“That sense of sorority that other women seemed to feel whenever ‘Women’s Issues’ or ‘Women’s Events’ came up seemed to evade me. It never felt like I was included in that.” I shared with the Colonel. She shared her own experience of feeling something similar with Women Marine events. “We were already the minority, there was no need to celebrate and highlight that any further. Maybe that’s what we have in common?” And then I found this picture:
It was captioned “The only one”. The Chair asked me to consider facilitating a group and writing both about how the participants experienced connection as well as my own experience of facilitating it. I was unsure of if that was right for me. I told her I would think about it. I wasn’t tied to talking to women of color, women were never my population but for some reason this year the call of my own womanhood was evident. I could not ignore that there was something there, but what it was remained to be known. I sat with it.
What if for the fall research project I talked to women of color and for dissertation I expanded that to all women? At some point the dialogue needs to open, right? Then I realize how present this work has always been with me. My sophomore year of college I did a program about different types of beauty. Having my white residents and my residents of color talk about what was beautiful for them, and discovering those things were sometimes contradictory. Discovering then that our frames of reference were like north and south, worlds away from one another.
Lea asked me what I want my contribution to be and I said I wanted people to know what needed to be present for people in groups to feel connected to it. A recipe for connection. But I think what I want even more than that is for a real real dialogue to begin about what it means to be a woman. The limits that are imposed on us and the limits that we impose on ourselves. The ways that we tear each other down and the opportunities we miss to build each other up. I read somewhere that if you knew everybody’s story you couldn’t help but to love them. That is what I want. I want to help bring more love in the world.
When I saw this photograph I thought about the tension that Kegan describes between embeddedness and differentiation. You work so hard as a member of the core to match bodies, movement, lines perfectly and yet and still she will stand out. She will always stand out and how should she feel about that? How should others feel about that? Colorblindness is not the answer. We have tried that. Pretending you don’t notice my difference devalues the uniqueness I bring into this space. So we ball our hands in a fist and raise it above our heads as if to amplify our existence. Here I am! Notice me! Then we are different, you and I. What do we do with that? We cannot share combs, make up, band-aids, or tights…but we share our love of dance, our appreciation of the music, the joy the first time we preformed and it was perfect. We are different and we are the same. I just want us to get to that point(e).