The Power in Our Pieces

Broken is the journey of my feminism.

Bro·ken

ˈbrōkən/

verb

having breaks or gaps in continuity.

“a broken white line across the road”

synonyms: interrupteddisturbeddiscontinuousintermittentunsettled

“a night of broken sleep”

antonyms: uninterrupted

My journey through feminism came at a time in my life where so many things were new. My first day of college, I sat in Introduction to Women Studies and for the first time in my life I saw my experiences as a woman be validated, unpacked and centralized as important subject matter. All of my identities walked into the room with me as this happened, my brownness felt it the most. I was most attracted to the theories of feminists of color. Learning them was like listening to your sister present your jumbled, suppressed messy thoughts and feelings into the room in a way that made everyone listen. Allowing myself to pursue a degree in Women Studies meant opening myself up to a continuation of this exposure that muffled the distancing tactics that I had learned to practice as a student.

With the loss of the familiar and the unknown ahead, you struggle to regain your balance, reintegrate yourself (put Coyolxauhqui together), and repair the damage. You must, like the shaman, find a way to call your spirit home. Every paroxysm has the potential of initiating you to something new, giving you a chance to reconstruct yourself, forcing you to rework your description of self, world, and your place in it (reality)…

-Gloria Anzaldúa, “this bridge we call home: radical visions for transformation”

I recognize that my decision to pursue a degree in Women Studies was a choice that I had to make over and over again because of how much of a struggle it is to use feminism as a tool for decolonizing the mind, especially within the walls of an institution that is founded on the shoulders of those very colonizing principles. I refer to my feminist journey as broken because I identify my feminist journey with myth of the moon goddess, Coyolxauhqui. Her story is one that tells of a woman who quite literally is broken into pieces and blasted into space to compose a greater part of our universe, the moon and the stars.

The tragic heroine, moon goddess, Coyoxauhqui, was killed and her body split apart and thrown into the sky by her brother. Upon receiving word that Coyolxauhqui’s mother was expecting a child that was prophesized to mark Coyolxhqui’s demise, she is P-3infuriated and enlists an army to march up the great mountain to kill her mother before her mother can give birth. Her brother who is located in her mother’s womb, spouts out of the womb as the invincible warrior sun god, Huitzilopochtli. Huitzilopochtli awaits Coyolxauhqui’s arrival to the palace and kills her by cutting her up in many pieces and throwing her remains to the sky. In Aztec folklore, this story helps explain how and why we have the moon and stars. They are all Coyolxauhqui’s remains. Chicana revisionist dialect says that in this story, Coyolxauhqui, foresaw her demise and her attempt to kill her mother was her way of trying to save herself, but she underestimated the power of the warrior god.

My feminist journey has been the process of recognizing  Coyolxauhqui’s many pieces and reconstructing them for myself. Her broken-ness composes our universe, and my feminist journey has helped me find meanings within and across the many “gaps in continuity” that encompass the intersections of my complex identities. Coyolxauhqui’s legacy is a powerful symbol in Chicana feminism. My feminism is for the many sisters that paved the way for me to be here and for my sisters that will come after me. Using Coyolxauhqui’s story to decolonize my mind is my way of honoring the pivotal histories and feminist work of the Chicana scholars and community that came before me.

Feminism has helped me come home. And when I come home, I do not return to a generic place or people, I come home to myself and the only way I know myself is in many different pieces. The experiences of women are dictated by power structures and structural social organizing schemes that aim to take away our agency to centralized our wholeness. Even before we are aware, we are Coyolxauqui’s pieces. Patriarchy breaks women into pieces, forcing our many intersections, expressions, fears, knowledge, presentations, impulses, and reactions into boxes. And at the same time, women are breaking with patriarchal demands to find their own that they want to fashion for themselves and for the world. Feminism has helped me do that for me. Feminism has led me to connect with my many favorite parts, getting to know them, accepting them, loving them. Feminism continues to spark the journey of coming home to my body, the same body that has dedicated itself to my very survival.

Feminism feels like that ball in my throat.

It feels like high blood pressure.

It feels like “do I know too much?”

It is the fearful gritted teeth, sweaty palms and searching eyes in a crowded space with crowded bodies, convinced there’s no way out.

This doesn’t feel complete.

It’s not supposed to be complete.

Thanks, ball in my throat. Thanks sweaty palms. Thanks, high blood pressure.

Broken is the journey of my feminism.

 

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