Why I call myself a feminist - part II By the time I had a group together for my first feminism course I was excited to deliver the material – to share with other women what feminism was and how we are all affected, even if we don’t know or realise. The group consisted of six other women and myself. One of the challenges I found from the start was that women sometimes don’t want to be around other women. Some of them stated up front how they don’t “get on” with other women, without realising that this is one of the hidden agendas of a patriarchal society – to divide and rule. But the women in the group were amazing. They bonded over days of deep discussions around shame, sex and consent, domestic violence, the relationship with self… As the facilitator I could hear them opening up about such topics, trying to unpick and understand. The strength of these women emerged as they said things aloud. It’s an experience I will always remember as it tapped into my own sense of self as a woman, my own shame and guilt. The power of women voicing these things together in a group had such an impact; it was empowering to realise actually we are not alone in our struggles – to hear the words “me too” can have such a comforting effect. We think we are going through something alone when in reality we are all in this struggle together, dealing with the same issues. Running my first group had a deep impact on me, as it highlighted my own areas of shame and guilt that had kept my voice trapped. It challenged me, seeing that I was expecting other women to do something I felt maybe I wasn’t comfortable doing myself. I was still hiding from shame and carrying stuff from the past that wasn’t even mine – something inside telling me “I cannot say this, I don’t want to be judged…” Being in this first group together with these women gave me an inner power and the strength to be able to voice my shame and my guilt and, most of all, to forgive myself and to know that I am a strong woman. *** My second group included some very vulnerable women who had very little or no self worth. These women didn’t connect with the idea of ‘feminism’ or - like myself at one stage - didn’t think it affected them. But once again, they bonded over the course of 8 weeks. What I saw happening was growth, as the women found understanding, moments of clarity and a personal power within. This enabled them to trust themselves and begin to manage their own lives, as women, through a feminist lens. I’m now working with a third group of 8 women and have felt fired up and ready to go from day one! I The more women understand what feminism is, the better chance they have, I feel, of being women. Whether you’re a mother, sister, daughter, auntie - whatever your family or relationship role - first and foremost you become defined as a woman. A patriarchal society would have us forget or not think about this. Society doesn’t allow you to be a whole person if you’re or mother or a carer or married, yet men are not viewed in the same way. The power of feminism is to unite women, as individuals who have been divided and ruled, so that we grow and gain strength from one another.