My generation, the X-ers of Australian women, were hopeful of a feminist future much like this tree:
Strong, swollen with recognition and wisdom. A canopy rich with diversity and deep roots. Holding power to account and in place for future generations.
Alas this tree is how I feel today on International Women’s Day 2021:
I feel exposed and lacking acuity. One woman in a nation of women triggered by political spin-doctoring, entrenched entitlement and the silencing of women’s experiences of sexual assault and harassment. I feel unable to ‘give’ any more nourishment or knowledge. Spent. Tired.
Starting university at 45 years old I believed education would give me something I perceived I lacked — a ‘superior’, cartesian mind point of view and understanding of the complexities of culture.
I have learned, unlearned and relearned much. Education has certainly raised a lot of questions and interrogated my positioning and whiteness.
I am so grateful for the feminist scholars encountered along the way. de Beauvoir, Ahmed, Mohanty, hooks, Beard, Doyle, Solnit, Butler, Anzeldua, Moreton-Robinson, Lorde, Morgan have all provided breakthroughs for me to reflect on my own life and embodied knowledges and others’ standpoints.
In the final stretch of my ‘undergrad at 50’ I was enthusiastic about the possibilities of feminist research — to contribute to research grounded in the embodied experiences and lives of all women. The 99%.
But, today my feminism feels precarious.
It is situated on a fault line of tension, trauma, coloniality, anger and resistance.
Tension resides in my mind — learning, thinking, grasping for ‘truth.’
Tension resides in my body — being, doing, risking its healing.
Tension lies between my inner and outer worlds, entangled in my communities and expectations of self and others and others of me.
I feel a burden to ‘do’ the work of ‘yet more feminism’ whilst I seek to realise more action from the work already done.
I am a non-Indigenous Australian woman.
I pay my respects to the Turrubul and Yagera/Yugura Peoples as the custodians of the lands where I work, study and live. I acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded.