Relief, and a Sense of Being in Charge

I recently attended the workshop for women in their thirties. It was a great workshop, one of the best I have ever been to. It felt like it was my workshop. All the topics and talks were exactly what I wanted, and I loved being with all the women there. During the introductions, many of us said that what we liked about being in our thirties was that we had more confidence in our minds. It really showed.

I loved watching Ellie Brown and Diane Balser1 lead together. I loved how fierce they both were about ending sexism and male domination. I loved how big their minds were. They were real with each other, respected each other, and worked well with each other—with their different backgrounds, experiences, and decisions they had made in their lives as women.

I went into the workshop with the hope of discharging some more on deciding whether or not to become a mother and raise a child. At another Women in Our Thirties Workshop two years ago, Diane said something like, “Everybody is asking you if you are going to have a child, but nobody is asking you if you are going to be an astronaut.” This time she said that the question of how we are going to change the world has to come along with the question of whether or not we are going to raise a child. She also talked about how wanting to have a child is a feeling. The question is if it actually makes sense, and if so, on what basis. She also encouraged us to really look at the sexism and male domination in the institution of child raising.

Two years ago at this workshop, I led a support group for women of the global majority on discharging on whether or not to become a mother and raise a child. This time I led the group for both white women and women of the global majority. It was interesting to see how extremely personal the topic was for many of us. It was hard to imagine getting help with it from our sisters and not easy to openly talk about how we were feeling about the decision. It gave me a picture of how sexism and internalized sexism leave us alone to figure out big things on our own.

The lives of many women of the global majority have never been about themselves. The women of the global majority in the support group felt a lot of humiliation about just wanting to have a child, about their minds, and about not having the resource that white women seem to have. Having room to figure out what they thought about all this, without anybody else’s agenda coming in, seemed really important.

Many of the white women also felt humiliation about wanting, and isolation seemed to be the key. It was hard for some of them to imagine getting out of their isolation without having a child.

I loved all the women in the group and appreciated them for their honesty. I think all of us—younger women, older women, with all the decisions we have made already or not made yet—have a lot of work to do on this subject.

Ellie said over and over again that our struggles are not personal. They are because of sexism. The women in our generation have been told that sexism does not exist anymore, that it’s our personal fault if we struggle, and that something is wrong with us if we feel bad. The society says that we can do everything, be anything, and that it’s our personal fault if we cannot figure it out. It says that we are free to choose whatever we want. However, the choices we have are still not workable, and “something is wrong with us” if we cannot make them work.

It was a relief to have someone name this thing that I have never been able to fully wrap my mind around. Growing up in Japan, I did not quite get the message that I could be anything. (In Japan, there is much less pretense that sexism no longer exists.) However, I have lived in the United States for the last sixteen years, and it’s been confusing.

Diane led a topic group on pornography. She gave me a big hand2 with fighting against the sex industry in Japan. I am furious, horrified, and heartbroken about how much it has gotten to my beloved country and people. Yet, because of racism and U.S. imperialism, it’s been hard for me to show that to U.S. women. I appreciate Diane for not leaving me with my discouragement and reaching out and fighting with me.

More and more, I can see how much of my early feeling of defeat has something to do with sexism and male domination. I came home from the workshop feeling hopeful and with the sense that I am in charge and that I may be someone to take seriously.

Thank you Ellie and Diane, and everybody else who were there!

Yuko Hibino 
Seattle, Washington, USA
Reprinted from the RC e-mail
discussion list for leaders of women

1 Ellie Brown is a former International Liberation Reference Person for Young Adults. Diane Balser is the International Liberation Reference Person for Women.
2 “A big hand” means a lot of help.


Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00