Painting by Sarah Ashley Longshore.
In this series of short articles, poet and journalist Lara Gilmour is reflecting on the process of coming to terms with one’s identity as a female. Drawing on the words of female and feminist thinkers, these pieces aim to explore the way in which we construct our individuality through the collective feminine body.
This series is written as part of the project “The Cool Girls’ School of Authenticity”, a platform aiming to provide a space for women and girls to explore their identity through the lens of the female experience. We focus on asking powerful questions about identity and femininity in order to encourage greater connection with oneself and the female community.
Issue 1: I am enough
“Woman must write her self, must write about women and bring women to writing from which they have been driven away from as violently as their bodies – for the same reasons, by the same law, with the same fatal goal. Woman must put herself into the text – as into the world and into history – by her own movement.”
I want to begin with Cisoux’s words because through them I found the peace of mind necessary to begin this series. Although I was sure that I wanted to write it -that is to say, to write about the female experience from my individual perspective-, it felt initially like an overwhelming task. There is so much to say and upon almost all of it I am desperately underqualified to comment. However, one of the most compelling aspects of this topic is its infinite variety, and of the fascinating kaleidoscope of the female experience, I am content to be not the voice, but a voice.
I assume the weight and responsibility of my identity as a female subject. This does not mean that my subjectivity is defined by way of its femininity, however my subjectivity is nonetheless irrevocably female.
“I accept the great adventure of being myself.”
Through the confusing haze of what exactly it means to be female; physically, psychologically and politically, I lay a path with words.
In this way, I am able to see myself as one fragment of a whole; a fragment which is nonetheless whole unto itself.
Just as I am intrinsically individual, there are elements of my experience that can be related to the collective. As I drift and dance through my day, I am constantly constructing, deconstructing and reconstructing my self as both a part and a reflection of the whole. The whole world, the whole female experience, my whole self.
Like a mosaic, I can be appreciated both as a single tile and as a fundamental fragment of the whole piece; a piece of which every single section is integral and beautiful. I create a representation of this mosaic with my words, our words, and through it I depict and celebrate one facet of the myriad of female experience. In turn, the female experience represents one facet of my individuality. I learn and build myself through you and as you, just as you may do so with me; into the unknown, without fear, always onwards, towards love.
As Beauvoir said, “I accept the great adventure of being myself.”
And I think, for now, that is enough.