“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own”
– Audre Lorde
Feminist and activist, Audre Lorde, used this quote to exemplify unity among women. She is unifying herself with other women, despite the differences. At the same time, she is accepting the differences and talking about the multiplicity of identity. This refers to the fact that every woman is oppressed either more or in a different form as a result of their race, sexuality, class, and religion. She is acknowledging those differences without letting them separate her from other women. Here, Lorde is using gender as a type of binding. When one of us is oppressed, we are all oppressed. Other women aren’t competition, they are companions who inspire and fight with you at your side. When others succeed, our emotions shouldn’t drown in jealousy, they should expand through inspiration. When we unite, our voices will grow louder. Let’s be the wild, rebellious, and strong women we are.
“When I say that women are oppressed, I do not mean that men are never oppressed. Men are, not because of their gender, but because they are poor men, or racially despised men, or homosexual men, or men who do not conform to strict gender stereotypes. Women are oppressed in these ways too, and, in addition, because of their gender.” – Phyllis Chesler, P.H.D.
This quote is a reminder to us that women aren’t against men, we are linked together to fight for our equality. The revolution is made up of both women and men, and what are we fighting against? We are fighting against social expectations, misogyny, racism, ageism, ableism, classism, homophobia, and many other forms of oppression that we may not be aware of. This is why it is important to empower one another no matter our gender. Hating and judging one another is taking away the focus on the main goal: equality and love. Love will unify us, hate will tear us apart.
“Women feel more guilt than men, not because of some weird chromosomal issue but because they have a history of being blamed for other people’s behavior. You get hit, you must have annoyed someone; you get raped, you must have excited someone; your kid is a junkie, you must have brought him up wrong.” – Germaine Greer, Guilt Poisons Women
Women have always been put on a pedestal. They have been expected to be moral, submissive, and patient. Women have been practically viewed as fragile creatures who were responsible for bringing men back to morality. Men were expected to make mistakes and be aggressive by nature. Society believed a woman’s purpose was to be patient when men were aggressive. To help them become virtuous. This all sounds silly now but, has that main point of view changed at all? Sadly, we still see this kind of belief being expressed in today’s culture. For example, Beauty and the Beast. This movie seems harmless at first sight, right? Well, the main character Belle exemplifies the “ideal” woman. A woman who is patient, calm, tolerant, and the one responsible to change a wicked man (the beast) into a pure man (his human form). It may not sound like a huge deal but, these are the kinds of movies younger girls are watching. The women in these movies are their role models. They are showing them how to act in situations and how to interact with other people. This is why it is important to think critically about the movies and shows we are showing to other women and girls.
Let’s remember that this is the generation of the rebellious, opinionated, outspoken, and powerful women. We are not responsible for the actions of men. Like the quote says, we must be guilt free when it comes to the mistakes of other people. Women can dress, talk, and act however they would like. Women are patient and impatient.
Women are calm and rough.
Women are tolerant and intolerant.
Women are quiet and loud.
There is no one “type” of woman, so there shouldn’t be any kind of expectation for us. Let’s remove ourselves from this pedestal and become human beings instead of saints.