The Necessity of Making a Movement Our Own
Just as I was getting tired of talking about the necessity of women’s leadership – ever have the same feeling? – 13 year old Mo’Né Davis showed up, threw a 70 mph fastball, and reminded me why I care.Women are people, she reminded me, just by virtue of being herself and being so damn good at what she does. Watching her pitch made me think of playing Little League as a kid in Maine and loving the game, not being a girl and loving the game, just loving the game! How totally besides the point my being female felt to me every time it was brought up. And it was brought up all the time. The focus on my gender was distracting and confusing more than anything else. I easily held my own against the boys, and I wanted to focus on the game, the matter at hand. We take sports seriously in my family!It also felt like it robbed me of a full experience of the game and of what it meant to be a part of a team. For example, I remember the day a boy on my own team called me a cunt, and how this divided us. I went quiet, freaked out by what had happened and how my coach didn’t care. A few of the other boys stood up for me, but it had ruined the day. I was hurt, sure, but annoyed more than anything else.In a flash, 20 years later watching Mo’Né pitch, I remembered all of this – my own personal purpose, the beginnings of which were established early on, for caring about women’s equality and women’s rights. She wanted to play. And boy, did she ever.Women are people. Yes, we have different experiences than men due to the fact that we are women. But, we also don’t. We also have the same experiences as men because we are people. That’s my favorite thing about women, my favorite thing about being a woman, and the thing that, to me, connects the women’s movement to all other movements for social justice and human rights. My womanhood isn’t the point, my humanity is, and it includes the fact that I am a woman and have a different life experience than men. This is my personal entry point to the women’s movement and it’s what energizes me and keeps me working, thinking, and celebrating our collective “wins”.Movements are made up of many different moving parts. Movements happen in cycles, across lines we can’t even see sometimes, and over time. (Check out this great follow up to Sandberg’s Lean In coming up Sept 13 in NYC.) And, as Gloria Feldt says, “One thing we’ve learned from history or should have by now, is that it rarely goes in a straight line.” That’s why we need each other to stay motivated.Watching Mo’Né throw a fastball, watching Beyoncé on stage with the word FEMINIST lit up behind her, talking with my feminist colleagues who aren’t afraid to use the word feminist – all of these things remind me of how we can build off each other’s energy to keep doing the work that needs to get done. Movements gain speed and momentum, critical mass and critical connections, when people find their own unique entry point to the conversation on whatever issue it is, make their own unique contribution, and start working together.Women are people. That’s what energizes me this Women’s Equality day/week or any day of the year. Help a lady (person?) out and let me know what your entry point to the women’s equality conversation is in the comments below. Why do you personally care?