Around the age of 27 years, I looked into the future and all I could see was myself taking the pill and no children. I knew deeply from an early age that my life would lie outside the home and domestic sphere. So I organised to get tubal ligation – to get my Fallopian tubes tied – so that I would no longer need contraception.
I also did this because I looked into the future and was fearful that women’s rights to control their own body were continually under relentless attack. I worried about a possible time when contraception would not be readily available. I did not want to become pregnant nor did I want to be forced to have an abortion if I did fall pregnant.
Why am I writing this now? Because I recently visited the ancient site of Salamis, near Famagusta, in North Cyprus. As you go in, all the statues of women – at the entrance and throughout the site – are headless. Not by design but by the malicious actions of long-ago men who objected to the ancient worship of goddesses and who hated any depiction of women in roles of power.
I found on my first visit to Salamis that I simply couldn’t bring myself to take photos because I was enraged by this wanton vandalisation and gross example of the misogyny inherent in a patriarchal system where a god is male and women considered inferior. I took this picture the second time I visited Salamis and I’m writing this now because I’ve been looking at the siege of women’s rights in the United States. I saw on Facebook today that the Governor of Kansas has signed into law a statute which allows pharmacists and doctors to deny women access to contraception. Kansas has also passed legislation to make life for abortion clinics harder and to restrict the right to abortion.
This anti-women agenda is spreading like the plague around the United States and in other nations like Australia and the UK. In Australia we have seen the vilest, most sexist language used against the first female Prime Minister. One shock jock even talked of stuffing her in a chaff bag, taking her to sea and throwing her overboard, presumably to drown.
I am mad, bad and utterly enraged at the hatred of women that is displayed by fundamentalist groups of all religious persuasions – whether Christian, Islamic, Hindu or whatever. I am contemptuous of those who proclaim their support for the right to life yet support wars waged for the oil and armaments industries where innocent civilians are slaughtered by the so-called liberating troops of Western nations, euphemistically called “collateral damage”.
I am fed up with the New Age crap about turning the other cheek, of change coming from within ourselves, eschewing anger and behaving in peaceful ways. it gets us nowhere, it only encourages the misogynists to greater excesses as they pursue new and meaner ways to make women as powerless as possible. Well, bollocks to all that.
So here’s my manifesto. Feel free to pass it on and add anything you feel appropriate because we women need to assert FOREVER our power, our passion, our feistiness, our wisdom, our refusal to accept attacks on women, our determination to organisation and fight back against those who try to return us to the old paradigm of barefoot and pregnant because there ain’t no going back to the bad old days.
Wild, witchy, wise women assert:
* We are powerful.
* We are prepared to be very, very angry.
* We are not nice, we are warriors.
* We demand our wisdom be respected.
* We refuse utterly to accept descriptions such as bitchy, tramps or sluts which are defined by patriarchy.
* We assert the right to control our own bodies as and when we wish.
* We have the right to demand contraception and abortion. FULL STOP.
* We will not be nice and co-operative. We will FIGHT any attempts to deny women the full right to participate as equals in society.
* We will make life an utter misery for any lawmakers who attempt to roll back the rights of women.
* We will stand by, defend and support all women who are victimised by patriarchal forces. We cannot be divided from each other and ruled by misogynists.
* We reject any attempts to co-opt us into a system which wants us to be quiet, docile and too nice for our own good.
* We are not ladies. We are raucous, noisy, mouthy, feisty stirrers, troublemakers and drama queens. So suck it up if you don’t like it.
* We have the right to make choices in relation to family, work and sexuality and for those choices to be respected because are not owned by anyone.
* We are proud of our age and refuse to be stuffed into girlie envelopes. Our faces with their lines, wrinkles and bearing the scars and victories of our lives are badges of honour which we wear with pride.
* We will seize freedom because it will never be granted to us as a gift – and that freedom is the right to live our own lives, as we choose; the right to choose our partners and family life according to the call of our hearts; the right to make our own reproductive choices; the right to be the size with which we are comfortable; the right to wear whatever nurtures our hearts regardless of our age; the right to demand, fight for and seize into our powerful hands equal pay, equal opportunity, equal education and respect for the female qualities which make us so damned special.
Anything less is too little.
As we move into new times of upheaval, change and new ways of living, it is time for all wild, witchy wise women to rise up and roar from the highest rooftops that we are done with being nice, we are Amazons, pretty damned good and a mighty, mighty power to be reckoned with.