Anyone can be creative and everyone has a creative side, for at a base level, humans are creative beings. Women especially live that creativity. We color in the stencil outline of the world. We’ve had to, for survival. In a world that has constructed gender roles that continue to limit us and make us more susceptible to violence, women have come at the challenge of being seen, being heard, and being recognized, creatively. We’ve had to and we do it gloriously.
This creativity takes shape in our daily lives. We draw with our children, read them poetry and stories, create games and make-believe tales, pretend we are animals and librarians, teachers, and train conductors. We build safe nests for ourselves, our partners, and our families to settle into. We listen to our children sing while we cook up ideas to help them eat their vegetables. We decorate rooms and cookies and on-line photo albums. Even when we cannot afford the five-star activities critics say will make our children the best, we clip coupons and find every free opportunity we can scrounge up for our children to have well rounded educations.
Our creativity extends into every area of our lives and how we present our physical selves is no exception. Women’s dress is constantly examined and criticized and knowing that, we wear make-up or we don’t, we wear skirts or pants or mom-jeans or skinny jeans, heels or flats. In a world where our choices are constantly being evaluated for us by other people, women find ways to be creative and to have voice. Whether we want it or not, we are constantly recognized as bad or good art. We dress ourselves with that in mind. We bend gender roles and societal expectations of nice girls and of “bad” girls. However it may look, our presentation of self is a part of how we are creative.
The way we live our lives is creative, but we are also intentionally creative. We organize each other to claim rights, using our voices and our silences. We have sewn quilts for our dead loved ones. We have painted our breasts, painted with our breasts, and tattooed lilies where our breasts once were. We have written and performed in plays about our body parts to speak out against their condemnation, even while others try to shame and silence us. We have decorated T-shirts and hung them on miles of clotheslines across the country denouncing violence. We create mail art about what we would like to see for women. We blog about our children, our crafts, our families, our bodies, our spirituality, our health, our lives, our feminism, our rights, our love, our art.
Women write poetry and novels and short stories. We read these words and perform them. We are painters and sculptors. We are music writers and music makers, singing songs into our worlds. We write plays and screenplays and we are actors in them. We make movies and choreograph dance. We are the dancers and the dreamers. We are ones who make things happen.
Women’s creativity extends beyond description. What I refer to is a creative existence that women livefor survival on this planet. Our creative selves come from the tension in a system that treats women as inferior. The tension is between the belief put forth by the system that women are ‘less-than’ and women’s belief that we are strong, amazing, and quite simply, ‘more-than.’ This is not to say that if you give any woman a paintbrush, she will be a brilliant painter. The point is that women live their creativity as a response to oppression, whether conscious or not. This creativity is cross-cultural, necessary, and when examined, amazingly beautiful. Our art shapes us as well as the world and saves a place for us when the societies in which we live try to silence us and shut us out.
As a woman writer, one of the many reasons I write is to have my voice heard. I write myself into the world as a woman and challenge all people to explore their creative sides. I encourage all women to acknowledge their creative selves. In this spirit, I will close with a poem:
On A Day Without Patriarchy
I am no longer an imposter,
A raw-boned boomerang woman
who stirs the darkness like a dare
My monument breasts are a part of me again,
their slouched hiding spot a thing of yesterday.
My picture-show thighs, my ocean-side belly
woven into babies whose care
is not a biology-tired obligation, but my choice.
Today, I stroll dark allies without worrying
about the rape map of padlocked doors
or the hundred commandment list
of pepper spray and modest clothing.
I can have it all: the job, the family,
the pleasure, the pay.
My body, my flesh, my holes,
my bones, my ghosts,
I decide forever, for today.
Sing me whole. Sing me human. I am woman
Not a washboard or a washwoman,
not art on your wall or the princess
in the turret’s peak.
I unpaint my sister lips
and shout, like I would on any other day,
that we must live. Live.