In my book I Am Subject: Sharing Our Truths to Reclaim Ourselves, I share parts of my own life story along with the stories of other women who have written about themselves as subject throughout history. When I was learning about these women writers by reading their works and more importantly, studying their life stories, an interesting thing happened; my own life began to change. I gained a greater understanding of who I am and what has made me this way. I realized I am not the first and only woman to live through the painful life experiences I have had, and that knowledge opened a new path for me as I learned how other women—in some cases women who lived centuries before me—confronted similar challenges. The power of women’s stories transcends time and resonates on both a collective and individual level, intensely connected to personal experience.
One of my students eloquently expresses the importance of this collective journey:
Women’s stories can change the world. Though no two people’s experience of womanhood is the same, being a woman poses many of the same obstacles among women. To share your story means that you give other women foreknowledge of the dangers that undermined your path as a woman. Women have a duty to one another to share their stories, no matter how painful or embarrassing, not only because of what we can offer, but because of what other women have offered us, often at the expense of their livelihood. We often forget that there was once a time in which women could not share their experiences. Women have been sacrificing themselves to tell their stories so that we can be where we are now. To stop now would belittle the selfless deeds of these women. (Christi)
Providing a safe place and space to explore women’s truths and establish a connection between others’ experiences and our own allows us to gain a level of awareness that can lead to deeper analysis of our own truths. This type of exploration often guides us toward a more genuine life path. What kind of support would you need to move forward with an in-depth exploration of your own life? How do you believe women can best support one another in this growth process, within and across generations?