You and I are Survivors. We are Women!

You and I are Survivors. We are Women.

This International Women’s Day reflect on history, reflect on violence, reflect on survival. Reflect on the millions of women wiped out with the torrential force of patriarchy’s insatiable hostility of the feminine. Thousands of women wiped out, bodies sold across oceans, lives cut short in the name of honor, girls made into women before the bloom of childhood is even over, women dying for family by the hands of fathers and brothers, sacrificed across the torrents of history’s pages denied education, denied health care, denied life itself. The violence, the oppression, the silence imposed to kill the feminine in us. The churches, mosques, the synagogues and temples built on our bodies, on slavery and on the burning and stoning of the feminine. Erased, murdered, sexualized, shacked, sold. Buried in shallow graves of societies silence, society’s willingness to look the other way, to not hear the echo of women’s screams across the eras of time, carrying from endless generation to generation of mothers to daughters.

To celebrate International Women’s Day is a radical act of self love. So remember to celebrate yourself too. In fact, celebrate yourself as a radical act of self love in a world so wholly and deeply committed to teaching us self hate, self mutilation, and self denial. Celebrate your existence, your voice, your still beating heart in the shattered invisible lines of your rib cage of the pain and suffering you have endured. Celebrate yourself because we are very, very good at denying ourselves, erasing ourselves, silencing ourselves to raise others up. I do not mean this self-celebration in a liberal, capitalist sense of sugary, hyper individualism that walks over the dead and bleeding bodies of raped and murdered women in our streets, parks and work places so that she can hurry home and shut the door of her home, closing her eyes to the reality of other women’s plights.

No. This mean a reaffirmation, re-connection, re-evaluation, a dismantling, a destruction, a shattering of the internalized, colonized part of our psyche, our bodies, our spirits. It mean a re-birth, a rising of the sacred, burning fire of love, solidarity and humanity that is the defining voice of the feminine. It means blooming into authenticity. It means living unapologetically, unashamedly, fiercely- even if your hands shake louder than your voice. It also explicitly means acceptance of the multifaceted nature of the feminine. To embrace our queer, and trans sisters. The disabled, the voiceless, the marginalized, the incarcerated. It means being very loudly, openly pro women of color, especially Black women. It means being anti-white supremacy, capitalism, anti-colonial, anti-industrial war complex and state terrorism. It means reading history, informing and arming ourselves with the knowledge of the denials of our existence, the slavery, the genocides and making the long erased history of women’s achievements stolen by mediocre men half these women’s worth visible again.

Remember too that this is the era of empowerment, the rise of the feminine like a burning, all consuming phoenix from the rancid ashes of history, of patriarchy, of capitalism. This is the era of the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) destroying ISIS, terrorism and toxic masculinity. This is the era of women like Layla Guvan and Arin Mirkan and Sakine Cansiz. It is the era of women only spaces in Umoja in Kenya, and Jinwar in Rojava, and Al Samaha in Egypt. It is the era of women saying “enough is enough”. It is the era of Claudia Jones, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Rosa Parks; the era of Black Lives Matter. It is the era of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. It is the era of empowered and educated daughters. It is the era of seeing that the personal is political. That her shackles add to my own oppression. That I am not free so long as she is not free. It is the era of intersectionality. It is the era of women liberating women. It is the era of women forming women’s collectives, participating in revolutions, making our own personal revolutions, denying the oppressive cloak of patriarchy’s suffocating mechanisms.

But in this era much oppression, much pain and suffering remains. Globally 1 in 3 women will experience physical or sexual violence by a partner or sexual violence by a non partner. 1 in 4 girls married before the age of 18 globally. 250 million women today were married before the age of 15. 200 million women and girls have been subjected to Female Genital Mutilation- 44 million are 14 years and under.

It is a mistake to think that these statistics and violence only occur in developing nations. In places like Australia one woman a day is killed by a current or former partner. 2018 was labeled as an “epidemic of violence” as the worst year for deadly violence against Trans women, with 80% of these murdered women being women of color. Globally 85% of domestic violence victims are women. 21 million people are trafficked globally, of which 71% are women and girls.

What does it mean to celebrate International Women’s Day when these figures not only still exist, but increasing? Are we able to celebrate our humanity, our femininity, when these very concepts are denied and killed in others daily? What does it say about the men we share our lives with? their complicity, their silence, their refusal to be at the forefront of change and progress with us?

No. Celebrating International Women’s Day means something entirely different. It means a militant, unwavering, radical commitment to the equality, privately and politically, globally.

It means solidarity. It means alliance with the silenced, with those being murdered, it means speaking out and with those suffering. It means action. It means taking part and being involved instead of simply being armchair activists.

It means to remember that in you blooms the sacred. The life force, the source of all that is. In you lives something living, breathing, something ancient sits at the core of you. She sits on the throne of your soul, at the seat of her power, made dormant but ever present, ever breathing, ever living. She is your survival, your resilience, your intuition, your calm in the face of the terrors you’ve faced. She is the storm, she is the typhoon, the cyclone. She is the creator, the giver of life, but she is also destruction, sacred, righteous anger. She has witnessed, seen, and bears testimony to the centuries of genocide of her kin, her sisters, her mothers. She will not be silent. She is angry and her anger is justified, as she walks through time, the wind blowing the dust of the broken spirits, bones and bodies of the feminine at her feet.

What do we mean when we say celebrate International Women’s Day? to celebrate is to reaffirm, confirm, to recommit. To live authentically every day as women, as feminine in all the colors, shapes and forms that she takes. It also means to let live, to refuse to participate in oppressive structures and practices, refusing gossip, refusing malicious cutting down of other women. It means decolonizing the feminine.

You and I are survivors. We are women. We are sacred, divine, an unconquered nation despite all their efforts, all the force of history and patriarchy’s tides of oppression, war and terror; the first colonized nation. To survive against all odds and to retain our humanity, to still love. If this is not sacred than what is? So today, I celebrate you, by celebrating myself, by embracing the sacred thread of femininity that binds us across cultures, across time, across history, across the shackles that bind us still, but whose chains become ever weaker, ever powerless, ever fragile.

Hawzhin Azeez

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