Liberated from Those Negative Anthems

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Liberation is such a juicy, meaty word. Lots to let slide around your tongue as your brain synapses fire rapidly trying to understand the fullness of the word.

What is liberation? Can you see it? Feel it? Taste it? Breathe it in? YES! I think you can.

I think you can also feel weights lifted off and chains broken. I think liberation resembles and can be confused by freedom, as they both mean living in a new state of being when achieved. But I think freedom is our God-given state of being. Liberation requires work, effort, a fight, to challenge an oppressive system. Liberation is the moment when you feel air go deeper into your chest and your shoulders pick themselves up without effort.

Liberation, for me, is fighting systems that free up others to be who they are and who they were meant to be. Liberation is an action, not something passive. It requires engagement. Liberation is an act that holds things up to daylight for those affected by it to say, Nay, no more.

When it comes to positions that seek women’s equality they are hard fights, tough knock-down, drag-out fights. Things like fighting patriarchy, challenging expected gender performance, seeking freedom from capitalism and to be able to choose my faith freely are but a few.

It’s the big things, but it’s also the little things that make up those structures that need pushback. The subtleties that sometimes we don’t even realize have infected our psyches.

I’ve noticed cosmetics companies jump on this the last while. They have phrases that sound liberating until you realize how much money they are making off a patriarchal ideal they rebranded and sold to us as if this is our idea.

Like Cover Girl’s I am what I makeup. But why do I have to make up?” What if my natural state is a revolutionary act against those systems that suffocate women?

The Gillette Venus commercial bugs me. In it, a hair-free female comes out of the water in a white bikini and the narrator says, “The smoother the skin, the more comfortable you are in it.”

Really? Am I?

Why, though? Why are you trying to sell me this narrative? It’s a narrative we need to liberate ourselves from, and all narratives like it. What this narrative sells is insecurity, i.e.: “I can’t be hairy.” It sells products for us to buy like good consumers and for someone to profit from those insecurities. Fear and false insecurity are being shared as truth, and it’s a toxic blend of patriarchy and capitalism, a blend in which women rarely do well.

What if we shed those voices that purposefully sound suspiciously like our own? What if we never let another commercial, ad, or voice of a friend that is anything less than 100% positive speak to us? What if we loudly celebrated all of our diversities, rather than trying to cram ourselves into a preconceived idea of what being a woman means?

Liberation comes by listening to the voices speaking to us and analyzing and thinking about them and who they benefit. Do they benefit all of us?

It’s not about trying to find personal empowerment within those systems. It’s about burning those things to the ground, so everyone finds liberation, freedom.

I struggle with voices; I think we all do. In particular, I struggle with voices that say I’m too loud to be feminine or I’m too opinionated. But those very things are what make me, me.

I know who I am, who God says I am.

So, in my freedom I fight the dominant voice(s) so we can be liberated from those negative anthems. I am not saying we need to give up the things we enjoy about being women—what make us unique and how we express ourselves that’s unique, but we should always be analyzing and questioning the messages we can easily identify and the subconscious ones that are harder to nail down.

When our sense of self can be a marketing tool, when women’s very sexuality has been commodified, how do we find liberation from those who benefit from our oppression? I believe it is by living as authentically as we can, by celebrating differences rather than assimilation, by believing God made a perfect creature in yourself and that he created you exactly the way you are, because God wanted to look at you every moment of every day.  

I do not want to give the impression that I am so enlightened, I do not have my struggles. I do. I just try to be aware of them and call them out.

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Trisha Baptie
Trisha Baptie is a prominent activist, consultant and sought-after presenter and writer regarding the issue of abolition, women’s equality and violence against women. She is also the Executive Director of Honour Consulting and founding member and Community Engagement Coordinator of EVE (formerly Exploited Voices now Educating.) In her spare time she likes scrolling Instagram for sloth pics and finding ways to proactively avoid cleaning, but does enjoy laundry.
Trisha Baptie
Trisha Baptie

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