‘I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody’s right to beautiful, radiant things.’
A beautiful bombardment of writing about International Women’s Day buzzes online today, nudging me to reflect on my life as not only a writer but as a female writer. Is there any relevant distinction, any greater challenge or any added responsibility in being a woman writing than a man?
The quote above is Emma Goldman’s, writing about her commitment to the anarchistic cause. It reminds me of growing up with a brilliant mother who wrote and aligned herself with feminism and who, when I was a teenager, gave me an Emma Goldman badge which I wore on my jacket. The badge was the circumference of an oversized coffee mug so it did not sit daintily on my denim jacket’s left-breast pocket, bouncing against my chest when I walked, so it rarely got an outing. However, I loved the (attributed) Emma Goldman quote printed around the edges with Goldman’s sketched face in the centre:
‘If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.’
Politics, philosophy and literature were at the heart of my childhood so I loved this anarchistic message I was sporting like some spotty-faced billboard trying to rouse a flicker of feminism amongst the girls I romped about with. But that’s not what happened. Mostly, my teen friends thought my Goldman statement was about dancing—and my mates decided the ‘revolution’ reference was about shunning bands we thought were twee and listening instead to indie and punk. None of this was true but that didn’t matter. That Goldman quote and badge was my teenage mantra, my inside joke, my connection to a woman who bravely wrote about her life as a woman in an age when her voice was diminished, though she spoke it with gusto. That quote at the top was written in 1931—has much changed since then?
I want my own freedom, the right to self-expression…my right to beautiful, radiant things. Best of all? I have the power and platform to share my voice about women, writing and, yes, I might even toss in a bit of anarchy along the way.
Happy International Women’s Day to all women: those who inspire, who heal, who mother, who create, who support, who overcome challenges to remain upright each day and to all of you who contribute to this multi-coloured world of ours. I want to be part of your revolution.