Bringing Red Tent to West Michigan has meant a lot to me for many different reasons. One of those reasons being the incredible ignorance, and shaming that I have experienced as a woman here in Michigan. It feels like I have to be a part of a small subculture of people that have awareness, and open minds in order to feel like I can be accepted; and to me that is unacceptable. Out in the “real world” there are so many stereotypes, and expectations on me as a woman. If I’m not young, and “pretty” and putting myself out there to be seen then I am shunned as not being acceptable or appealing. If I make myself up and wear clothes that fit me and look good upon my body, then I am showing off and all of the stares and attention are what I am asking for. If I work hard to achieve goals, then I am money hungry, or controlling, or a bitch. If I keep myself small then I don’t have any self confidence, motivation, or goals.
In the last few weeks I have been out and about more than I have in the last couple of years. I took some time in hermitage to try to figure out who I am, what I want, and how I am going to get it. I tried doing what I thought I needed to do to please other people by going back to school; and though I enjoy it, I don’t enjoy being told I have to pay for classes that are not useful for the knowledge I am there to gain, nor do I enjoy being told I have to ignore the fact that my kids are sick, have snow days, or have been asked to leave; or risk being failed. That didn’t work for me. It might work for some, to each our own, right? But I digress.
Being out in the public trying to advocate for Red Tent, attempting to find donations, sponsors, and supporters, I faced a lot of judgment, and a lot of ignorance. And God, how I forgot about being stared at just for existing, I’ll never know. Being a strong confident woman in Michigan gets a lot of attention. Not all of it good.
I went out for a lunch date with my husband, to discuss Red Tent, my emerging business, and life. Walking in to the restaurant some of the men started looking, but when I removed my jacket they didn’t even have the courtesy to try to not stare. Trying to eat and pretend like it didn’t bother me that I felt like a slab of meat under the glass of a microscope as they acted like they were entitled, almost drove me to embarrassing myself and my husband by yelling. I have had a large chest since middle school and I still have not gotten used to this feeling that my breasts exist simply to be ogled, and for a period of my life I accepted the attention, because I was afraid if I didn’t accept it, I wouldn’t get any. That’s bullshit! And I refuse to go another day like that. I will no longer slump my shoulders forward and attempt to hide my breasts in my gut to avoid the men who don’t have any idea how absolutely intrusive they are being. I stand tall because I am proud of myself. If you stare at me, I will stare back, and you better bet you will feel uncomfortable.
Another issue I found, older conservative women looked down their noses at me, like because I didn’t look like them I was barking up the wrong tree. I’m so sorry for them; so stuck in their comfort zones, and patterns, that they couldn’t see. One woman very much reminded me of the female in Horton Hears a Who. It was frightening.
I went to a local store that I had the misfortune of assuming would be supportive. The person who owns the store is male, and I live with a man who gets it; so being that it was a store that is kind of progressive I assumed he would get it too. I was sorely disappointed, but instead of getting the first response, I got something completely different. This one was in a whole different world, and made me wonder if he had been there his entire life and had never experienced anything else. He actually said to me “I thought women got together to talk about menstruation all the time. Why do you need a not for profit for that?” Really? I am so glad that you live in an ideal world, but the majority of us don’t. And what a way to be generalizing. My fault for expecting more than that I guess. I tried to keep calm and explain without the bitch tone coming out, he still didn’t get it. He then asked if I was trying to be like Every Womans Place. To which I responded, “Kind of but not really.”
http://www.everywomansplace.org/ Every womans place is an amazing organization that does a lot to help women and children in our area. I actually would like to have volunteering, fundraisers, and galas to raise money to donate, and help Every Womans Place.
So what is Red Tent, and why is it important? Red Tent is a place that women go to, to find a sacred, loving, nurturing place free from judgment. It’s a frame of mind, an energetic and physical location. It’s a place of rest, of stress relief, of creation, and home. It’s a place where women can remove the mantle of mother, lover, partner, taxi, chef, employee, maid, or whatever their individual responsibilities are during the month, and find themselves again. Why is this important? Women who are nurtured are more nurturing. Women who are loved are more loving. Women who can rest, and recharge can take on the world. Women who can be heard can listen. Women who have had space made for them, can make space for others. And the amazing magical thing about women is that we take the small seed of one kind act, and we grow it, and multiply it. In order to change the world, in order to have more peace, light, love and laughter we need happy strong, supported women. And no, we don’t just get that all the time. I am bringing it to you, because you have been crying for it, desperately searching for it, and trying to make it happen with already busy lives. My heart hears you, I am listening, and I dream in red.
For more information on Red Tent, and why we need it please look at these links: