“Witch, bitch, slut, whore, murderer, cunt, up-yourself, dangerous,show-off, cult leader”
These are some of the names I’ve been called in the last few years by both men and women. (The murderer part was for speaking about my experience of abortion). I believe the reason I get so much hatred is because I’m a Powerful Woman.
I know that me even saying that about myself is going to irk some people. How dare I claim to be a Powerful woman! I don’t have power in the patriarchal sense of power - I have no political sway, no cash to use to exert power, I am not the head of any company and I don’t claim to speak for large groups of people. My Power comes from within.
My Power is self-appointed, self-annointed. I’ve bestowed the title on myself. It doesn’t make me better than anyone else, and most of the women I know are also Powerful Women. If you’ve survived to adulthood in a world that hates you and wants you on your knees you are a Powerful Woman in my book.
The source of my Power comes from liking myself. It comes from loving myself in a way that scares the hell out of some people. It comes from soaking up the nasty hatred that has come my way and accepting it as the energy it is. When someone would be horrible to me my dear friend would say, “It’s only energy, good or bad it’s all the same, they’re giving you their energy — soak it up.” I can’t claim to be successful at this approach all the time but for the most part I imbue the energy being given to me and add it to myself. Sometimes I’ve done this in ways that subverted the slurs. After being called (amongst other things) a show-off I created a headpiece that said “Show Off” and wore it to a public event where I knew some of my detractors would be.
How this world hates and fears Powerful Women. I can't think of one contemporary or historical woman who had power who wasn’t vilified and in some cases murdered for it. Powerful Women upset the patriarchal order of things. Women aren’t supposed to like themselves, they’re not supposed to be happy, they’re not supposed to live without a man, or have lots of children outside of marriage, they’re not supposed to like sex and if they do then they’re not supposed to talk about it.
The main message I’ve received as a girl and as a woman was to make myself small and quiet. I don’t think I’m alone in that. I think most girls are encouraged to make themselves as small as they can and to stay quiet about the wrongs done to them. I’m still unlearning this teaching, so ingrained is it in me. It’s the learning that taught me there was no point in reporting the rape that happened to me. It’s the learning that kept me in an abusive relationship for far too long. It’s dangerous learning that harms women.
Un-learning is difficult. Not caring about what other people think about you is hard work and when you succeed people can sense it about you and some of them will hate you for it. There are people where I live who call me a “Dangerous Woman”. I suspect had I lived 200 years ago I’d be tried for a witch. But they are right. I am dangerous, dangerous in the sense that I’m over pretending to be something I’m not. I don’t want to play-act the role I’m supposed to.
That’s why I share and write and tell my truth, even when it makes people uncomfortable — like writing about enjoying sex, or why sometimes motherhood sucks and why I wouldn’t “die for my children”, or why we should focus on how many men are rapists rather than how many women will be raped, or why most people are fucking hypocrites about abuse and will staunchly support the abuser in their life if it comes to it and throw victims under the bus.
I’m still making my way to a more authentic version of myself though, I’m nowhere near done yet. I can feel her, this bigger even-more-powerful Me, her fingers gently tearing away the layers of my self-doubt, my lack of worth, my blind spots and beliefs that hold me back. She’s peeling them off bit by bit, to make room for her emergence. She’s taking her time but I can sense her fingers breaking through. Oh the names they will call me then.