Today is International Women's Day, so inspired by my friend Yen over on The Yennipenni Channel, and after saying for months that I wanted to create videos, I've finally pulled up my Big Girl Pants, said, "Fuck it!" and rambled to my webcam for a good 10 minutes.
Obviously, uploading it to YouTube and hitting publish without editing or re-watching it was the only way I was ever going to get this bad-babe out to the world without hitting delete and bailing on the whole idea, and I'm not entirely sure that I was coherent so please, "Go gentle on me, Internet."
You can check out my video here, if you're so inclined:
*If my video triggers any negative responses, or upsets you and you'd like to speak with someone, I've listed some of the services available within Australia, including Lifeline and Beyond Blue. You can find their contact details at the end of the post.
The overall idea was to send a message of things I would like my younger self to have known, and I chose to address my message to Nine Year Old Kym.
I chose that age pretty specifically because that was the age that I remember having absorbed so much of the negativity around me, in the way girls spoke to one another - to me specifically - and internalised it not only as acceptable, but as NORMAL.
Looking back now, having done a shit-tonne of work developing my own sense of self worth and becoming confident in who I am, I can see that whenever I engaged in Girl on Girl Hate (and sadly it took years to truly stop engaging in this kind of behaviour), it was more a reflection of how I felt at the time, than of those said Hate was directed towards.
I think it's also really important to recognise that this kind of behaviour is something which our culture still very much ENCOURAGES. Seriously, think about all of the toxic negativity we see spewing off the covers of trashy magazines, on TV, and out of newspapers. Anyway, this is a big part of why I now make such a considered effort to encourage women and girls to support one another - and why in The Girl Gang, I try to promote the idea that Rad Bitches Stick Together.
I also don't own a TV anymore, and I rarely read the news, because I'm trying to limit my exposure to things which frustrate or piss me off. I never buy trashy magazines and if I feel like indulging in a little pop culture, I stick with titles like, The Collective, Womankind, Yen, Peppermint, Frankie, or Bitch, because they offer well rounded, complex and nuanced representations and interpretations of the world we live in.
I think that this is also part of why I've always felt at home within fringe communities filled with artists, goths, punks and metal heads - even though many of those communities are super filled with dudes, I always felt accepted, rather than competed against.
Over the years, I've learned to be far more patient, understanding, and compassionate, but I still get super worked up about a bunch of issues - most of which tend to centre around inequality and systems of oppression.
I'm super fortunate to know (and know of) a number of incredibly wise and articulate people who frequently write and speak on these topics, so today, I'm going to share links to some of the pieces I feel are worth considering today.
My friend Penny attended Amy Gray's International Women's Day Opening Address during the week, and wrote about 11 Ways Amy Gray Inspired her.
Last year, my lovely friends Stevie and Luc - who collectively formed Team Earthling, explored International Women's Day from a vegan perspective, along with some of the ways in which animal rights organisations fail as an intersectional movement, in their podcast Why Intersectionality Matters.
I would also encourage everyone to check out Amy McGuire's piece for New Matilda, All Feminists Are Created Equal, But Some Are More Equal Than Others which discusses the unique forms and systems of violence experienced by Indigenous Australian Women.
Take the time to learn about the history of International Women's Day and it's roots as a revolutionary movement, and the relevance it still holds today. This article written by Rebecca Winson, was published last year on New Statesman.
I'd also encourage you to learn about what actions YOU can take to prevent violence against women and children, and the ways in which you can offer support to those who are currently experiencing, or have experienced male perpetrated violence through initiatives such as Our Watch.
Check out Annabel Crabb's piece on being a Proud Bad Feminist.
Or learn about the Radical Brownies, based in Oakland, CA. who aim to "empower young girls of color so that they step into their collective power, brilliance and leadership in order to make the world a more radical place."
Now having put my first video up, I'm feeling a little braver about the whole thing, and I've decided that I'd like to send a message to both 17 Year Old Kym, and 25 Year Old Kym.
How have you celebrated International Women's Day this year?
What message would you like to send to a younger version of you?
In the meantime, let's all stick together, learn from, and support one another - even when we disagree - that's the beauty of open dialogue.
Contact Details for support services and resources available in Australia:
Lifeline Suicide Prevention Hotline: 13 11 14
Victorian CASA (Centres Against Sexual Assault): Sexual Assault Crisis Line 1800 806 292. For Sexual Assault Counselling Services 1800 RESPECT
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636, an Australian "national initiative to raise awareness of anxiety and depression, providing resources for recovery, management and resilience."
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