One of the most insidious aspects of the patriarchy is the way it divides and conquers. Everywhere I look women are struggling on their own.
Some women are struggling to care for small babies. Burdened by the demands of caring for young children on their own. Hour upon hour of changing nappies, singing nursery rhymes, feeding young ones. Isolation and boredom pervasive, no village to support her.
Some women are speaking up against power – at work, online, in politics – and they’re doing it alone. People aren’t rushing in to support them. They’re standing on the sidelines, glad it’s not them that’s being attacked or criticised.
Some women are saying no to bullies and being ridiculed or diminished because of it.
Some women are finding themselves homeless as they age, society turning its back on its nurturers at the very moment when they most need support.
Some women are finding themselves depressed or anxious, recovering from sexualised trauma, and ashamed that they aren’t tougher or more resilient, or worse, that they deserve to be punished.
Some women choose to speak up about their experiences only to find themselves the victim of mansplaining; being told that what they’re saying isn’t about gender. Being lectured on whether or not something is a gendered experience by someone who has never experienced gendered oppression. Finding themselves subjected to gaslighting by the very people they thought would have their backs, would listen to their stories, would believe their account.
Communication is meant to lead to understanding, connection, and collaboration. At the moment it seems to be causing greater division, separation, and huge frustration. It takes a very clear voice and clarity of purpose to break through the cacophony of social and traditional media, television, books, and entertainment generally.
If we want to be heard – about anything at all – we have to speak together. Alone we’re a single voice. Together we can be heard.
Over the next week, I wonder if you’ll consider how you can support another woman? Look for opportunities to speak up in support of another woman, after she has spoken up. Whether it’s in a meeting, on social media, amongst your group of friends, or when someone is actively trying to silence her. Make sure the world knows you’re with her. That you’ve got her back.
And if you want to join a group of women banding together and supporting one another to be more vocal and visible in the world, the Visibility Challenge starts on Monday. Find out more and join us here.