Dear Abigail E. Disney,
Ok. It’s official. I Love you. And not in a ‘oh I heart you lets be BFFs’ way but in a ‘seriously… love… you’ way. And the reason that I love you is that you made me realise how ordinary I am.
For our readers at home who aren’t yet in love with you, I’ll just fill you in: to find out more about Abigail E. Disney (the E is for her great grandmother’s name) google ‘Pray the Devil Back to Hell’ or ‘Women War and Peace’ to get an understanding of the work that she does. She produces films which tell stories of women’s roles in creating peace in their communities. This, believe it or not, is revolutionary in and of itself because never before has anyone seriously devoted time to telling the stories of women who participate in these processes – usually we just hear about the men.
So anyway, Abigail, back to us and by us I mean you and me. I saw you speak at the YWCA World Council in Zurich this year, and loved watching you take a photo of all 900 of us in the conference hall so that you could ‘tweet’ it. You are so humble! So pedestrian! So Gen Y with your tweets and your facebook!
Most recently I saw you speak at the Australian Women Donors Network Gala Dinner (what a mouthful). Throughout your speech I jotted down quick notes of all the things you said that really resonated with me. Here they are as they appear in my iPhone on a ‘note’ that I will cherish, nay, worship forever:
“Everything that happens, happens because of community – be the brick in the wall”
This is the moment I realised I am ordinary. And that that’s ok. You were saying how you awoke to the fact that despite the legacy of your last name you are just as ordinary as everyone else, and that I am ordinary as well. And that this fact will actually liberate me. And the liberation you spoke about was the liberation of realising that I can’t save the world – no one can. But that any change we achieve is achieved through a community working together. Therefore, I need to find out what my strengths are and what I like doing and make sure that my ‘brick’ is put in the right place in the ‘wall’ (I think the wall is a metaphor for the world) so that I can make the best impact possible.
“‘Lollipops and rainbows’ movement will eventually scare people away”
When you said this I melted. And it makes sense: ‘Lollipops and rainbows’ would not be a good substitute for ‘feminism’ or ‘women’s rights’ because in the end we will still be asking people to fundamentally change the balance of power between the sexes – and that concept is scary regardless of what it’s called. You. Are. A. Genius. And I am totally going to use this example to explain to everyone why I love the word feminism!
“A room full of power reinforces a vocabulary you already know”
You said this in relation to the ability of heads of state to change the world. And you meant that in order to really change things, people in power need to be exposed to new ideas, new ways of thinking – i.e. a new vocabulary. And that’s another thing that I love about feminism – and I hope you would agree with me Abigail (and perhaps adopt me) – when I say that feminism is all about challenging and adding new words to people’s vocabularies.
“Women have never been brought to the table”
So true, Abigail, so true! I thumped my fist on the table in support! You said that making women’s voices be heard in times of peace and war isn’t just a moral imperative but a practical imperative if we want to improve the world. For too long 50% of the world have had 99% control over it and so in the name of progress, lets include the women and improve our odds. OK GUYS???!!!!
“What is it that is expected of men that is failing them?”
And lastly… you say this beautiful thing. This confirms something I have been thinking about for a long time. What is wrong with how we define masculinity that is stopping us from achieving gender equality? We can’t fix society if we only speak to, and challenge the restrictions place on women. Men have such a massive role in this movement it’s not funny. It’s not funny is it Abigail? No I don’t see you laughing, I see you being inspirational and engaging and clever and committed to a better world. I love you Abigail. I love you!