For this post, there were a number of catchy titles that roamed through my head. Some included
'On pulling up your clan' or 'On the type of woman you should be' (too prescriptive). What I want to capture for you, during 'Women's Month' in South Africa* is that you have options on who you can be, and I have dreams of who I'd like you to choose to be - regardless of whether there is a month in a year to celebrate that. You did not choose your genitalia, and even if I try hard to moderate it, you may not choose your gender straight away - but in the interim, I'd like to share with you a woman's manifesto - a set of principles and aspirational reflections that I hope will counter the Cosmo narrative that is headlined by things such as '30 Things All Women Should Do/Stop Doing/Have Tried/Must Know by 30'. It is A Woman's Manifesto, because it is my manifesto and not anyone else's, it is meant to be a guide and not a biblical text and I hope it presents to you options of the woman you can be, if you so choose. And if you do not choose this, then all that matters to me is that you have choice.
A WOMAN'S MANIFESTO
To venture boldly and unashamedly into all of the different parts of self,
including mind, body, soul, spirit, and sexuality.
To be at peace with all of the tensions, contradictions and syntheses that make one whole.
To choose to whom one must reveal themselves, unafraid to be bare when it feels safe.
To choose from whom to hide oneself, recognizing that all eyes see, but not all eyes see truthfully.
To say yes, when yes is meant.
To say no, even when it disappoints.
To be selfish with your self-preservation, recognizing that the world prioritizes the preservation of some - and that sometimes you must fight just to be.
To choose the channels you switch to, aware that watching comedy series on TV and drinking wine can be as important for your truth as fighting on the front lines for liberation.
To be angry when you are angry.
To be sad when you are sad.
To be delirious with joy bellowing from the deep crevices of your lower belly, unapologetically happy.
To not make yourself small for love because true love will allow you to be the fullest version of yourself.
To hold your heart gently as you do those of others.
To defy the mantle of 'strong womanhood', choosing instead just to be - woman.
To choose and have the power to exercise that choice.
To nurture the earth as it nurtures you.
To stand for justice, even at the price of calm.
To recognize that calm & peace are different, and peace can be disruptive when it is based on your truth.
To be humble where it is informed by your truth.
To be heard as much as you hear.
And, to rest - recognizing that you too are just flesh & bones: human.
*It's bizarre that there is only a month for women, black history and just real people. The canon is dangerous this way, it gives away 'special times' for garnering recognition of the crises at hand, without drastically changing the nature of violence people experience in the other 11 months of the year. Be weary of this. Inasmuch as it is important, it is window dressing for larger structures that need dismantling. This can only be done by those of us experiencing violence saying enough.