I Am A Full Woman

A number of years ago, I attended a conference on women in Canada entitled, “Gather the Women.” I was very interested in going, but I had a niggling thought that kept coming back in the middle of the night. I just knew that it would not be a gathering of women, per se, but a gathering of 95% white, Western, middle income women, with a few women of color and a few women on the financial edge sprinkled in. I began to admit to myself that I was sick of attending conferences with names like “Gather the Women,” when they should have been called, “Gather the middle income, white women, and have a conversation that can’t possibly express the interests of Women (big W), without truly including women of color and women who would never even have heard about such a conference in equal measure!”

At the last minute, I decided I would go if the conference coordinators would allow me to present a video montage of faces of diverse women I’d photographed, to remind us all that we have to include these types of voices in future conferences. They agreed. So, I quickly pulled together photos from my desk-top and threw them together with a great piece of music I loved called “Full Woman,” by Rachel Bagby.

At the conference, the montage was shown on a large screen at the end of the first day, and the response was overwhelming. Women were weeping in the audience, and many came up afterwards to thank me and shared with me how and why they held themselves back from being their full selves, and how painful it is. It also started important conversations about why these sorts of conferences were so exclusively white, and middle class. Questions were raised and many answers came from few the women of color and economically disadvantaged women in the audience. It was a rich experience.

After this first showing, I realized that I needed to redo the montage more seriously. I felt called to actually go to the different countries to make portraits of women that reflected the power and diversity of women I wanted to convey. My plan was to create a broader version and then give it away for free to any women and girl serving organization world-wide who would have the capacity to show it to their constituents. At that time, there was no such thing as Vimeo. I imagined I’d have to send DVD copies all over the world through the mail! I’m thrilled to say that since January last year, the montage has been downloaded on Vimeo over 36,000 times and viewed over 18,000 times, and thousands of women and men have shared it.

I believe that the abominations we are witness to and sadly so many of us experience in our lives — the horrific rapes and murders, endless wars and tortures, senseless destruction of the bio-sphere and nature, dowry burnings, sex trafficking, breast ironing, domestic violence and hatred of all things female can and would end if we, as a human species, would just wake the fuck up and pull together to birth the new paradigm that Riane Eisler describes as the shift from domination to partnership; if we could just co-create together, all of us, the Great Turning, Joanna Macy talks about; if we could just transform this broken system that is hurting all of us and honor women, nature and all life forms, and shift from “power-over” to “power-with” — from domination to partnership and cooperation; from greed to generosity; from self-hatred to compassion.

I know that love has to start from within. My prayer is that all women discover the full woman they are inside, and that all men honor women and honor themselves as whole human beings. We all got here through the body of a woman and if we all want to stay here and live well on this beautiful, miracle of a planet, we all need to realize that the qualities of the feminine are not gender specific, but principles that combined with the most honorable qualities of the masculine principle are what’s going to save us.

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  • jp

    This is beauty and strength. Thank you and the authors you cite for bringing us this message and a vision out of our seeming hopelessness. We need this, exactly.

  • echar

    Thank you

  • http://www.facebook.com/rthoneunomia.celine Threedinium

    Not entirely sure why but the the montage was very emotional.

    edit: No wait. I know why.

  • Sonnenritter

    More meaningless self congratulation by feminists.

  • Ted Heistman

    These conferences attract people that have the money to spend to go to them. Seems like the more you spend on your ticket the more flattering a title you get. like “golden Angel of Abundance” http://gatherthewomen2012registration.eventbrite.com/

    I’d be curious to see how many ten dollar tickets were available as opposed to the ones in the $100-500 range and who got the best seats.

    This seems like a theme with a lot of “New Age” type conferences, not just this one. Even TED talks cater to the wealthy. Of course, money makes the World go round and these conferences cost money. They do end up being skewed demographically, because of that.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mommiewolf Linda Wolf

      Yes, Ted, this is true. There is an effort made to include all women. $20 general seating is offered at the above link, and there is no seating hierarchy as these are usually rooms filled with round tables and anyone can sit anywhere, and I’m sure no cap on the # of tickets at the $20 range. The women who run these conferences have good intentions and do a lot of good. It’s very complicated, as well as easy to understand, why it is predominately white. Ask any woman of color why she might not be interested in attending. There is a very important conference that happens yearly called, White Privilege Conference. It is a great mixture of people. WPC is not about beating up white folk – it is about facing what we are dealing with that still exists, in much of it’s complexity and having conversations so that we can be part of the greater change. We have a long way to go, but I am confident we are on the path to getting there. Between more and more women around the world waking up and supporting each other to be empowered in ways that keep us from being harmed, psychologically as well as physically, and more and more men waking up to see the cost to them not to be able to be whole human beings, inclusive of all the principles attributed to the feminine, and becoming more centered in compassion, and thus become allies, perhaps we will be able to become a community of human beings on this planet who work together for the best of life we can co-create here. I am certainly neither an expert or do I have a great capacity to articulate what I feel at my core, but I am trying to bring forth a felt sense of the kind of world I want my children and grandchildren to be living in and contributing to. It may be a losing battle. The Earth may just shake us off as parasites who don’t take care of the incredible blessings we have here. The Earth may not care one iota about us! But, I care about us. And I want others to care and I hope this small video touches those who are open to it and help create more love in the world… if nothing else, help people simply to expand to include others, who are different from them, and be curious to learn about their lives. It is rare we get to look into the eyes of women in such a deep way as these women have allowed me. We are more similar than different, essentially.

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