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From an Indian-Heritage Woman

I felt a mild confusion, numbness, and disconnectedness at the workshop.1 I kept wandering off and had to remind myself to keep in close with specific people. I figured it must be middle-class patterns surfacing, because of the workshop and because I was with predominantly white Protestant women, a group I grew up around.

I noticed women smiling a lot when it didn’t always make sense to me. When a white Protestant woman got to discharge her rage about sexism, it made me feel safe. I wanted that for every woman in the room—to fight that big.

I am an Indian-heritage USer in my thirties with a mixed-class background. After Diane’s2 demonstration with a woman in her thirties on marriage, I realized that I had never really believed I could choose not to get married. The demonstration reminded me that I could decide to not get married ever, and live a full, great life. It reminded me how much sexism attempts to dictate how I feel and think. I still carry heavy recordings3 from the false message that as a woman my life is not complete unless I enter into the institution of marriage.

Diane asked this large group of women, “Who here has done work as an activist on the unpaid labor of mothers?” Not one woman raised her hand. Wow! It highlighted how severely sexism and internalized sexism make us dismiss the value of our and other women’s work. Our economic system relies on the unpaid labor of mothers. If all the mothers on the planet organized together to fight this oppression, the system would crumble. It could not survive.

My middle-class patterns have not “protected” or “saved” me from being poor. There were times at the workshop when I felt bad about my current poverty and being one of the few women there who were poor. But my mixed-class background and experience also helped me notice more clearly the confusions we middle-class women have about what it means to have a “good life”: economic “security,” upward mobility, and not working hard. In reality, there is no real security, work is inherently good (not oppression, but work), and upward mobility isolates people from each other.

I interrupted racism a few times; it felt safe enough to do that. And it was awesome having an Indian-heritage support group to discharge with. I felt urgent sometimes about “protecting” other women of the global majority from white women’s racism and “fixing” or interrupting other oppressions. I get to discharge on the terror underlying the urgency and figure out how to trust my mind and show up, mistakes and all, while still being close in with my fellow women.

Anu Yadav 

Washington, D.C., USA 

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of women


1 A workshop held in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, in February 2015
2 Diane Balser, the International Reference Person for Women and the leader of the workshop
3 Distress recordings

 


Last modified: 2020-07-17 20:50:52+00