewers of sexually traumatic stories. It’s easy to sensationalize it, even unconsciously by well-meaning people, or to present the survivors as forever helplessly victimized, emotionally disabled and unable to overcome and move on. That attitude of victimization-as-identity puts survivors in a hole, socially predestining them to be always defined by a trauma they went through. But identifying with the trauma doesn’t heal it. We are not defined by what we have survived. We are defined by how we get our lives back to empowered vitality so that the trauma has no more a strangle-hold on our lives. Yes, there is the critical importance in telling the story, but don’t stop there. Don’t stop at the narrative of endless pain. That’s not who we are! Go all the way to the joy of life rediscovered that follows! Others will see your empowerment and will know there is sacred life ahead to be regained and lived. We recover and distance our identity from it, from the toxicity that tries to pull us down into re-victimization around every bush. We move on from dwelling on it, sensationalizing it. We strive to cope with and not be overcome by the knowledge of these terrors. We participate in the world to come, and all the good of the world that is already here.
Gender equality must include the wellbeing of male people with female people. A gender equality movement that is sustainable for many generations will care to support men in transforming away from abusiveness and toward a compassionate guardianship of all people. It will be lovingly male-positive. Only by loving that which needs changing do we care enough about it to heal and transform it. The focus should not be on “liberating” one sex from another, but to bring people of both sexes together in loving, trusting affinity. It is healthy to foster affectionate platonic friendships between boys and girls early in their lives, so that they may empathize with each other without competition or early sexualization. Human beings, male and female, belong together. Life functions well when we are interconnected with the whole of who we are. I am skeptical of any society where female and male people are segregated on the basis of avoiding assumed harm from the other.
I wonder if all-girls schools or all-boys schools, for example, reinforce the alienation from and assumed threat of the “other” gender. It is enriching to have a women’s social group but I would not appreciate one where the group is defined as getting refuge from the perceived threat of wicked male-kind, as compared to a group that merely wants more focus on female friendship and talk of women’s lives with other women. There is a critical difference between running away from or running toward something. The same goes for a men’s religious group which excludes women on the basis of fearing women’s sinister sexuality will “tempt” their own natural masculine desires. Compare this to a healthy fraternity of men that mingles fondly and respectfully with women, but is focused on fostering more brotherly affection and confidence among men’s lives and experiences.