I had been trying for days to muster the words of what the Women’s March meant for me. Attending the Women’s March in LA was a transcendental experience. I was suddenly removed from the bigoted world in which I live and inserted into a microcosm lead by women of color, speaking their minds and spreading love. There was so much love going around, more than enough for each one of us 700,000 marchers to feel loved and beautiful for what makes us different from the mold.
It was a special march for many reasons. I desperately wanted to attend the Women’s March as a female latina immigrant filmmaker in what now was Trump’s America. Since the 2016 election, I have never felt more isolated, more ostracized, more other. The micro-agressions hit deep and hard, between people’s unwillingness to believe that I can take a leading role at work, to the many job opportunities I have lost because a visa is “too complicated to handle.” These issues wore on me day in and day out and this march was my chance to wear my struggle on my sleeve and let go of the rancor.
During the march, I felt overwhelmed by the camaraderie of all these women chanting in support of each other, so part of me felt compelled (and still is) to yell at the top of my lungs; “STOP DIMINISHING FEMALE PAIN”. Right there and then I discovered there was another reason I was aching for the Women’s March, lying dormant, right beneath surface. I suffer from endometriosis; the disease some think is a myth, others think is my inability to handle pain and few know how to treat. A year ago I discovered I had endometriosis as well as a large symptomatic cyst growing inside of me, untreated. I hadn’t been able to attend the Women’s March 2017 because I could not walk two blocks without being in incapacitating pain. Thankfully an emergency surgery removed the cyst and I am in treatment and well, but I never fully processed the emotional trauma I went through.
I felt like my body was failing me, attacking itself, like I was less of a woman, and there were very few support systems. I dealt with it, swallowed the pain and life went on. However, after feeling the support of all these women marching alongside each other, a feminist epiphany took over me and I felt compelled to share my feelings on endometriosis. I share so that I may hopefully help someone other woman who might go through this, but also so that I can remove the weight of fear, pain and shame off my shoulders.
So here I stand, calling for awareness, action and support. Women have for centuries endured the pain of a patriarchal society bringing us down, and for decades endured the pains of PMS and endometriosis. We are most definitely not weak and can without a doubt withstand more pain than most men. So when we express pain, emotional and physical, take us seriously. Ask women what you can do to help, since for centuries men did all they could to hinder. Men, you carry that legacy on your back whether you like it or not. Know it, own it and act on it. Test for endometriosis. Take the condition seriously. Spread the word, most people still don’t know what it is.
Same with feminism — some still don’t know it means equality across the board. Thankfully, we owe it to some amazing women who have helped bring awareness to the meaning of both words; feminism and endometriosis. Yet, sometimes, during my endometriosis flare ups, I find myself still trying to hide out of the shame. But then I remind myself of the cognitive dissonance that is such shame. Shame that our reproductive systems are attacking us? As if we can control it?
Wait… do you see it too? The odd connection between the patriarchy doubling down to keep us quiet and our reproductive systems acting out? “Enough,” my uterus says.
If we lived in a matriarchal society not only would we be conscientiously treating endometriosis, but we would have probably found a cause and a cure by now. In the meantime let us consider how the continuing pain of millions of women suffering from endometriosis, as well as all other health conditions reserved only for women, may simply be one of several symptoms of the patriarchy…
Amongst these symptoms lets us also recognize the pain of sexual harassment and abuse, of being ignored, unappreciated, underpaid, misrepresented, sexualized, disenfranchised, and the pain of enduring a misogynistic leader. I was afraid to write or say his name because, after all I am an immigrant and they hold my life right in their hands. But I am done being quiet for fear of being kicked out, of being further ostracized (who cares, add it to my list), or for the shame of having a disease I have no control over. So here I am writing my mind, done with pushing all these feelings away. I am also done holding to the anger it all caused, I would much rather spread my love. Marchers, women, feminists, endo-activists and all our supporters; I see you and love you. Thank you for showing up and standing up this past march, and continuously throughout the years, it means the world to me.