There is a fire inside of me. I don’t remember the moment the spark was lit, possibly because it was so long ago. I suspect the moment two X chromosomes fused and deemed me female, was the moment the flame flickered into life.
For 40 years it has been a slow burn, with the exception of four years in my late teens / early twenties when I discovered Women’s Studies at university. Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and Laura Mulvey’s essay on The Male Gaze were profoundly life changing. I even wrote my Honours thesis on Angela Carter and her subversion of patriarchal gender norms in her fiction.
But it was all a bit of a theoretical exercise.
It is easy to parrot feminist theory and rage against the patriarchy while reading the current issue of Elle Dit in the safety of the Women’s Room. It is another to leave the liberal, free thinking borders of the university and cross the road and exist in the “real world” as a young female.
As a 19 year old who desperately needed to keep my Christmas casual job I was in no position to stand up to the Santa who kept entreating myself and my fellow elves to sit on his lap, or try to pull down our elf costumes.
At 20 I simply smiled politely at the knob cloud at an engraving booth in the city who gifted me with this enchanting conversational gem:
Me: “Hi, how much do you charge?”
Knob cloud: “For what, love?”
Me: “Um, for engraving. I mean, is it per letter?”
Knob cloud: “Oh (chuckles heartily). I thought you meant making love”
What the actual fuck?
When I was 21 I was chastised by the football coach at the school I was teaching at, telling me I was “making the boys soft” and “sucking the toughness out of them”, presumably simply by existing as a young female in a heavily male dominated environment.
Each time I was rescued by other people: Santa was sacked, my boyfriend gave the knob cloud a mouthful, and coach was forced to write me a letter of apology.
So yes, fucking #MeToo.
But now, I want to say, I’m ready to #BeMyOwnFuckingHero.
There is a fire inside of me. The slow burn has turned into a bonfire. A combination of my age, the momentum of the #MeToo movement, and the “outing” of celebrity after celebrity who have felt it is ok to use their fame, their influence, their gender, to exert power over women and intimidate, harass and ultimately assault them has me seeing red. No longer do I need anyone to come to my rescue. I will be my own hero. I will call men out on their unacceptable behaviour. I will not smile meekly and try not to make a fuss. If a fuss is warranted, expect this rage bubbling inside me to rain down on your head. So much rage.
I will not laugh it off. I will not make excuses for any man based on his ignorance or his age or his “sense of humour”. A dirty old perv with a sense of humour is still a dirty old perv.
I will fulfil my role in the sisterhood: to lift other women up.
Support them when they need it.
Be their rescuer if they need it.
Although I suspect my wonder woman wrist cuffs won’t get much use because I see it in the women all around me: in the supermarket, at school pick up, at sports training. Women of all ages, shapes and sizes, with a fire in their belly; flames flickering in their eyes.
I am not alone.
We are fed up.
We will not be silent.
We will support each other, lift each other up and link arms as we collectively say: #NoMore.
There is a fire inside of me and it is spreading like wildfire………………………………..