Even as I write this I am scared of what you will think. This topic can be very uncomfortable.
Right now, there is a real push to fight patriarchy by empowering women – standing in friendship and straightening each other’s crowns. This is AWESOME, and I’m in total support. However, this doesn’t take away the fact that sometimes we must say difficult things to each other – critiquing and questioning.
What I’ve noticed is that often, Indigenous, Brown, Black, Women of Color, and other marginalized women face pushback when we have difficult things to say – especially when we are speaking about racial violence and exoticism we face FROM OTHER WOMEN.
Often, we are told that we are overly loud, aggressive , etc... This happens to me – and it happens to many of the women I admire, love, and respect.
The flip side of this is: I have also been the girl who, in my own ignorance, felt excluded or hurt when I was called to task on taking up space in ways that were inappropriate – when my tears became manifestation of my own fragility. I felt decentered in a conversation where I had become accustomed to being centered – although I often didn’t realize it at the time.
I get it. No one likes to hear that they are reinforcing a problematic attitude or system – but its necessary to hear these things if we are going to move forward.
We cannot escape the system under which we live. Part of overcoming violence towards women is understanding and changing the violent behaviors we have learned and internalized as a means of protecting ourselves. If we want to live decolonially we have a responsibility to work through these pieces of ourselves. The irony is that sometimes we have normalized these behaviors to the point where we might not even see them as hurtful, and it takes another person telling us for us to see.
I had this shirt made because I am tired of being told that I am too much, too assertive, too sassy, too angry, too radical – a mean girl - when I have difficult things to say. At first, these sorts of comments would bring me to my knees as I tried to frantically stuff back my unpopular opinions. But, the more I read about other women facing the same issue – the less I want to do that. I don’t want to hold my tongue, and to my fellow decolonial mean girls: I don’t want you to either.
Instead, I think we need to get better at hearing difficult things, actively listening and asking better questions regarding how we might do better.
This work is messy – and all of us are still learning.