When I found out about the existence of International Womens Day, I was a teenager who felt very disempowered within my own family.
I was the youngest kid and only daughter born to European immigrant parents who had not received a full education in their own respective country, much less the country they had chosen to live in, Australia.
The mass exodus in the 60’s of desperate Europeans who were in search of greater opportunities that Australia and America promised beckoned a new sense of hope for many, my parents included.
As is the case with many migrants, my folk’s social expression erred on the ethnocentric side.
Most of the people I interacted with were descendant of either relatives or friends of my kin who had either grown up in the same village, or a town nearby.
The conversations I had with my mother were mostly explosive arguments about my perceived sense of injustice about the different rules that applied to my older brother and I.
Cries of “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” would fall on deaf ears that were intent on preserving not only a culture she’d left behind, but also the only sense of morals standards she’d ever had a connection to.
Among other cultural obligations that had been imposed on her at the time, her lack of education made it harder for my mum to interact with a more progressive and educated group of people.
One of the (many) key moments that saw me assert my defiance was when a visiting uncle from overseas rudely demanded that I make him a cup of coffee.
I called him out on his petulance and lack of manners and was rewarded with a stern scolding that erupted into a horrible fight.
My adolescent language skills were limited to me defending my actions and redirecting the insults that were being hurled at me, and I was cantankerous enough to stand my ground.
It was the first time that I’d ever seen my mother feel embarrassment that was directed towards me. She was mortified that I could defy such a strong cultural norm and I was mortified that she didn’t stand up for me.
It was a scene that she and I would re enact many times over and for many more years to come. I was labeled as ‘difficult’ and ‘rebellious’ by my parents, and ‘gutsy’ and ‘weird’ by my (similarly oppressed) peers.
But as I studied to be a social worker at University, suddenly my people were no longer similar descendants of varied immigrants from the burbs like I was.
They rapidly became a more diverse bunch in race, cultural identity, sexual orientation and age. They ranged from tree hugging hippies to drug taking hedonists. Some were revolutionary thinkers from my Womens Studies group, while others were academics from my Sociology and Psychology classes.
I discovered happy hour at Manning Bar, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, feminism, Germaine Greer, hash cookies, Gloria Steinem, ecstasy pills and Maya Angelou all in one week.
I also discovered that most women I came to know had similar stories to me, but with fluctuating degrees of metamorphosis.
My biosphere had opened up. I was no longer alone, and most importantly, I was no longer going to blame the culture I grew up in for the sexist outdated attitudes that would treat women like second class citizens.
You see I was shown much worse than I had been exposed to (and I’d endured much worse than I’ve shared with you, but those experiences are not for this blog post), both in my professional career and in my personal friendships. For the
The world opened my eyes further when I chose to travel it for several years after my studies ended, and by the grace of the Universal energy that continues to guide me, my learning has not stopped.
I have met incredible inspirational women who have overcome adversity who lived to tell the tale and now dance to the beat of their own drum. They are the thought leaders, game changers and universal educators that share their medicine generously with the rest of the world.
It is my mission and greatest hope; to one day emulate a similar level of social disruption, mass education and global empowerment for all, especially for displaced women and children.
More than 2 decades have passed since I felt that sense of bleak hopeless disempowerment. But I know that I’m one of the lucky ones and for this reason, I have so much gratitude for the many, many blessings that are in my life.
From the students that come to my yoga classes, to the couples that choose me as their celebrant, to the clients that choose to traverse deep healing spaces with me in my one on one work. I continue to learn and understand the value and importance of honouring our history, clearing our ancestral pain and healing our cellular memory from the pain and trauma of our past.
International women all start somewhere at a local level and whether they travel or not, and whether they are educated or not, they all have an important role in the betterment of any society that they’re part of.
- To the sisterhood of women who are united by the fact that we all live on the same planet, today, I salute you.
- To the women who have shined a bright light on my own aches and pain, I salute you.
- To the women I am yet to meet in any facet of my life, I salute you and look forward to sharing a consicous collaborate exchange.
United by love, always,