Guru month – yoga as activism by Keren

“What helped you survive?” Steinem asked Davis before an auditorium packed with remarkable women and social justice organizers.

“What made feel capable of getting up every day and moving forward was the fact that there were so many other people involved in the struggle,” Davis responded. “This was not my struggle alone.”

“I could only see myself as being one of many others and that helped me,” Davis added. “I didn’t feel alone.” Conversation between Gloria Steinem and Angela Davis

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I’ve been full of a simmering rage these past few weeks.

I am a Libran and for the whole of my life I have concerned with ‘what’s fair’. I want the people who surround me to me kind and fair. I treat people fairly and expect the same in return. I wish the world was a fairer place for every creature who inhabits it.

Now I know the world at large is unfair in so many ways, I’m not naive, from my youthful activist days supporting Greenpeace to my more recent efforts to support the local foodbank where I live, I know that the world can be unfair and unjust for many.

But what I don’t expect is for us to be slipping back in time, through the 1970s, to the 1960s and back through the 1950s to a time when the world was very unfair in its approach and treatment to women but that’s what’s happening right now.

Now we could stick our heads in the sand about this and pretend the happenings in America and the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court does not impact us over here in the UK but I’d like to argue that if that’s you, with all due respect, you wake the fuck up.

When the president of the most powerful nation on earth supports a man who has sexual abused a number of women to sit on the highest course of the land, we should worry about what this says to how men can treat women the world over. When that said sexual abuser refers to the contraceptive pill as an abortion drug, we should really worry that these men in high places will start to think that they can tell us what to do with our bodies while taking no responsibility for their own actions.

I’m so tired of trying to explain to any man that will listen how different it is to be a woman, how we are ALWAYS thinking of our safety, how we calculate risks (you know, walk down a street at 8pm when it’s dark or call a cab sort of risk) several times a day EVERY DAY and how when we hear that a woman bravely stood in front of the world to relive her trauma and then was used as a punchline by the president of the USA, we feel despair, rage, hurt and pain. And yes we know that in expressing these emotions we will probably be called hysterical or militant feminists.

And as an aside, I’m fucking proud to be a feminist and I’m bringing up my son to be one too.

So what to do with all this emotion?

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says that whatever action is performed by a great person, more people will follow in their footsteps, and whatever standards they set by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.

We need to be the change. We need to continue to voice our despair and anger even if we get called out for being hysterical. We need to come together.

I know as a collective the yoga women in my community, just for starters, are some of the fiercest, most intelligent women I know. We need to harness this.

Gloria Steinem and Angela Davis were two of the most powerful feminist voices of their generation (and I would argue still today) and they both knew that to see change we had to work together, we had to have a voice and we had to be fearless. I don’t always feel brave when it’s little ole me on my own, but with my community I know I can find an ocean of courage.

We’ve slipped back in time, so we need to do what our sisters in the 60s and 70s did, we need to show the world the power of women and men united for equality, for a fair world.

Tonight when I go to teach my yoga class I will be honouring these two women, Steinem and David, these two gurus, who fought so hard for women’s rights and I will be thinking of ways we can start to come together in our community to make this world a little safer and a little fairer for us girls. Will you put your thinking cap on too?


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