Aroha Mai, Aroha Atu
As I come closer to sharing this blog I have been literally talking to all the women I know to see if they would like to submit writing for the Women's Writing Collective, or publish some of their previous writing. Overwhelmingly, I think that many women I have spoken to love the idea of writing but don’t feel confident enough to do so, or are afraid to have themselves put out there like that. It takes immense strength, bravery and self-love to be vulnerable for others.
For far too long woman have been told to hide their emotions. That emotions are bad. That sexism and partriachy don’t exist, that the challenges faced by women and women of colour are identical to the challenges faced by men or white women . So there is a fear, I know this for me personally, a fear, a dread of speaking out and naming the challenges that I face because of what other people ‘might’ think of me.
But my challenge to those women who are reading this is that we need you. Collectively we need more writers who are women. But not only writers who are women, we need those who are willing to stand up and be authentic. Willing to bare it all and say this is me. This is who I am, scars and all. This is what my life is like. These are my oppressors and challenges. These are my tools and techniques to overcome them. These are my successes.
This is why we need writing by women from different ethnicities, countries and privileges. Each women individually faces different challenges in her life and will identify with and learn from other women facing similar challenges. Whether those issues are indigenous issues, oppression, racism, sexism, poverty, climate change (insert any other issue here) there is someone facing them. They are real to each and every person who is affected by them, as real as the issues that affect you.
In the words of the American author, feminist and social activist belle hooks, ‘no black woman writer in this culture can write “too much.” Indeed, no woman writer can write “too much”... No woman has ever written enough.’ If you share a piece of writing on Awa Wahine, you can bet that there will be people who don’t like it. Patriachy may not like it (doo doo doo doo). But I can tell you now that one day there will be hundreds if not thousands of women who will read your writing, and at least one of them will be like “wait a second that’s me.”
They will identify with your writing and feel your hurt, feel your joy, feel your strength. Your writing may challenge them, inspire them, gift them with ideas, provide options and/or become a space of strength and solidarity in the comments below. Because to be honest it is actually none of our business who or what reads our writing, and whether they like it or not. All that matters is we stand up together and write.
Just as writing is healing, so is reading other people’s experiences. So as your writing heals yourself, it can heal untold others as well. Let us stand together as a powerful force of writers and healers, as the two are inexplicably intertwined.