A lot has happened to women in the last month, but not enough has happened FOR women.
When news of Sabina Nessa’s murder (finally) broke, the world was (once again) reeling and women were (as always) angry. Angry that another woman had been killed by a man. That the story had been buried way down at the very bottom of our newsfeeds because Sabina wasn’t white. Full of white hot fiery rage at the simple fact that the world was shocked, surprised, saddened when in fact the murder of women is now no longer anything out of the ordinary.
I read many articles published in the wake of her death and re-read many more about Sarah Everard. I wrote a poem ‘I don’t walk, I run (but not at night)’ that happened to go viral along with others written by women similar to me. We just happen to be able to put our words in the right order so that other people feel something when they read them. We use our writing as both fuel and fire.
And then, while the world was still professing its outrage, Emily Ratajkowski told us she’d been groped by Robin Thicke on the set of his music video for Blurred Lines. She said it was a reminder that she was “just the naked girl”. Just another naked girl. Just another girl.
Her experience prompted me to think about being naked vs. nakedness. What we choose to reveal and what remains ours. I wrote about not wearing thong underwear anymore, deciding instead to stop hiding the fact that – yes, I wear underwear. Just before I posted the piece, I paused. Suddenly anxious about how it would be read and whether it would be yanked firmly from its context.
But I know the wild power of women’s words. Because what comes from keeping women quiet? Silencing our voices has given us the space to see and hear much more clearly than those doing all the talking. We’ve sat and we’ve watched and we’ve listened. I feel the tide rising and the churn of words and waves that have been tamed for too long. Now I read more poems and articles about what women have seen than ever before. I learnt about Sabina Nessa’s murder, not from the colonised news outlets but a female journalist Katrina Mirpuri who is determined not to let missing women go unreported.
I am learning about women from the women whose words can’t be contained. Love it or loathe it, social media is a very big hole in the patriarchy’s dam. Holding us back for so long has only forced us to find new outlets; rivulets, slipstreams and channels where our stories might slip through. And now women’s words are washing up on the shore of a society that is running out of ways to bottle them up.
So I posted my poem about thongs. And I shared another woman’s piece on all the sexist things men say to her at work. I keep reading and I can’t stop writing. At blood moon POETRY we opened submissions for a publication we’re calling ‘Trigger Warning’ and received over 50 poems in 3 days from women writing about their experiences of sexual assault and violence.
Yes, the women are writing. Because a lot has happened to us and now we’re writing for us.