Sunday, March 8, 2015

Phenomenal Women

Today, March 8, is International Women's Day and to be perfectly honest, I am mad.

Don't get me wrong - I'm all about celebrating women. I spent the earlier part of this afternoon with ten women (and one more who was with us in spirit) whose truth and grace, whose imperfection and struggle, whose honesty and vulnerability and strength are true gifts. Their presence in my life provides great comfort. Their willingness to share what is deep and sacred is inspiring and helps me to honor the same in myself. I am blessed to say that I have many women around me who offer these gifts to me.

What angers me about International Women's Day is its necessity. Still, in 2015, there is a need to recognize women uniquely because the power of women too often goes unrecognized or is recognized and so scary to men that they take it, sometimes forcefully through sexual, physical, or verbal violence, sometimes through the subtle and pervasive signals that lead us to "willingly" give up our power: messages that lead us to believe we are unworthy, less than, or that our experiences or emotions are somehow invalid.

When I taught at an all-boys school, I remember talking to my students about issues that particularly affect women. Some were open to what I had to say; others were resentful or defensive. Later in their reflections, more than one boy wrote, "I realized that women are human, too."

Yes, women are human, too. Our experiences and emotions are every bit as worthy, as valid, as notable as those of men.

And so today I wanted to bring forward the words of a few women. In fact, as I started to consider whose voices and stories I should raise up, I quickly realized that dedicating only one post to other women's voices is ridiculous. How is writing one post  to honor women different from the source of my anger today?

So I will dedicate at least one week (still woefully inadequate) to share the words, stories, and photos of women and girls. We'll see what happens after that.

To begin, I share the song "Phenomenal Woman." The words are from a Maya Angelou poem, originally set to music by Amy Sky, and sung here by Ruthie Foster:

Blessings today and everyday to all you phenomenal women: those who nurture our world and those who need nurturing, those who have found their voice and those struggling to do so, those whose lives are beginning and those whose lives are coming to a close. May all of us know our power and may the world recognize and graciously accept the gifts we offer.