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Village/Community/Tribe
by Cheryl Rompa
Beltane 2002, Vol 1-3
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detail, Venus at a Mirror
Peter Paul Rubens, 1615, oil on panel, courtesy of CGFA
"Isms"

There are many "isms" in our patriarchal culture that affect us as women and as members of communities -- racism, classism, sexism, ableism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, looksism and fat phobia, just to name a few.

Recently at a training I attended, one of the facilitators made a profound statement about a topic close to my heart. She said, "when we look in the mirror and hate what we see, we are colluding with the patriarchy." The way in which sexism, looksism and fatphobia work to keep our attention on our bodies' "defects" is alive and breathing in our communities. These as well as other "isms" are the tools that serve to keep us disconnected from one another. When we judge ourselves and each other from unrealistic societal expectations we are using the tools that serve to oppress us as women.

Finding Feminism, and understanding that the world may not be as I was told, was so liberating and brought with it the first glimpse I had of loving my body and reveling in my own personal beauty. This is when I discovered that the personal is political. It is a political act to love ourselves and our sisters for each of our individual unique beauties.

In our communities of women there is so much loveliness to behold. And yet I know of so many women who are ashamed of their bodies on so many different levels. Even women who are practicing to reclaim their beauty struggle with the onslaught of messages we receive about what our bodies should look like, act like and be like. This is not an individual woman's issue. As communities we need to look with love and appreciation on one another's uniqueness and reclaim our connection to loving our bodies. This political act will begin to interrupt a powerful tool of oppression and will help us heal on personal, communal and global levels.

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detail, Venus at a Mirror, Peter Paul Rubens, 1615, oil on panel, courtesy of CGFA

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