I remember - the day I stood up for other women. I’m 16 years old, the new girl at a public school, after an entire education in a private Christian school. I’m in Grade 12, I know nobody and know nothing of this world. I’m in a Mechanics class, there are 3 girls in the class. The guys are picking on the 2 other girls. Again. It’s not an uncommon occurrence, but today I’ve had enough, today I seem to have found my voice. I remember - the day I stood up, literally, and gave those guys a piece of mind. They shut up, jaws to the floor. I finished, no words, no acknowledgment, I sat down. And then applause. One of the guys stood up and started clapping. And then a few others joined him. I remember the sense of empowerment I discovered in standing up for other women.
I remember - the day I stood up for myself. I’m standing in the commons room of that same public school, talking to someone. It’s quiet, very few people around. And a guy I’d met briefly, walks over to us, joining the conversation. Or so I thought. Within seconds of approaching us, he reaches out and grabs my v*gina. I am shocked, shamed and shaken. I pause. I look down, then look directly at him and grab him right back. I can’t remember the words I spoke, but as I watched him sink into his own body, I was proud. Proud that I’d finally learned to stand up for myself.
And I remember the day I stood on stage, standing up for ALL WOMEN, for ALL KINDS. I remember being terrified, scared that others may not take me seriously, that they may misconstrue what I have to say, laugh at me or make jokes at my expense. I pushed through because I knew what I had to say was important, I knew others needed to hear it. I knew I had an opportunity to use my voice as a voice for the voiceless. And so I did.
And I remember. I remember the day I stood up for you, for me, and for all the women that have come before us and have yet to come.
Happy International Women’s Day. May we continue to show up for ourselves, for others and for generations to come.