Encouragement For Women’s Workers Everywhere: When You Are Feeling Downhearted, Alone and Misunderstood

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I was blown away by the response to yesterday’s post: Why Aren’t Women Interested in Women’s Work? It received over ten times the usual daily views. And elicited an outpouring of support and empathy from readers and fellow women’s workers from around the world. What a circle of women we have gathered here!

It showed me that a lot of us are dealing with the same sort of feelings and responses… are nursing the same worries and concerns. We are showing up wholehearted… and finding few out there who are yearning to engage wholeheartedly with us. Or finding that people are expressing interest… but not showing up. And it can be disheartening. Leading us to question: ” am I on the right path, am I doing the right thing?” If my passion is helping women, how can I become more accessible, how can I be more of service, whilst staying true to my values and supporting myself?

I believe our work really matters, and so it seems to hundreds of others who registered their support yesterday -  on Facebook pages, message chats, over a kitchen table with a steaming hot cup of lemon balm tea, and in the lounge after dinner. I wanted to condense the insights that I garnered here to share the immense collective insight.

“All around me I see suppressed people, crying out for SOMETHING, but they don’t even know what that is, because they’ve been kept in the dark so long.

 I used to think if a lot of the stuff I now hold as my core belief system, as claptrap, hooey… I suppressed everything and was a total mental and physical wreck as a result!

Look around you. These women NEED you. They just don’t know it yet!”

Zoe from Raw Yoga

“Women have a lot of trouble viewing these activities as something other than an “indulgence” or something frivolous and so it is easy for them to talk themselves out of it or not be able to give themselves the time/space for it, even though they are deeply intrigued and interested.” 

Molly Remer, Talk Birth

 “It reminds me of when I used to work at the environmental forum. There could be tens of thousands of people every weekend at the sport matches – and handfuls of people turning up to our talks/movie nights/kids workshops. We couldn’t draw 0.1% of people who pay decent money to go to those sports/music events. “

Patrick Treacy, my partner at WomanCraft Publishing

The work we’re talking about is connected – caring for women, caring for the earth. It is revolutionary. It requires turning up, taking risks. It requires feeling and seeing how they have been overlooked in the past, and are in need of valuing.  It is mature work. We live in an infantilised society, which spoonfeeds us glitzy, familiar, mass-marketed, SAFE experiences to consume. For many the leap to our new ways of seeing and being and interacting are just too unfamiliar, too great a leap. For those of us whose parents, or even grandparents were involved in this work before us, ground has been broken, it is easier to leap.

“Yes, the patriarchal programming runs deep. For those of us who are committed to this work, it creates a focus or reference point in our own life that helps us to take it to the next level. I probably get more out of my Facebook page than anyone. And I feel that really we have only begun this journey”

Well Springs Women

“We are pioneers at the leading edge of a wave. Our work would have been unthinkable 20 years ago.

I know many women whose work fell flat locally, but was big nationally or internationally. I wonder if social constructs inhibit women when they are in the community which has socialized them to be disconnected from their bodies, their cycling, their pleasure, their self-care.”

 Katharine Krueger, Occupy Menstruation and Journey of Young Women

There is a study I read of in Oliver Burkeman’s superb Guardian column which says just this:

“When an idea’s presented as originating far away, they found, people picture it in the abstract: they grasp the gist, focus on the end goal, and appreciate the ingenuity. When it’s described as coming from nearby, they zoom in on detailed practicalities, focus on means, not ends, and imagine all the potential problems. In short, if people aren’t taking your ideas seriously, move to Perth.

Could this help explain that frustrating phenomenon whereby people in organisations can’t get a fair hearing for their suggestions, but then, as soon as some outside consultant suggests the very same thing, the boss goes wild with enthusiasm? Then there are those people who can’t hear advice from family or friends – yet if they find it in a book, or from some spiritual guru, they suddenly can’t stop preaching it. In research, this imagined-distance effect crops up repeatedly.”

Oliver Burkeman

 ”There is a Gloria Steinheim quote that comes to mind ‘The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn but to unlearn”. The dominate cultural says we don’t need to gather – just get on with it. This needs to be unlearnt. The balance of maculine and feminine within each of us needs to be restored. I feel sacred spaces online are bridging the gap and tempting people to come. There is a real yearning to remember.”

Lorraine, Occupy Menstruation

And on Ireland’s unique culture:

“I think that here in Ireland we do not have the cultural interest unfortunately. I believe it is a foreign language to us. It’s intimidating. We are still crawling out of the darkness that caused the enslavement of pregnant women and the deaths of hundreds of babies at ‘mother and baby homes’. I work in my community as a breast feeding counsellor and a lot of women are simply embarrassed to breastfeed. We have a long way to go in terms of becoming comfortable with our bodies and our sexuality….”

Emer

“Waking up is hard to do. We need to educate, we need to share and then the awareness will spread.”

Uma Dinsmore Tuli, creatrix of Womb Yoga

“The way I see it, even if no one comes, and no one hears, the simple and HUGE act of you living your passion is everything. And the effects of it ripple out in a thousand unimaginable ways.”

Tree Sisters

And finally a wonderful quotation shared by DeAnna L’Am founder of Red Tents in Every Neighbourhood

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I feel deeply held by the collective love and wisdom of all these women. I hope you do too. As it poured towards me yesterday, as I started the conversation. But it is there for us all, this collective pool of comfort and reassurance.

But I return to my original pondering:

If my idea of women’s work does not speak to most women, can it really be called women’s work? Does it really represent what women are? Rather than simply projecting my understanding of myself, my own personal agenda, and believing all women should fit that mould?

I am really diving deep into inquiry on that one.

And got even clearer yesterday on it: I do not have an agenda as most would understand it. I have no requirement for any woman to believe in anything that I do. To do or say anything which conflicts her.

My Womancraft Manifesta is this…

  • My only, deepest, heartfelt desire is for women to find an authentic way to self-expression in their relationships and communities.
  • That they are cared for and nurtured as much as they care for and nurture those around them.
  • That women and their bodies hold parity of opportunity and value with those of men.
  • That women feel safe: physically and emotionally.
  • That women’s voices are heard if they wish to tell their stories, and honoured for their unique experiences.
  • That women are supported fully in their life-giving journeys.
  • That shame becomes a redundant cultural tool.
  • That women’s authenticity is valued more deeply than their superficiality.
  • That women can find a way of being together which is supportive, caring and non-competitive.
  • That women feel at home and at ease in their bodies through all cycles of life.

How they do this is no concern of mine, and I offer resources and support based on what has worked for me and other women. Not because I believe I hold the one, true answer.

My focus is women, because I am one. I have that personal insight. As a woman I have to learn to live in a body which is constantly shifting and changing, through menstruation, pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and menopause. And as a woman I have found many of these areas to be unsupported or uninformed, and have had to find ways to do them myself. This is what I share.

And  I wish this just as strongly for our menfolk too. Wholeheartedly.  I long for it for us all.

The Gathering

If you do too, if women’s work is your thing, do you feel disconnected? Do you long to sit in circle with women’s leaders from around the world. We are in the early stages of planning a Gathering – do register your interest here.

Here is a video of me being interviewed on the subject of women’s work, and why I don’t identify with the term feminist.

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2 Responses to Encouragement For Women’s Workers Everywhere: When You Are Feeling Downhearted, Alone and Misunderstood

  1. […] amongst women workers around the world. For a compilation of their wise and insightful responses see this post, as well as the comments below and on the Facebook […]

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