SO, WHAT EXACTLY IS A WOMAN’S PLACE?
At the Yellow Conference 2016, I had the honor of sharing a poem to kick off day two, accompanied by a team of extremely talented dancers. In that piece, I talked about how it was time that we as women take our place at the table—the brainstorming, dreaming, creating table seated with everyone else. I think that 2016 was the rise of the voices; the rise of powerful, earth shattering, not so soft anymore voices of women from all over the world and I was honored to be part of it.
I grew up with a certain skillfulness in the art of talking—the ability to string words together in ways that I am still learning the power of. In the majority of my family videos, you can find me on scene with a plastic microphone in my hand, matching plastic shoes, standing on whatever the nearest elevated platform was near me. I made up songs, never ending dialogue, stories—you name it; the art of creating with words has been embedded in me for as long as I can remember. I grew up not fully knowing it was acceptable for me to me to be both woman and communicator. I grew up with the tension of being a person of faith, a woman AND a communicator. I watched my mother give her first sermon from leveled floor, rather than a stage, so that she was “equal” with everyone else while two weeks earlier a twelve year old boy gave his from the elevated pulpit with authority. I heard one too many times about where a woman should be, how and if a woman should lead, and with the friction of knowing that I was made for more than the boxes I was continuously being placed in.
I was not created to be small and I was not born to be silent.
There are novels, books, poems, stories just ready to leap out, to be told, and who am I to tell them that they can’t? Why is it that for years upon years the issue of a woman’s ability to speak, be heard and seen as equal resides in question? All I can think of is fear—the need to push woman to the outskirts is nothing but a result of fear.
Women, we are powerful.
Mountains crumbling into the sea, feet hit the ground and the earth starts shaking kind of powerful. We are the life carriers and givers, we are the movers and shakers, we are just as much dirty, grit filled hands as everyone else BECAUSE WE DO THE WORK TOO.
For years women have been fighting for a voice, fighting to be heard, to be taken seriously, and now, with the road paved, I get to work with my voice— but not without limitations, not without still being told to sit down, be quiet and know my place. Here’s the thing: Your “place” is wherever you feel you have purpose, in whatever calling means to you—that’s where you belong, that is your place.
When we speak, when we work, when we create business foundations that will outlast us, we are continuing the process of chiseling away at the horrible assumption that we are not powerful. We are daily cutting down the walls that keep us from believing that we are not capable, we are not qualified. And we’re not just doing this for us right now, for this moment or even for this generation in this day and age…no, we are doing it for the all the generations to follow. We do this for the girls who will one day not even hesitate to dream of being President of this country, for the girls who will know less apologies and more confidence, who will speak with unwavering voices.
When we speak, when we work, when we create business foundations that will outlast us, we are continuing the process of chiseling away at the horrible assumption that we are not powerful.
I think 2017 is the year women run in roaring, we’ve been silenced for too long. This is the year we don’t play nice, and this is the year you write that book you’ve been so terrified to let fall out of your hands because of the “be quiet” you’ve heard for way too long. We will have people daily telling us where they think we belong and what they think we should or should not be doing. It is your job to stand at the very top of the nearest mountain top and sing with all your might because you have a song and it’s time the world heard it.
In yoga class they tell you to take up all the space you need on your mat—so here we are, on this mat and Honey, I’m telling you —take up the space, take up all the space you need and know that it is not too much, you are not too much.
This is our year.
Photos of Yellow 2016 by Cacá Santoro