to celebrate international womxns day we invited a handful of the shambalan diaspora to write their manifesto for a better future, for womxn around the world.
Adah Parris is the creator of Cyborg Shamanism, a modern-day philosopher and one of Shambala’s Imaginarium hosts. Her manifesto is a rallying cry against inequality, against versions of feminism that don’t make a home for diverse womxnhood, against the branded Feminism you see on the t-shirts of politicians who won’t offer a hand up to the less privileged. Updating Feminism™️ in the context of the techno-crazed Anthropocene, Adah’s manifesto demands that, while all around us the quest for augmentation reaches fever pitch, we reach out with fleshy hands into the past, so we might better know ourselves and better survive together. In the words of Donna Haraway, “we are all cyborgs,” and Adah cries we need to be Shamans too!
We must remember that we are human first, and we should not remove ourselves from our responsibilities to ourselves, to the planet and to each other.
I choose another way of seeing, of being.
And so, I start with the words of Sojourner Truth, African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist, who asked
“Ain’t I A Woman?”
We are more than the slaves, servants, nannies, nursemaids, mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts and wives here to be defined and valued in relation to someone else.
We are womxn, together, in whatever form we take.
Because there is no one answer to what it means to be a womxn.
Should there be?
Society has led us to believe that our measure of success, our value is in our anatomy.
In whether or not we have given birth.
The size of our breasts, our lips, our hips, our arses.
In the look, size and shape of our vulvas (because we all should have one… right?).
In what we choose to wear, or not.
In what we choose to do with our bodies and who, and how, and how many we consent to sleep with.
In our purity and our chasteness.
Because ‘holy deity’ forbid we choose to be ethical sluts, sex workers or shun monogamy for something else in which we feel that we finally find and use our voices to express our wants, needs and desires.
We are told that our value is our educational attainment or economic wealth.
In our ability to “lean in” and smash glass ceilings, (ignoring the fact we have to privileged enough to recognise and acknowledge that the ceiling even exists).
Whilst not becoming “uppity” about it.
To know and remain in our place especially if you are a womxn who has further been othered.
We are told that our value lies in the shade and colour of our skin.
In the texture and length of our hair.
We can be feminists, but not “too feminist”
And somehow, our value is supposed to lie in our ability to meet some predetermined markers of femininity.
All pitching us against our sister-womxn, against the other.
Especially those whose lives and experiences don’t quite fit into our bubbles or our echo chambers.
Giving us permission to other the Other whilst using the words of Maya Angelou as our mantra, proclaiming
“And Still I Rise”
There’s nothing ironic about that… right?
We are told we are in an age where knowledge and data are the new power.
But so is wisdom. Wisdom is power. So let us not forget the value in the wisdom of the Other.
I recall the power and the wisdom of those ancestral womxn who came before me, for their stories are my story.
Let us merge ancient wisdom with new thinking to solve problems for current and future humans.
For current and future womxn.
Let us use the tools and technologies that we have (and those that have been forgotten or ignored), to create spaces where we can actively seek out of the wisdom of our ancestors and those womxn whose lives do not reflect our current and immediate realities.
Let not our differences divide us but unite us.
Because their stories are OUR stories.
Let us seek out the wisdom of those womxn like poet Audre Lorde who celebrate ‘The Erotic as Power’.
Let us learn from “our deepest and non- rational knowledge” and celebrate “the assertion of the life-force of women” our joy, our creative and sensual energy.
For these things are not taboo when you experience them and no one can erase the knowledge of our experiences.
Let us not diminish or suppress the realities and stories of other womxn.
And when talk of lovers let us start with ourselves, our sisterhood or tribe.
Because WE are womxn.
Let us gather together in trust, transparency and partnership around the fires, real or digital and harness that collective intelligence that once gave birth to ideas, nations, cultures, economies, ecosystems.
Let us use the wisdom and diversity of our fellow womxn to collectively address some the problems of today and tomorrow and move from I woman to we womxn!
And so, on this International Women’s Day in the year 2020 I leave you with this question.
What kind of ancestor do you want to be?