Not that long ago, I came across a tweet by a Black woman that proclaimed, simply, “I love being Black.”
I thought about that a lot. I asked myself if I love being white, and the truth is, I’ve never thought about it. Because white? It’s the factory default. I never had to think about it being something I “loved”.
But I understood what she meant, because I love being a woman. I love being a woman in the same way I take pride in being a New Yorker. There is, built into the very DNA of womanhood, an element of cunning and survival, of inner strength, of quiet resilience. Wrapped up in that DNA is unspent fury that has passed down from witch to woman for generations. There is misunderstood and mistranslated anger. And tears. And compassion, consideration, compromise.
With many women–not all, we are not a monolith– there is a sisterhood of sorts, a knowing wink.
My best guess is that when you are anything other than the factory default setting, you have to actively seek out the things to love. When you are continually told–in words, in actions, in systems–that you are worthless or less than, you have to seek out things to love. And that self-love becomes an act of rebellion. It becomes something radical. Because women aren’t supposed to love themselves, at least not in relation TO ourselves. Most of us have been led to believe that our value is dependent upon how others see us, not how we see ourselves. Women aren’t supposed to believe in their strength or their intelligence or their power or their magic. We’re not supposed to use it or talk about it. When we do?
Today is International Women’s Day. We–we women, we bodies that defy the factory default– we will never reach anything close to equality or parity or equity or justice until we start to value ourselves, and until, as a society, we start to value women. Not women who achieve the same things men do, or women who prove they can do something the same way as men do.
Just women. Not mothers. Not wives. Not daughters or teachers or partners. Just women. Our bodies, our minds, our work, our passions, our art. Our ideas and our innovations and our contributions. Just as we are. Faults and strengths and complexities and yes, magic.
Today is International Women’s Day. It’s a good day to start valuing ourselves.