I took a trip to Puerto Rico for my birthday. On the evening of my day of celebration, my daughter and I went to a La Barrachina in Old San Juan for some delicious food and a live flamenco performance. Watching these boriquen ladies & men dancing brought forth so many ideas and cultural connections for me. The hand clapping that echoes what I hear during baptist church praise. The varying intensity of stomping inherent in this dance style, reminded me of stepping that I see from sororities & fraternities. The decorative hand movements with clear bloodlines through Indian & Asian dance as well. But more than anything, what grabbed me was how each of these women, stepped to the center of the stage, and for that dance, she was the Queen of the Universe.
As women, our experience is unique and different from men. Throughout the years, cultural norms and religious practice has pushed women to the back and off to the side. We live in a world where these ancient and outdated practices are still adamantly enforced. Women not allowed to ride a bike or show their hair. Women not allowed to speak their mind. Women being mutilated to remove any pleasurable sensation from sex. Not to mention the well known fact that women are paid 78 cents for every dollar men earn (regardless of profession, educational achievement, or familial status). That statistic gets even worse for women of color with Black women earning only 64 cents to every dollar earned my men, and Latina women at 54 cents to every dollar men earned. (http://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/) Our history on this planet as women has been a struggle for acknowledgement & our due respect.
Despite being divinely chosen as the bearers of life, somehow we still have found ourselves in a fight for recognition of our worth from men. We fight to not just be revered in quiet places behind closed doors, not just for our heart shaped hips, shapely thighs and breasts. We are the first teachers, the first voice to new life, first touch, the first example of womanhood. We are the first comfort, the first safe haven. We lay the foundation to a loving union between man & woman, a healthy, loving household & family.
A review of history will reveal a long list of “great men” attributed as the first inventors, scientists, explorers, philosophers, etc. However, what is pushed to the back and off to the side is the phenomenal women who stood beside them and nurtured greatness out of them. She spoke life into him when he was down and ready to give up. She served as his motivation, his inspiration. She is the secret heroine.
Have you ever noticed how feminist thought is often viewed as taboo and militant? Or worse yet, lesbian! Because of course it only stands to reason that any woman looking to make her presence known and highlight her contributions must think she’s a man! (SMH) Whether it is overt or subconscious, these efforts to subjugate women are deliberate. But why? What is the fear in allowing women to shine brightly and be equally acknowledged for our contributions? What do they fear would happen?
In consideration of all these things, as I watched each of the female flamenco dancers command her will in the room, I resolved that every woman deserves and needs a space like this; where she commands her space, the room, and the whole universe with her light. This is the space where spirit runs free. It is in this space we are no longer us, we allow the Gift Of Divine within us to completely take over. In this space we are fearless. We take flight with our massive wings. We ascend far beyond the reach of judgement or any other human measures. We become timeless. We become truth.