|from a google image search of the word feminism.|
Last year the focus of the conference was on healing oneself. Women from different backgrounds spoke of how they were strong, how they had been broken, where and and how they would heal, grow stronger and use that strength to improve their lives. This is all well and good but the subtext was that all that healing and strengthening should go toward helping and improving the lives of others and therefore, the world. It was pretty touchy feely, yes, but there was a strong message behind it.
The conference concluded with a powerful reading and speech by Sapphire. Her message was, very simply, that we've got to 'flip the script'. The entire weekend stayed with me in many surprising ways. When asked about the weekend, I usually got kind of flustered and a little embarrassed because I wasn't necessarily comfortable with and willing to reveal my own softer underside and so I would end up giving out some kind of flip line about how we were honing our witchcraft skills. Somehow, this was really not so very far from the truth. While I am not interested in excluding men from the conversation on how to improve the world we are living in, I think it is important to acknowledge how differently men and woman tend to approach communication and problem solving.
Now a year later, Omega launched what they are calling their Women's Leadership Center. The cast was star-studded. Sally Field, Cecile Richards and Eve Ensler were there but also many women that I had never heard of who are doing amazing work around the globe. The theme was different this time - it was a real call to action and let me tell you, I was moved.
There was a lot of good advice but some of the best came from Sister Joan Chittister, a member of the Benedictine Sisters who is trying to change the Catholic church from the inside out. When asked why she stayed in the church when she disagreed with it on so many levels she said, "I don't like the system, but I am going to stay and fight from within these walls. If you are going to leave something [because you disagree with it], don't leave quietly. And if your are going to stay, don't stay quietly." It's as simple as that, don't just put up with. Make it better. Flip the script.
On my drive home I was so fired up with passion that I was ready to put into the projects I am working on here in Beacon and then I walked into my house of men (one wonderful husband, 2 incredible sons) where they were building a remote control tank (I am not kidding) and for a second, I hesitated, not knowing how to integrate my weekend into my daily life. And then I remembered how my kids love stories more than anything and so I sat down and began to recount some of the better tidbits from the weekend to them. Here is their favorite:
At one point, Chung Hyun Kyung, a south Korean theologian, got up on stage to do some movement work with the audience. She leaned into the mike, in the direction of Eve Ensler, with the most gigantic smile and said in her beautiful thick accent, "Eve, I just want you to know, my vagina is soooo happy!"