I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a “strong woman” a lot lately. In the last two days, I’ve had men I don’t know make lewd comments to me from a car window or a sidewalk FIVE times. One of those times, a man drove by me, told me it was his friend’s birthday, and with a lick of his lips and a creepy wink, told me I owed him a gift. When I turned away, my face probably crunched up in an angry expression, he yelled a string of expletives after me that I won’t repeat.
My friend asked me why I thought this happening so often in such a short period of time… was it the weather, the rolled down car windows? Was it the neighborhood? Was it my blonde hair? I’d had the same thought- was it a full moon? What the hell was going on?
But in that moment, with no hesitation, these words popped came out of my mouth- “It’s because it’s what my soul needs.”
…I promise you, my response surprised me as much as it did her- my soul needed me to feel objectified? Huh?
I sat with that thought all evening, fell asleep confused. When I woke up this morning I realized what it was about. It was about reaffirming purpose and how sometimes purpose is less about action and more about our own way of being in the world …My way of being in the world.
For the past four months, I’ve been writing a book about my story, about abuse, about being a woman, and underneath it all, about the deeply ingrained social construct that any of us are here to be someone’s something. It’s about not wanting to be an object of affection, or an object at all, about this society in which we objectify ourselves, and about unconditional love… for self, for others, for humanity. I know, without a shadow of a doubt that sharing that story at some point will be my purpose, but right now, I’ve felt a little without a cause, because that book is still a pile of pages barely cobbled together, and it’s a story I’m not ready to share…not yet.
Then I realized I always have something to share from moment to moment. And because it’s so damn simple, it’s also so damn elusive. Being.
Right now I don’t have a published book, or a organization I’m supporting, a clear career goal, I don’t even know where I want to live at the end of the summer, but while I’m here, I’m showing up in the way I think the world should be. If I’m exhausted by this consumerist culture (and I am, I so am), I could leave, move to another country, where the rules don’t apply to me because I am an outsider, where I don’t feel so pressured to be something I’m not… but I’m not somewhere else. I’m here. It’s now.
So today I will rebel by accepting myself. I will be an agent of change by loving EVERY part of my essential self so deeply that I can show up so authentically enough and fearlessly enough to see the heart of every single person around me, and accept them for all that they are, instead of all the ‘things’ they and society needs them to be. My purpose… is as it always has been, to love the hell out of the good, true, alive souls all around me. Everyone.
Do I know that on some level, I am moving towards a life that empowers women? Yes, but today I don’t feel a need to “fight against” masogyny or objectification, I just need to walk around in a world that anticipates we will treat each other like objects, and to see with my heart, instead of my eyes or even my mind. The hardest part of that, of not seeing others as object is that it means I can’t fight them, I can’t see a single one of them as enemy, even the ones who’s words batter my often exposed heart.
My purpose and my strength… to be fierce in my loving, to hold compassion for the ones that are hard to love. ESPECIALLY the ones that are hard to love. To remember I’m separate from NO ONE. Not even that sneering man who shouted ugliness from a window. To not condone his ugly words, but to notice the hurt in my own heart when I am treated like an object, and channel it, to let that self compassion fuel compassion for a deep level of disconnect in him I cannot understand, and to hope that someday someone looks him in the eye and reminds him of his buried aching heart under whatever experiences and fear made him forget who he is.
To see others from a place of love, to need nothing, but to witness the good underneath- today it is enough, it is my rebellion, it is what makes me a strong woman. It is the only movement I need to be a part of.
PS I have a secret… I think loving, deeply, truly loving… might be your purpose too.