- Emma Louise Alvarez
(Still) Reclaiming the Narrative: I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar
© Photography by Rad Pozniakov
Today is International Women’s Day, but what is supposed to be a celebratory annual occurrence is shrouded in anger and anguish.
As time passes, it is with an instilled hope, a quiet kind of rebellion, that we assume that ‘things get better.’ That there’s equal pay in every country, every economy, and every business. That we have equal rights. That we have a right to our bodies and a right to choose. That maybe, our great-grandmothers and mothers have fought enough. That our ancestors have suffered enough. That we have done enough.
Instead, headlines rock the world of the criminalisation of abortion; violence and disappearance; oppression; and poisoning. A poisoning of body, but also of mind. The kind of rhetoric that takes place in these online spaces is dangerous - headlines sensationalising the disappearance of Nicola Bulley, claiming she had issues because of alcohol use and menopause, perpetuates viciously false narratives of women somehow being ‘at fault’ for what happens to them. That we are somehow responsible for our own deaths and disappearances. From dozens of school girls being poisoned in Iran to 50 women kidnapped in Burkina Faso, there is an epidemic of violence against women.
I was intending to write an uplifting and empowering article, but there is too much say to fill the silence between the headlines of victim-blaming and sensationalism and the realities of millions of women subjected to violence worldwide. Too much to say and too much to do.
So instead, let me say this: you are made of power. A kind of quiet strength, brimming at the edges and threatening to boil over when we hear of headlines of violence and pain, of anger and anguish. The energy flowing through you means you are capable of achieving whatever you put your mind to. The power to self-empower. That is what you are capable of.
Recently, I wrote about ‘The World in Numbers,’ a social-media-based call-to-action: to not become desensitised to the horrors of the world. And I know it’s so easy to get overwhelmed by what’s happening in the news and to just want to turn everything off. I get that. But there is no power in silence. Sometimes even listening is an act of resistance. Because we choose to pay attention. We choose to listen to those who are silenced.
From perpetuating cycles of war and violence to faraway headlines of faraway catastrophes - it feels like humanity is at a breaking point. So what does an ‘irresistible revolution’ look like? Maybe it’s time for one.
For peace, for future generations, and to end human suffering. Maybe it’s time for a revolution of love and hope, understanding and tolerance.
© Photography by Craig Melville
At my most naive, idealist self, I believe in a kind of magic. A non-tangible energy of possibility. And this is how I (like to) imagine human life at its core: art, life, and freedom, different expressions of that possibility.
My brother and his wife have recently welcomed their second child: a beautiful baby girl. And holding her, I decided to sing her Miley Cyrus’s most recent hit Flowers. (Because, logically, what else is there to do when you’re trying to lull a newborn back to sleep.)
Because you can buy yourself flowers. Take yourself dancing. And I think growing up, we’re all exposed to, to different extents, various expectations and hopes. Of how we should behave and act, think and express. But you are made of power and possibility. And it’s up to you how you want to express that.
And this call to peace, this article that is, really, a kind of love letter to all women everywhere, is an intersectional one: she/they thems, non-binary folks, people still figuring stuff out along the way, and everyone who has ever felt silenced and perhaps hopeless in their perceived powerlessness. This is for you.
My final takeaways for this International Women’s Day are as follows: Flowers should be sung to all newborns everywhere. You should take yourself dancing, and save up and buy the ‘silly’ heels or ‘unnecessary’ dress you’ve wanted for so long. Write your name in the sand and marvel at the vast expanse of the ocean, at the vast amount of possibilities of every choice you have left to make. And you should always try and love yourself better because you, as I hope you know by now, are made of stardust and art, hope, and power, and still have to flourish into all that you can be.
So, rise up. And claim all that you have left to do.
© Photography by L'odyssée Belle
BONUS FEATURES: I wanted to recommend some songs & books to read! I know life is very busy, but have a listen to ‘This Mountain’ if you need a motivational boost, and explore some of these book topics in case any of them do end up on your reading list.
5 top Empowering Songs:
5 Top Books to Read:
Girl, Woman, Other - Bernadine Evaristo
You Exist Too Much - Zaina Arafat
The Soul of a Woman - Isabel Allende
How We Disappeared - Jing-Jing Lee
Women Who Run With The Wolves - Clarissa Pinkola Estés
For any spiritual folks (or fantasy readers): you are made of stardust and imbued with the light of faraway galaxies. Instilled with possibility and power. You have so many spheres and circles of possibility left to figure out. Go wander and get lost. Find your possibilities.