how it all began ...
For most of my life, vagina was a dirty word. From the beginning I was told in the very nature of the language I speak, that I was incapable. Pussy meant being weak. The parts of my body that identified me in the world as a woman were insults. It was hard to imagine being equal to the rest of the population when “throwing like a girl” really meant I couldn’t throw at all. At the time, I didn’t think about these offenses as anything but small and inconsequential; it was just how life was.
But these offenses weren’t small or inconsequential. They created a platform where I accepted much less than I was worth. I was molested at 5. I was raped at 19, and subsequently had an abortion from it. I had a child at 28, and I chose adoption for that child. At 30 I suffered a miscarriage. I somehow found myself in a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship when I was 33 years old.
Thankfully, I had another context for life. I grew up around a household of amazingly strong, independent women. The characteristics that felt the strongest in me became my definition of femininity and my identity as girl/woman. Now, that doesn’t mean my strong traits were things like modesty and shyness. Those are not qualities I’ve ever seen in strong women.
Growing up, I saw female role models like my mother speaking up, gathering her strength from the love of those around them, standing up for the rights of those around her, and caring for others in need.
I saw those women make hard, unpopular decisions and I learned about bravery. They openly cried and I learned about strength. They negotiated the price of cars with men and I learned about fortitude. They hugged me when I was scared and I learned about love. It was fertile soil for The Vagilante.
When I was molested and was told never to talk about it, the seeds of The Vagilante were planted and sowed. When I was raped and had an abortion, The Vagilante was born. When I got love and support from the women around me who helped lift me up from that experience, The Vagilante was nourished and she grew. Doing anything “like a girl” became an inner war cry. Being a “pussy” became a subconscious part of my strength.
When my daughter Sophia was born, my superhero awoke in a whole new way. And with lots of help, I was able to make decisions I never thought I would have to. When I chose an open adoption for my daughter, The Vagilante was holding my hand. I made the hard, unpopular, right decisions and I gained a family instead of losing a child.
When I re-established a long neglected relationship with the family of my childhood, The Vagilante was there whispering encouragement. During this election cycle, when I started hearing outrageously predatory and derogatory comments about women from our now president-elect, something inside of me snapped. It was time for me and The Vagilante to become one.
Every single woman I know has gone through at least one of these things, and yet they remain very taboo. When these topics are dealt with, the subtle language around any of these experiences is often disempowering and defeating. So, I am glad to have gone through these things. Having had these experiences, I can use my voice and body to create a dialogue of openness around the conversation of women’s rights and social justice.
Each time I met my breaking point, The Vagilante was there. With each experience, I got to know more and more about the depths of strength and love I had inside of me. I learned the capacity I had to become bigger. I found my self worth. From each experience I slowly came to meet this strong, amazing stranger living inside of me, and got to know her very well.
The only way I could fight violence and hate was with the very thing that gives me a sense of strength, fortitude and love; my womanhood, represented by a thing most people still use to put each other down: a pussy.
The Vagilante goes around as a big, felt fabric and ruffles, pussy, soliciting “love letters” from strangers on the street. People draw and write loving messages to strangers. I turn those messages into vagina origami and send them around to anyone who feels sad or defeated or scared. I’m making femme centric art. I’m writing feminist songs. I’ve been interviewed for a documentary. I’ve been asked to speak at benefits and to be a contributing editor for a podcast. It has started conversations and I feel empowered. The conversations are the most amazing thing for me. Every one of us has a superhero inside of us. I know this now.
Because I’m a big pussy, I know that I can’t fight hate with more hate. It doesn’t work like that. Hating something you disagree with only perpetuates more hate. The only way to truly fight hate is with inclusion and love. I call it "joyful resistance".
We all came from a vagina. Every single one of us. We were all created in a womb. It's something every human on this planet has in common. Because I’m a big pussy, I know that I can’t fight hate with more hate. It doesn’t work like that. Hating something or someone you disagree with only perpetuates more hate. The only way to truly fight hate is with inclusion and love. So with all the strength that is uniquely mine, I am fighting tooth and nail, tits and pussy , tubes, and pussy to slow and stay the piercing march of hate. Each day I walk the streets as The Vagilante in solidarity with America’s 51% minority : women. I lovingly walk to bring awareness, and to activate those around me with my projects of “joyful resistance”. I hope you and your inner superhero join me.