Herstory is dedicated to all those that identify as womxn and face the many challenges that come our way – believe in your power.
Finally womxn are telling their stories, and the world is finally listening – but it definitely took it’s sweet time. There is so much Herstory for us to learn about, so many untold stories, each containing their own challenges and their own triumphant power. This editorial may not showcase every variation of womxn, but it is in support of all who fight for the respect and equality that womxn deserve.
Worldview’s have been slowly changing, slowly understanding the challenges surrounding agency over ones body. There is a never ending peanut gallery constantly criticizing a womxn for covering up too much or covering up too little; a lose lose situation. This criticism extends itself to what a womxn can achieve in her career, if she chooses this path; the glass ceiling is real, but slowly shattering. But careful, not only must you “control” your dress sense and success, you must also hide away and be ashamed of the natural process of menstruation; pretend that it never happens. Herstory fights back to all of the above; Herstory is defining History.
Menstruation needs to be normalized as a natural process; especially in South Africa where there are extreme disparities in access to feminine hygiene products. These products are extremely expensive, and the taboo around talking about menstruation means that many people feel ashamed to speak up.
This process needs to be normalized so that womxn can feel free to express their challenges on this topic and men can finally get involved in addressing the issues affecting menstruating womxn.
One thing that needs to go is the stigma around PMS. When a woman is angry, upset or expressing an emotion other than happy it does not mean that they are automatically on their period. I suppose this is more around the general dismissal of women’s emotions as always being irrational, but hey, I think it’s applicable.
Womxn have the right to dress their body however they want to, but there seems to be a lack of understanding of agency when it comes to respecting a womxn’s choices surrounding her own body and what she chooses to show, or to cover up.
According to Aaliyah, “The modest dresser cannot simply walk into a shop and expect to find something within five minutes. The maxi-skirt that you pull off the rack has slits that go up to your hip. The pretty knit has cut-outs on the shoulders (for reasons I will never understand). And so those who are both modest dressers and wanting to wear the latest trends, have to be creative. While this can be challenging at times, the fashion world has definitely started to embrace us. The industry recognizes that people choose to express themselves in different ways, whether through baring it all or covering up.”
Modest fashion is a billion dollar industry and it’s just getting started. For us girls in 2018, patience and imagination are key.
It is the freedom of choice that makes the diversity of womxn so inspiring; each choosing something different for themselves that aligns with their own self-representation. Aaliyah continues, “While wearing a hijab (headscarf) does mean being on the receiving end of strange looks from fellow students in class, or models and directors at castings, it is these unapologetically-themselves-womxn who inspire me to persevere. These womxn are confident and outspoken, fragile yet resilient. There are so many qualities to admire, in so many different womxn. I think it is so important to recognize these qualities and draw strength from each other in a world that would rather see us compete.”
Not only are womxn told what to wear, womxn are also told who to become and how successful they can be. There are so many incredible womxn who have showcased what it means to be a powerhouse; but this has not come without many, many challenges. There are certain expectations placed on a career womxn that men will never experience, these powerhouses have pushed past barriers and shown that it can be done; but there shouldn’t have to be these barriers.
Being a womxn in the work space is a challenge on its own. You constantly have to prove yourself and then it gets worse when you are a black womxn because now you have to work twice as hard as everyone to prove you deserve to take up spaces and also to get respect.
Womxn can be powerful, intelligent, respectable individuals and still own their body in a way that represents self-expression, self-love and allows one to embrace their sexuality for themself. Far too many womxn are criticized for this aspect; womxn who embrace being sexy are criticized as “doing it for men”. Self-love and self-expression are important aspects of any individuals life, everyone has their own journey and can go about this journey however they want. Once again the question of agency comes into play; let womxn make their own decisions and stop assuming that these decisions are always for someone else.
Through pole dancing I have been allowed to explore and embrace my sexuality in a safe space. I have never felt more empowered with my body than I do now. Pole is constantly challenging me to feel more comfortable than ashamed with moving my body in a sensual way. In a society where womxn are slut shamed for being sexual beings, I have found my pole family. A family that supports me and others with owning one’s sexuality and body.
Gina continues, “A huge part of what makes pole empowering for me is the shift away from societal judgment of any bodies (all genders do pole), and towards acceptance and celebration of non-conforming bodies. Pole sheds the systemic patterns of body shame and, developing a healthier relationship between you and your body. As someone who has suffered from having bad body image growing up. I have finally been able to love myself and, embrace seeing my body. Undoubtedly pole has helped with doing so and, the support from everyone at my studio. Whether you like it or not you going to have to look at your body in pole. As you cannot wear much clothing in this sport.”
Herstory is growing and gaining power; let us embrace one another’s stories; let us connect on shared experiences and grow and learn from listening to other womxn’s unique stories.
There is no limit to our power.