In the past they burned us,
because they thought we were witches.
Just because we knew what to do with herbs outside the kitchen
because we knew how to dance, how to seduce, how to pray.
Because we moved with the cycles of the moon.
In the past they burned us alive
because they knew that we are witches.
So now we cast spells with our mouths
pieces of our hearts spill out.
It is incredible, the power of a woman
who is not afraid to say ‘no’.
No we won’t sit any longer while you ponder on our rights.
On our rights to give or not give life.
On our rights to make another woman our wife.
On our rights to be safe, to get paid an equal wage.
To have a voice, in a place where we might make a change.
It is incredible, the amount of ways they have slayed just to keep us small.
If they could’ve they probably would’ve burned us all.
But they couldn’t with fire so they did it with words.
Laid down laws to determine the amount of our worth.
They kept us in contracts.
They separated our circles.
Erased us from pages
and made labour saving devices our saviors.
It is incredible how quickly knowledge can fade.
How much effort was invested to lead us astray.
But we will not come quietly.
Well, there’s another thing they tried to take away.
Our rights to exclaim our orgasms ecstatically.
We will not come quietly.
We will open our mouths and let our spells spill out.
Cast poetic prayers into the night so that every woman
can hear the howl of her sister’s delight,
reminding her that her voice deserves to be heard.
Let her jaw drop. Let her shame stop.
Let her body scream under the self pleasure of
what it means to be a woman who can speak freely.
You see words, they carry meaning.
They have fooled us for so long that ‘no’ means ‘yes’.
So much so that I’m almost impressed.
Except I finally discovered they’re right.
So I’ve claimed back that ‘no’ as mine.
Because every ‘no’ I throw against their forces
is another ‘yes’ I retain for my own self-worth.
It is a spell cast for my own protection.
It is incredible, the power of a woman
who is not afraid to say NO.
And this old witch?
I’m done with broomsticks.
I’m done with ‘know your place’.
This witch knows that some knowledge
just won’t fade.
That every woman is my sister.
Through the hubble and the bubble
and the toil and the trouble
we grow stronger
when we cast our spells together.
We entered the fire.
Now we rise from the ashes
and we are holding our candles
and lighting our matches
until the night becomes lighter
and our voices can grow
because we have remembered
we are witches
and we have learned to say ‘NO’.
What a great article about the creative process. And what a #BadassWoman!
When Judy Chicago’s piece, The Dinner Party, was first shown 40 years ago. It was maligned by most art critics. Revolutionary art usually is. But Judy simply kept following her vision, kept creating. And the rest of the world eventually caught up to her.
Now in her 70’s, Judy Chicago is still a take no prisoners kind of artist. I’m in awe.
I believe in art that is connected to real human feeling, that extends itself beyond the limits of the art world to embrace all people who are striving for alternatives in an increasingly dehumanized world. I am trying to make art that relates to the deepest and most mythic concerns of human kind and I believe that, at this moment of history, feminism is humanism.
~Judy Chicago, 1979
“… She wants everyone to see her art and to understand it, so that it might change them and the world.
And it has. Once your eye is trained to see Chicago’s imprint, it is everywhere, and unmistakable. It’s in Petra Collins’s menstruation-positive T-shirts; in the forthcoming installation on Sunset Boulevard in L.A. by Zoe Buckman of a huge uterus drawn in neon tubing crowned with boxing gloves; in the pink “pussy hats” that are worn in opposition to Trump’s election. Images like these — symbolically overt, politically and anatomically in-your-face, forcing a public confrontation with sexism — are all descended from Chicago’s imagination…” ~Sasha Weiss, NY Times
I am pondering all the #BadassWomen who came before me, demanding equality and justice for all…
Susan B Anthony and Alice Paul, jailed for demanding women be allowed to vote,
Margaret Sanger, jailed for distributing birth control to poor women of all colors,
belle hooks writing eloquently about all forms of oppression,
Gloria Steinem and Coretta Scott King co-founding NOW,
Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to win a seat in Congress,
Ruth Bader Ginsburg working for women’s justice for decades,
Audre Lorde raising her pen for lesbian sexuality…
The list goes on and on. None of them were perfect women, and they all faced doubts and struggles. But all of them spoke and acted from a sense of deep conviction. And all of them were #BadassWomen. And they changed the world.
I am so GRATEFUL that these women spoke their truth and paved the way to get us this far. And the work continues.
My maternal grandmother had 8 children. Her first baby was stillborn, but the other seven lived to adulthood.
Birthing and raising 7 children was no small feat for a poor woman in a southern Illinois mining town. My mom told stories of tough times when the family only had bread and butter to eat for dinner. She spoke of wearing the same dress to high school every day because it was the only one she owned. They were dirt poor. Even though my grandpa worked 6 long days each week in the coal mines, his salary simply was not big enough to keep them all fed and clothed.
The struggle to survive left my grandma tired and angry. That’s how I remember her – tired and angry. I rarely saw her smile. Grandma had little reason to smile. She lived to be 90 years old, but much of her life was just plain hard.
Is this the life my grandmother dreamed of when she was young? Somehow I doubt it. But with no birth control and little money, what other choices were available to her?
My grandmother needed choices. Grandma deserved to have control over her own body, control over how many children she would birth and raise. She is why I am a feminist today. Every woman deserves to choose how many children she will bear. Every woman deserves the right to say No, I simply cannot feed, clothe and raise another child.
So, yes, I’m a feminist.
I’m a feminist who believes that every woman should control her own body, life and destiny.
I’m a feminist who demands that poor women have free access to birth control.
I’m a feminist who insists that abortion be legal and available in every corner of this country.
I’m a feminist who stands up for the rights of poor women, black women, gay women, abused women… ALL women.
Most of all I’m a feminist because of my grandma. I keep standing up and speaking up because of her.
“I am not free while any woman is unfree,
even when her shackles are very different from my own.”
Lots of women are online today lecturing the women who marched in one of the Women’s Marches across the country. Apparently, lots of women feel the need to dictate to other women exactly how they should protest… even telling them not to feel happy about a peaceful march, insisting that the peace and joy the marchers experienced was all bogus because the crowd was “too white.” Lots of women are also lecturing other women about the best way to support minority women. Lots of women are judging and guilting and dismissing other women today… Is this really helpful?!
Sorry ladies, but you don’t get to define me. You don’t get to dictate what my protests look like. You don’t get to guilt me simply because I’m a middle class white woman. You don’t get to tell me what kind of sign to carry or hat to wear when I protest. You don’t get to dismiss me because I marched with a smile and didn’t scream in rage and burn shit. You don’t get to poo poo my commitment because I don’t protest the way you do.
I will choose when and how I take political action. I will choose when and how I speak out and act. It is MY choice, NOT YOURS!
When one group lectures another about how to behave and how to feel, it sounds suspiciously like old patriarchal Bullshit to me – even when women do it to other women.
EVERY woman needs the space to take political action and express herself in the way that’s most appropriate to her WITHOUT being judged and lectured by other women – and that includes white women from the suburbs!
We won’t fix this mess by telling one group of women to shut up and stuff their feelings, their needs, their wisdom in order to serve another group of women who now take precedence.
We want change, right? Real change? That requires creating a space where ALL women can dialogue with each other and be heard with respect and love. That’s true inclusivity.
“The language by which we have been taught
to dismiss ourselves and our feelings as suspect
is the same language we use to dismiss and suspect each other.”