Tuesday, 17 December 2013

I Cannot Share My Girlhood With Those Who Were Not There.

I'm less angry today and feel I can express myself better on the theme of #sharedgirlhood. I'm not an experienced blogger so this will be fairly straightforward to read.

When I came upon this on Sunday I was taken aback by my feelings. I felt a warmth come from my toes upwards. A huge euphoric rush. It felt like something really physical was happening and women on Twitter could actually feel each other. Like we were reaching out and our fingers were almost touching as something electric passed between us and carried on down a line creating fibres of a sparkling web that would help bind us together and support us.

I broke down and cried at the stories pouring out. Really grim experiences were shared. Things that brought an uncomfortable smile of acknowledgement underpinned with intense sadness. I remembered the isolated suffering. I saw one woman talk longingly of how she'd wished she'd known her sisters were suffering too so that it could have made her feel more "normal". This acknowledged that we would still have suffered. We were too young and too knocked down by grappling with our developing bodies and developing awareness of our oppressed status to know how to actually join together to try and stop it. But over the weekend women just let go. We dragged these things out onto a bonfire of our past hurt and we warmed each other with the fire. What happened felt like healing. It was beautiful.

And then a terrible thing came. Bitterness. The cry we hear all year long. "Us! What about us?!!!! You're excluding us. Oppressing us. Keeping us out. This is horrible and unkind and you're privileged and you're white and you're rich and ...."

On and on this wave crashed onto twitter. Until the healing had to stop. Women were suspended. Suspended until they stopped mentioning #sharedgirlhood.

Now, this needs objecting to. I object. I am a woman. I was a girl. Things happened to us as girls that did not happen to boys. Any boys. Much of it revolved around our developing bodies. Blood featured largely. We all menstruated and it was often a huge event and rarely celebrated. It brought shame and pain and fear. This was the culture of our girlhood. We should not have to deny it.

As girls we were subject to random sexual harassment and assault and sometimes rape. It may have happened to boys but we were girls and we were sharing being so. That's ok. We can do that. We need not apologise for what we are or what we were. We lived it. We fought through it. We are here and we want to acknowledge that.

Posting at the weekend women did not want to deliberately harm others who had not had that experience. Largely the hashtag was about the word "shared". We wanted to join together to make sense of what happened. You cannot deny something happened to you to make others feel more comfortable.

So, yes for the rest of the year we will accept your constant, oh so very constant, call to check our cis privilege and bend over backwards for inclusive terminology and abandon our woman only spaces. Some of us will tell you to sod off. The war will continue to wage.

But #sharedgirlhood was one thing women who had one should have been allowed, just once, because it did a wonderful thing. More importantly, those who sought to bring it down, did not succeed in doing so. A bitter tinge is left in the air. But we still got it out there and it still feels warm.