On Being Educated
This month in the USA, a document was signed (the 'Global Gag Rule') that prevents any US funded groups around the world discussing abortion with the people that they are there to help, at the risk of losing their funding.
Irrespective of our stances on abortion, the signing of this document is a very public event to mark one powerful mans opinion about what women worldwide should be ‘allowed’ to do with their own bodies. And however this situation unfolds and the impact that it has on service delivery to those in need, it has had an impact on our psyches as once again we are informed of who we are and the ways that we are expected to relate to the world by someone outside of ourselves.
This is not the first time that the opinions and beliefs of another have directly impacted us as women.
We have all lived a lifetime of being told what to believe about ourselves and what to do with our own bodies and how to relate to our own sexuality.
For most of us it started at birth, when we were very subtly (or outrightly) treated differently just because we were female. As we grew up, the messages continued, coming thick and fast from our families, the media, from schooling and religious communities and from the expectations of behaviour that were placed upon us. Every day of our lives we have been educated out of being the people who we truly are.
From my lived experience and observation of the lives of everyone around me, women and men both, it is not possible to escape an education where the end result is that we are socialised to conform, to fit the mold, to show up in the world in ways that are not the truth of who we are but instead, we fit in, we don’t rock the boat, we don’t cause waves, we don’t create trouble for the status quo.
For me, this education created a ‘good girl’, compliant, agreeable and completely shut off from my own needs, wants and desires. It may have looked on the outside that I was living a comfortable life, but on the inside I was screaming for freedom from the things that I had been taught about myself.
As I began to notice the pain that my education had created in me, I questioned. ‘I have the privilege of being alive right now, so, why do I have so much hatred that I direct at my own body? Why do I use food as a way of punishing myself for being alive? Why do I hide my beauty and panic if it is noticed, as if the way I look is something to be ashamed of or frightened to share?’ As I became more objective about the way I felt about myself, I saw that this body of mine was deserving of respect and appreciation and love, not hatred and censure and shame. And so my healing began.
I know, deep in my heart, that I am one of the lucky ones. I am one of those who have the opportunity to unlearn the lessons that they been taught to believe about themselves, to relearn self love and self worth. To have had the opportunity to love myself back into wholeness.
This is why I do this work, teach these practices, and choose, every single day, to love myself. Because my end result, a relationship with myself where I am a sensual, sexual, whole, unbroken and powerful woman, needs to shared. The world needs more of us to remember who we truly are without the education of all that we are not.
What I would love, more than anything else, is for all of us to have the opportunity to remember, to heal and be who we really are.
So that one man’s opinion is just that, an opinion, and not a defining belief that changes the way that I view myself and the world around me.
If this article has triggered thoughts about the ways that you have been educated to be someone that you are not, I would love to hear from you. And if you want to dive deeper into self love and body love, reach out. I'd love to connect with you.