I would not want to paint Afghanistan to be any different than another place where the domination culture has suppressed women. So hear my words and understand this is speaking to one of the toughest conflicts we face…gender.
Standing at the outside gate being told our plane had left 2 hours before what we had been told was the scheduled time stimulated more than just an annoyance of miscommunication. As I stood surrounded by at least 50 men (including the two I am traveling with), completely aware I am the only woman in sight I felt my legs take root. I could not move when Jesse and Jiva and Said began to return to the car. And I was the only one to notice. With attention to each cell of my being I focused my energy so I could remove myself from that spot to follow them back to the car. I notice my field of energy quite large as the groupings of men parted like the red sea to let me through. Traveling as much as I do I am completely aware and quite use to changes, cancellations, delays of flights and even sleeping in airports. And somehow this news of not getting our expected flight was quite different in my body’s response.
Once we were at dinner after settling back into the Guesthouse in Kabul, I revealed to Jesse and Jiva the profound cellular response my body was having to not having choice about leaving. I connected to how my body was about to feel free again to express in all the ways I am used to expressing. I connected to the sense of relief that was entering my body as we were moving toward the gate for our flight and how completely contracted I became as result of hearing we were not leaving. I realized I was feeling a bit of guilt for wanting and getting to leave when I had connected with so many women who wished to simply “fly” out of their situations, My thoughts were stimulating ideas that somehow I was “getting to freedom” and somehow others were not. I connected to the thoughts of what I had been told about the lack of freedom for women in Afghanistan and the honest feelings that were actually live for the women here. As I connect to my illusion of freedom by returning to my country of origin, the United States, my grief went deeper… I am not free.
I live in a country where we live inside a comfort zone safe from facing the truth of what our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers suffered through so I could have the rights I so often take for granted. I live in a country where I have felt absolute fear walking down the street simply because I walk in a female body. I live in a country where I have been told to dress like a man to be respectable at work. I live in a country where women marry men they don’t love because they are encouraged it is what is best for them. I live in a country where the biggest day on television, Super Bowl Sunday, is also the biggest day of violence against women. I live in a country where the only women I see in my government look and act like the white men who have the power. I live in a country where women still ask their husbands permission to go to work or borrow the car, I live in a country where millions of women give birth to babies they did not plan for because they were forced to have sex. I live in a country where I have met women who have been sterilized by force without consent simply because the color of their skin. I live in a country where rape against a wife is not as offensive as raping any women because somehow a wife still needs to provide the duty to her husband. I live in a country where in the state of Nevada it is a federal crime to take a casino chip but it is not a federal crime to rape a woman. I live in a country where equal opportunity means I work twice as hard to get the same pay. I live in a country where breasts are considered objects for men’s pleasure rather than revered as the connection for feeding and nurturing babies. I could continue my rant but I have some relief in this moment from releasing…
I connect to this gigantic issue of gender and how the suppression of women has kept us all suppressed. It keeps the domination culture strong and no on can be truly free. Jesse, my partner, asked me to share what stories I was connecting to from the women we had worked with. I shared, “Imagine you have no choice in who you marry. You are given to a man you do not love and then give birth to children that are a result of him forcing himself upon you as you perform your duty to the marriage. You do not experience touch in any kind of nurturing way. Your husband does not hold you while you weep for all the deaths you witness. And then you are covered up in public to have another degree of removal from being seen for who really are.” Sharing this out loud my body doubled over with tears to feel into the depth of despair women have walked through. I would like to see men and women weeping for the loss of connection and nurturance that has been created by these domination systems. There is a heavy weight in my heart, a migraine in my head and nausea in my belly I cannot shake. It has been with me for the duration of this trip. I think now it is despair trying to express itself. Feeling intensely into the despair I gave myself permission to grieve until the flow stopped on its own. I started at dinner and the initial flow stopped the next day about noonish. This experience created a vast amount of room in my being, my heart and opened my mind to new places.
I was taught by Lakota elders to weep for the people. I have often cried for suffering yet this time I touched mourning in a way I hadn’t before. I wonder how long the weeping would be if we all opened the floodgates to feel this imbalance we all have created does not serve human needs. I would like to taste the freedom we could have if we allowed that possibility of mourning and healing on a larger level than individuals here and there. I imagine despair circles all over the globe that have men and women witness each other. And I am grateful to the willingness of the men and women in our 5-Day training for their witnessing of one another. What I really want is for all beings to be free…truly free from the inside out. I believe if we are truly free inside then our families, cultures and societal systems will reflect that freedom. I’d love to hear comments of how this entry into our blog as touched you?