I’m fucking done with HIS – story. It is time for HER – Story.
The world we live in is changing.
The female revolution is upon us.
I see a future for us – our Great Grandmothers could never have dreamed of.
I see a freedom for us – we have been fighting for, for too long.
I see a world where Women support each other instead of competing against one another. A world where we can feel safe, supported, valued, heard and seen.
I see a world where our place is not in the shadows, not on the sideline, not behind the scenes but centre stage directly beside Man – where we have always belonged.
Here and now – we rise.
For our Grandmothers.
Who grew up in a time the world insisted a woman’s place was in the home, and if she was to ever venture out in public – that she try to remain invisible. We are here now to take up as much space as you could not.
For our Mothers.
Who craft and hold us inside of their bodies then carry us into this world and beyond – all while juggling their passions, lives, jobs, bills, dinner, while providing a warm bed and the safety of a roof over our heads. To the greatest composer of all time – we will take all that you teach us and impart with us to do our bit to follow in the steps you have carved out for us to kick ass in this world we were always meant to be deeply valued in.
For our Sisters.
Who gift us the love and adoration we too often deny ourselves. All while giving it their all to aid in the shifting of this old mentality amid healing their wounds, fighting their battles, building their empires and believing in themselves as this world tries to determine their worth with false images, decimal points on small screens and material manure. We are here now to uplift and hold steady the feet upon one another’s shoulders as we band together to rise.
For our Daughters.
May you aspire to be fierce Amazonian woman – not mini Cinderella’s – for you are the Queen’s who rule almighty, not the Princesses’ needing to be saved
May you know that you can be anything you desire to be and gender norms can get fucked.
May you know that you are so much more than “pretty” – you are intelligent, witty, hilarious, soft, caring, kind, creative, expressive, bold, brave, silly, crazy, fun, genuine and then some!!!
May you know its right to use “No” to stay in service to yourself.
May you love yourself wildly and irrevocably without fear or rejection.
May you know that you are beautiful no matter what weight, shape or size.
May you know of the power that lies between your thighs.
The world we live in is changing.
The female revolution is upon us.
-Tayla Joy Rapira
I was 22, married (but that’s a whole other story).. And the pregnancy test said POSITIVE. I was awestruck to say the least. I lay in bed trying to feel the cells dividing deep within in me… yet physically, I felt nothing…. but there was a definite magical excitement brewing… I could not sleep for days as when I was alone in the dark all the wonder and curiosities of life, birth and motherhood engulfed me, the joy was intense.
The first midwife I met was “the one.” She had very long sandy blond hair that ran all the way down her back, she told me that she spent every Sunday washing it in a ritualistic way- Of course she was the one! Her excitement for my pregnancy mirrored mine, her blue eyes watered with joy as we chatted in her home about this journey I was on. Her honesty and openness was new to me, and contagious, I felt her warm love and I bathed in it. She was to be my guidance and I put all my faith in her, and she put all her faith in me.
The initial joy I felt stayed with me the whole pregnancy. There was also emotional roller coasters, cleansing and transforming which was at times strong. Most days were filled with excited talk about what the baby would look like, what motherhood would be like… hopes and dreams.
I chose to birth my baby at home. It seemed like a reasonable choice, yet I wasn’t prepared for the negative reactions thrown at me. Your baby could die, what if the cord is around the babies neck, you are not an animal etc, every single person had a scary idea to plant in my head. Yet I knew that if I could get a baby in me, surely I could get it out. There seemed to be much effort to pop bubble of joy… but I protected that joy bubble with my life. Even my husband said “go to the hospital where the medicine is.” I replied “when I go into labour, you can wait at the hospital with the medicine (not sure what the medicine was for) and I will birth our baby at home, come join me if you like:” I refused to allow others negativity to penetrate me, I felt sacred and relished the joy of carrying a baby in my womb. I’m a magic woman.
One night before bed, I went to the loo and noticed my mucous plug coming away!! Intense excitement! My head spun and I wondered if I should phone the news… I mean shit, Im about to give birth… nothing ever felt so news worthy. Instead, I smiled at my magical self and went to bed. I awoke in the night to surges, it felt like a special little secret that I kept all to myself, rolling it around in my heart, till the morning. When I told my husband he reacted in panic, which was alarming for me…. so I sent him to work and told him I would call him if things progressed. I called my friend, who also panicked…. right! That’s it! I’m a magic woman and the deep sense of calm that flowed through me didn’t need disturbance, so I also told her that I’d call her when things changed.
I went for a walk with a big pad between my legs as my waters were leaking. I enjoyed being within myself, knowing my baby was on his way, protecting my joy, my sense of inner grace and trust, keeping myself safe from others desecration. I felt sacred, and I needed to protect that.
As the day went on my surges intensified. Dark came, my mother and twelve year old sister arrived. I got to a point where I didn’t know what to do with the sensations as they were so strong. Panic started to trickle in…. I phoned the midwife.
I shut myself in my bedroom in the dark and felt scared, how can I do this? It hurts way more than I thought it would, way more than I ever could have imagined. What do I do with this pain?? And then it dawned on me, I cannot escape this, it’s coming whether I’m ready or not. That’s when I let go, resistance stepped graciously out of the way, my mind left and there was just quiet. The dark comforted me and I began to instinctively rock left to right during the surges, this helped. When my midwife Lyndel came, she bought in her aura of calm and her empathetic watery blue eyes that said “I’m here with you, I see where you are, I trust you.” She whispered to my husband to start filling the pool in the lounge and I rocked through the night in the darkness, and security of my own quiet bedroom.
