By Thais Cardon
On Friday night, I felt a deep connection with every person sitting in a crowded, hot Espressini at 9pm. I felt a lot of pain, sadness and fury, but most of all deep pride to have been a part of something so empowering.
Though “empowerment” is a bit of an overused buzzword, in this situation no other word is better suited. As one woman told us, the terrible experiences some of us have undergone, when we share them with such a supportive community, become something that brings us collective power and strength. People we see every day, good friends whom we saw as carefree and “fine”, told us of terrible things which have been done to them and I personally felt incredibly blessed to have been entrusted with stories that are still globally viewed as shameful and taboo.
So I have two messages to share on this platform. The first is to those women I heard today and sat amongst.
You are strong, powerful and beautiful. Thank you for giving us your stories – you simultaneously took power from your abusers and shared this power with all of us. This may have been a small event in a small town in a small part of a western, developed country, but we heard one another and I will remember this forever. One of us said that it was impossible to define what womanhood is. Far from me to attempt answering that question – but I can offer something we all have in common: pain. We sometimes minimise our own stories because they seem puny in comparison to that of others, but we share degrees of pain. Pain linked to oppression, violence, patriarchy, colonialism, double standards and beauty standards. I can only wish with all my heart that one of us will live until the day when beauty means living your truth and being kind, and that violence is inscribed in history textbooks for our great grandchildren to learn from our mistakes and shake their heads in disbelief at how unfair the world was in our day.
The second message is to all of those who wonder how they can contribute to feminism.
Read our stories. Listen to our voices – ignorance is the root of all this pain. Raise your sons and daughters to respect every human being regardless of appearance or convictions, stand up against violence and cruelty, and to be safe all the while knowing that violence inflicted upon you by others is not your shame nor your fault. Remind yourself daily to think twice about your judgements on people – oppressive systems are rooted into our subconscious and you must consciously fight them by always questioning your judgements.
Thank you to all the people who made this project a reality (not just this volume but all of them) and I hope, as Oprah Winfrey has said, that we can one day live in a world “where nobody ever has to say ‘me too’”.
All images by Enrico Artuso