Monday, November 9, 2009

The Feminists Will Never Be Satisfied...

I originally wrote this for a Women’s History class a few years ago. It is written to be a spoken word piece. In light of the recent blow to women's health care and choice with the Stupak Amendment I decided to go find it and post it as a sort of rally cry.

The Feminists Will Never Be Satisfied.

The other day someone said “those feminists will never be satisfied”. And I thought …“you’re right”.

As much as I would like to nod my head and say "thank you" for all the rights that I have, and as much as I would like to smile, just be pretty and clap my hands,

I know that the freedoms I enjoy today were taken- radically- by the foremothers before me.

Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Sarah Winnemucca, Frances Harper, Ida B. Wells, Mary Kenney, Carey Thomas, Lucy Stone, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony.

Each of these women fought with their minds, words, and bodies for people's sovereignty.

They weren’t satisfied with the prescription of what it meant to be a woman. Black women on their back, in the house- not their own house- and domesticated. Brown women invisible, killed off, bred out and assimilated. White women, quiet with no voice or opinion, their words negated.

No. They were not satisfied.

This country was built on the backs of women and born from between their thighs. Yet they had to wait for over 150 before they even had basic citizen’s rights.

And they weren’t given it. They took it.

As nice as it would be for me to nod my head and say “thank you” for all of the rights that I have, and as much as I would like to smile, just be pretty and clap my hands,
I know that rights I enjoy today were not taken easily.

Rosa Parks, Margaret Mead, Gloria Anzaldua, Angela Davis Audre Lourde, Fannie Lou Hamer, bell hooks, Dolores Huerta, Aice Walker, Mary Daly.

These women have changed world dramatically.

The un-satisfaction of these women is why we are all free to sit in this room together, and it is out of respect for these women and the sacrifices they made, the voices they projected, the bodies they exhausted, the tears they shed, the hands they held, the breathes they took and gave that I call myself a feminist.

See, it’s a respect thing.

Because I realize that it is not something god given that I walk down these streets freely.

I do not believe in grace or chance or luck or wishing. I believe in talking and shouting, in standing up by your sister, in voting, in being seen and heard, in not being a passive by-stander, in letting people have choices, in writing, and protesting, in projecting and in being… un-satisfied.

Because it is not complacency that will give my daughter freedom, and it is not apathy that will give me rule over my own body, and it is not melancholy that will make my mother proud.

And no, we will not be satisfied.

So complacent, apathetic and melancholy is not what I will be, because I am afraid of the continuity.

Women still make less than men for the same job, gender roles still exist, rape is still one of the hardest crimes to prosecute, girls are still getting their clitorises cut off, sexual harassment is still rampant and our government is at war with women’s bodies.

So as much as I would like to nod and say “thank you” for all of the rights I have, as much as I would like to smile, just be pretty and clap my hands-

Instead I stand beside the women of today: Adrienne Rich, Jee Yeun Lee, Jennifer Baumgardner, Amy Richards, Kathleen Hanna, Rebecca Walker, Catherine Orenstein, Naomi Klein and all the others that say “I will not be satisfied”.

Because satisfaction did not get us here, and we are not turning back.