I Can and I Did.
I was at the ‘Black Bold and Beautiful’ yesterday, surrounded by incredible Indigenous women. Women who have worked hard to get to where they are today. Women who lived under the mission regime, women who survived and thrived from the forceful removal and government regulations.
These women and my Elders are keeping our Culture alive. In our Culture women weren’t second class citizens. Aboriginal women were equal to men. Our women were the keepers of women’s knowledge. This knowledge was not just being in charge of children and the house. Women ran the community. Our female Elders were power keepers, they were not inferior, they stood side by side with our male Elders.
The patriarchal system came to this country with white people. The Europeans that came here were male dominated, women were Chattels not equals. Our way of life was diminished. White men would not deal with our women, to them women being leaders was an alien thought. They treated our Elders with disdain, they looked upon our women as sexual objects and as house slaves.
No respect was given to our women by the invaders. They pushed their system on us, with guns and bibles, they did this so well that we started to believe some of their lies and our women started to be treated bad by our own men. Our men who were supposed to respect us and treat us as equals saw us as objects. Our Women’s business was stopped and shunned, our privacy and our bodies and their functions became something that men interfered with.
Yes our men were treated bad by the invaders and had their humanity striped away, but the invaders taught our men to treat our women as even less than themselves. White men treated women as property and that was taught to our men to do to us. The bible was used to teach us that women held all evil, that we are to suffer for Eve’s sin for eternity. This goes against our beliefs, that we are equal and men and women are responsible for keeping our society running.
Many of our ways became hidden and passed down in secret, turning much into a shame factor. I grew up with very strong women leading my family. My mother and Aunties were the head of our mob. Their word was law. Not one of my male relations was held up as being better or separate from the females, they all, from uncles to sons and nephews had to do the so-called women’s work.
As we are gaining more confidence in ourselves after being kept down, we are bringing our hidden culture out of the dark and to the forefront of our lives, we are not just running feminist households, raising boys to treat women with respect, but to treat them as equals, we are bringing it to our organisations. We are fighting against the white belief that men should be running our organisations.
Our women are strong, but we had forgotten how strong we are. Our women were feminists long before the bra burning. We were the original feminists. Our women stood side by side with our men as equals. Our women are the backbone of our spirituality and our society.