Warrior – What and How Women Have Survived

‘Warrior’ by the Wyrd Sisters

I was a shy and lonely girl
With the heavens in my eyes
And as I walked along the lane
I heard the echoes of her cries

I cannot fight
I cannot a warrior be
It’s not my nature nor my teaching
It is the womanhood in me…

I was a lost and angry youth
There were no tears in my eyes
I saw no justice in my world
Only the echoes of her cries

I cannot fight
I cannot a warrior be
It’s not my nature nor my teaching
It is the womanhood in me

I am an older woman now
And I will heed my own cries
And I will a fierce warrior be
Till not another woman dies

I can and will fight
I can and will a warrior be
It is my nature and my duty
It is the womanhood in me

I can and will fight
I can and will a warrior be
It is my nature and my duty
It is the sisterhood in me

The first time I heard these warriors, the Wyrd Sisters, at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival

I find myself sitting here in the middle of the night in Saudi Arabia, suddenly yearning to know where this band’s music is to be found today…

The Wyrd Sisters stormed onto the Canadian folk music scene in 1997 with a little cassette tape and a couple of CD’s that had the most amazing songs on it. I first watched them at the Edmonton Folk Festival and like everyone…I wanted their music…all of it…immediately. I bought copies of everything they had and stood in line for autographs like everyone else – just to say hello and comment on those amazing liquid smooth harmonies. I’m a shameless fan of great musicians.

Music like theirs just made me laugh and weep inside – and their womanly self definition was enviable (at least from my vantage point). Of course, their career was just ratcheting up at the time, and I was abroad and homesick wishing I’d stayed in Canada and toured my own music. But I was not ready, and it wasn’t my path…yet. I would tour Europe first, then take my CD to Canada later.

The power of women who ‘get’ women

These woman stood bare-voiced with a new kind of spirituality and vision for who they were as women, who we collectively are as women, what we’ve been through and go through, and where we be. The strength of their voices and the power of actually singing about women’s issues – which are all our issues – rocked the country. I resonated with their desire to fight injustice against women, but also loved their songs that acknowledged and celebrated the ordinary – for these are the things we take strength in – the light left on in the window by those who love us for when we come home, for one.

That song ‘Leave a Little Light‘ to this day is one of my favourites.  I like to think that song is also about leaving a light on for yourself so that you have somewhere to go back to.

Girls are and have always been at such risk

The song ‘Warrior’ suggests and I can’t help but think: so many girls are abused or at least overcome by the forces on this planet by people who would exploit their weaknesses, and we have innocent children who get hurt – badly – or shut down in school. As we know, and despite our best attempts sometimes, girls’ voices begin to diminish and not get equal air time around the age of 12 or puberty.

The risk for sexual harassment is greater for young women. Rape and sexual assault is a real issue that affects all but in numbers far greater for women. We see an evolution of the issues with the introduction of technologies that assist those who would exploit women: human trafficking, sex slave trafficking.

But even in the village communities and cities of some nations, female genital mutilation persists. Worse, we see terror exacted against women and girls like those who were abducted by Boko Haram and brainwashed, abducted and murdered by ISIL/Da’esh and others like them. The exploitation of women in war is not new, only worse.

Each and every woman on this planet can determine when her ‘sex’, her gender and the physical weakness of her as a child, or teen or young woman, may have been ignored, misaligned or injured.

But…we’re still here, still strong!

If you are reading this, then you and I both know – probably with a bit of a wry smile – we’re strong despite all of these things – and because of them. Your story is yours. Mine is mine. Every woman has one. This is the well from which our wisdom is drawn. Thankfully there is goodness on this planet, too.

Looking back on your life, how have your experiences shaped you? Who is that warrior within you – what does she look and sound like? Is she accessible when you need her? 

It’s good to look back sometimes and take stock of when you decided to be strong…when you decided to be a warrior and brave the hard things in life. It all begins with a decision.

And maybe you have had to invoke that energy more than once. In fact, it’s certain that you have. Life is full of challenges, some of them hard enough to sharpen a soul’s wit and wisdom.

So, do you FEEL the warrior within you? When did you first meet her? 

I think I became a warrior the day I stood on a stage with my guitar and sang my first song in front of a school audience, and then did it again for my graduation – only I wrote the grad song.

I think I found my warrior strength through the conversations I had with a handful of teachers who emboldened me by merely loving me. I could see there was a lovable woman in there to love and be proud of. I began to have dreams.

I found my warrior strength in pursuing one dream after another, teaching, music, and eventually travel when I went straight into the unknown – the inconceivable – Saudi Arabia, against the wishes of my family who were afraid for me.

I found a strength in travel that has been the pilot light in my fire ever since. Adversity has made me strong and been my guide to inner peace.

Tell me about you. Let’s acknowledge that warrior power within! What’s your warrior story? 

2 Replies to “Warrior – What and How Women Have Survived”

  1. You have been through a lot. You say it all with “the best vengeance.” Thank you so much for sharing Suheilah. I’ve always been inspired by you, and now all the more so. – LL.

  2. My parents had a volatile & abusive marriage. As the eldest, I would always get between, trying to keep the peace. I usually got the wrath & frustration turned on me. At 15 I was raped after being taken to London from Saudi to try to hide the bruises while I healed. Once my family knew, I was put into a women’s prison, in solitary confinement. I was sent to the States for a hymen replacement surgery & FGM & I ran away. Got pregnant out of wedlock, beat with a frying pan & delivered a premature child who I was advised to let die. My first husband died weeks before my 23rd birthday. And the story just goes on & on. Trauma after trauma. A few times 8 contemplated suicide but my head got the better of me. If I’m gone, those who’ve hurt me survive. The best vengeance is to keep moving forward & be committed to being a survivor & thriver, not a victim. I seek solace in prayer & in my children. But yeah… I know what it is to have cried so much that your soul cries even when the tears dry. I’m told you can see the sadness in my eyes.

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