I hoped in the pool of water exhausted, eyes closed. It felt good but I wanted it to take the pain away… it didn’t. The intensity doubled, or did it triple? I don’t know, there was no thought, I was just being. When the surges came I roared, I roared deep and long and loud and was shocked that I made such sounds. But it felt so so good to express the enormity of power that was overtaking me. I roared deep into the night. It seemed to never end. In between surges I hung my arms over the side of the pool, my husband held my shoulders (he didn’t end up going to the hospital for some reason..), and there was such profound stillness, nothingness, complete rejuvenation, and when a surge came, I grabbed my husbands arms and ROARED. The student midwife pressed the pressure points in my back and my mother put hot towels on my back and my sister rolled her eyes and thought I was rather dramatic.. This continued until the early hours of the morning when…I heard my roars change tone as the baby came down lower and lower. I stepped out of the pool to change positions and the next surge bought me to my knees, he was coming!…. ohhh the feeling was so deep, I began to whimper, and then a stinging sensation… ahhh they told me about this. I wasn’t scared. I heard my mother say “Oh he has juicy lips and lots of hair,” Oh she can see him! I marvelled!.. !! I felt his head birth!
The next moments here lingered as I awaited the next surge, in limbo between pregnancy and birth, between me and motherhood, there was peace, there was total trust and surrender. Some form of being witness to all the miracles of the universe, to creation itself! It was the initiation!
The next surge came and my baby’s body came out of mine! My eyes were closed and feelings gushed over me like a powerful waterfall. Pure elation, joy, AWE. I scooped him up on to my chest. His arm reached up to me, we looked into each others eyes and I began to cry rather loudly. He didn’t, he just peacefully watched, he was so alert, so present.
“I did it!”
“Hello little guy”
“I did it!!”
He was perfect of course. All babies are. Brand new and perfect. And there was that joy that I had held within me my whole pregnancy! Only far bigger than I could have ever even imagined! Love was as powerful as the birth, I cried for every mother, I WAS every mother! Every mother was ME! I felt the universe, I was Mother Nature and wow she is magic!
After birthing the placenta, my midwife tucked me into bed and lit a candle. She sat with me in those quiet early hours of the morning and told me how amazing I was, told me of my power, the power of woman.
The way she cared and loved me has inspired the work I do now as a Birth Doula. I walk with women to the gates of initiation. They have to walk through themselves. I am just there believing in them, encouraging them, holding the space. I get to witness the power of women at every birth I attend. It is a sacred event- to witness the act of love in its highest form.
– Grace Redgrave @ciclo_create
I ask myself what it is to be a woman? A question I had rarely considered until recently. A question provoked by societal disparities, injustices, differences, changes, by both silent and loud revolutions.
I look at myself in the mirror and I see the remnants of my ancestors, the women who came before me, who live in me, who are inbuilt in my DNA.
Their struggles passed down through generations. Their strength flows through my bloodstream. Their voices echo in my ancestral mind. My sub conscious history.
I ask myself what it is to be a woman. I, for a long time avoided the notion of femininity, that I could be feminine – being 14 when I came out I thought that’s who I had to be; Masculine, boyish, tough, resilient – non-female.
It worked. I tuned myself to be one of the boys. Short hair, boy clothes. I walked like a boy, I talked like a boy. I joined in conversations that degraded other women because I wanted to be something other than what society had said I should be.
I didn’t want to have the emotional intelligence that most of the women in my life had. I didn’t want to carry the fear that most women have had to carry. I didn’t want to be seen as weak, easy to control; a victim.
Of course the weakness was in me. Beyond this facade the weakness was always present. Each moment I went against myself, each time I joined in on a degrading joke, each time I humoured a man with bad intentions so I could avoid confrontation. Being a boy seemed easier, more comfortable, secure, safer.
It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that my eyes and heart began to open. I became more myself, mostly due to listening, always listening.
I needed to hear the struggles, the traumas, the strengths and celebrations of every woman, sister and mother in my life. I needed to listen before I could contribute. Before I could believe that my self was enough to be a part of this immensely beautiful reality.
In belief of this followed a multitude of spiritual awakenings, of connections that extend beyond this dimension. In belief of this allowed me to find my voice to speak out against injustices, to embrace my womanhood and not be afraid that someone could damage it or take it away from me.
So I ask myself today, as I’ve travelled through the thickness of my journey and as I’ve witnessed the journey of others in my path, what it is to be a woman?
Such a question is too great to answer, too powerful for words. What it is, is a feeling, a sense, an intuition.
– Bri Reddy
behind the scenes, in between the sheets.
finding your best angle, dressing yourself up.
telling a new story.
death to the patriarchy, death to the patriarchy, death to the patriarchy.
burnt, re-birthed, witnessing.
sisters in the blood.
Photos by Sara Cowdell
I wear beneath my skin
(underwear I think they call it) a callous patience that is waiting
to undermine your oppressive binary opposition
between the inside and the outside and
what has to be cohesive in art, the impersonal
in poetry I so resent because it is
bullshit. Can you tell — through the whiteness of my pale-ass
thighs, the indestructibility of my athlete’s
feet — the competition, hot coals at the surface — can you see
through my soles to the quick burn of the sun that makes me go pink —
I’m not blushing. I’m talking about sunburn. I’m talking
about my pink and silky, flowery, fuck-me deliberate
underwear and my pubes that peek out defiantly
in binary opposition to the labour costs of aesthetic vulnerability.
Poetry? Or pussy? It’s all quite unconventional these days.
And I’m pondering an overwhelming question that you pose about
ladies and perfume and the validity of a messianic impulse
that comes too early, two-thirds in… to say:
Can you tell (because it’s taken us a while to get here,
and I suspect that you’ve misread the situation),
can you tell what I’m talking about?
Oh digressions on digressions on digressions…
“That is not what I meant, at all.”
– Emma Thompson