The rise of the feminine voice, presence, and leadership is positive and much needed, and I welcome the global sisterhood immensely. However, I have a big problem with the mantra that partners much of the feminist movement, the one that suggests the ‘future is female’.
The intention is undeniably positive. Women have been suppressed by the dominance of conditioned and learned masculinity for generations and now the minority is rising up out of its shackles to meet the imbalance face on and demand change. That paradigm shift is relevant, necessary, but not absolute.
Change, indeed, is good. It is essential, and the only constant in life. I welcome the changing structures of governments as we open the doors to global female leaders and female-driven ideas, but we must be careful not to close these doors behind us, or flip the patriarchy to a matriarchy without learning how to coexist at our highest potential.
As a survivor of almost a decade of male-inflicted physical and psychological violence in the home, I walked away from my first marriage a scarred girl of 30 with two young sons under my arms and a mountain of debt. Freed from the chains of domestic violence, I threw myself into creative work, collaborating with men and women on a film project in northern Peru that envisioned a possible future for a small surfing village overrun by oil, a future that everyone around me deemed impossible. I felt that after so many years of sufferance anything was possible, and I wanted so badly to help improve the livelihoods of others so they wouldn’t have to face hardships like I had for so long. The personal risk seemed insignificant; the possibility of contributing to something bigger than myself was worth everything I had to offer.
Despite nursing open wounds post-abuse, battling near-bankruptcy and juggling my own healing with that of my sons’, the success of my creative work and the exhilaration that accompanied my contributing to mixed-gender, mixed-race collaborative projects across the globe opened my eyes to the necessity of inclusion when it comes to building positive future worlds. It also lifted the veil on creative collaboration as a means to heal abuse, and how building positive relationships with each other is key to behavioural change between the sexes as we transform our histories to envision, and build, possible futures.
On January 21, 2017, I took my last few hundred dollars and flew solo from the mountains of Colombia, where I had been travelling with my boys, to the Women’s March in Washington D.C. Having missed connecting flights in both Bogota and Miami, I arrived at my friend’s empty hotel room in Washington with just enough time to dump my suitcase and venture out alone into the streets — I’d missed the meeting time with my web of global girlfriends. Within minutes I was engulfed in the sea of humans; a blend of some one million men, women, boys and girls from all walks of life — a truly diverse mix of gender, race, age, and culture. And while the mantra ‘future is female’ was held high on carboard signs by change-making women around the world that day, it was the activity beneath those signs that offered me the most hope for the future — the hope for inclusion.
The future is always now. It is in the choices we make today, and those choices are everywhere. I stand for women’s rights and I study this subject in depth, but as a mother of sons who stem from generations of men that have abused their wives, I am as ambitious in my hope for positive female futures as I am for positive male futures. I don’t see one without the other. We must dream of inclusive futures, and we must learn how to collaborate with each other in order to envision futures that have hope for all humanity.
The future is not female, it is inclusive. The future is not tomorrow, it is NOW, and it is everywhere.
*Originally written for Medium