The first time I saw the picture of this bharatanatyam pose I literally felt something inside of me quicken.
It was if I was seeing on the outside, a perfect replica of what I have known and felt on the inside all my life—the girl/woman who resides somewhere around the center of my being and who is my most intimate self.
The consciousness of that inner self has waxed and waned through the years but, with this picture it came back to me in full force during the current revelations of the “p*ssy tapes” of Donald Trump.
“No! No!” This exquisite inner voice was saying. “No! No mere man can define me. No mere man can say in his so-called “locker room talk” who I am or even what I like.”
“I am more than what he says I am.”
When I saw this exquisite picture—which ironically enough depicts the male god Shiva with the moon in his hair—a deep experience of my own individual self re-awakened along with the keen awareness of my interconnectedness with all women.
And then, in the uncanny, yet perfect timing of karma I read about Jessica Leeds and Rachel Crooks, two women who have come forth to the the New York Times with the stories of their victimization by the raunchy, gratuitous, sexual predator Donald Trump and my heart wanted to sing out praise to them.
“Praise for your courage Jessica Leeds and Rachel Crooks! Praise for your self-awareness, your strength and your emotional stamina.”
I wanted to say to them.
“You have told your stories and millions of women—millions—know and understand what you have gone through. Millions of women stand with you. You are not alone.”
A great shout comes from my throat in the honor of these two brave women and in their honor I show the picture of the bharatanatyam dancer to the world calling out:
“See this picture, world?
This is us.
This is women.
This is our poise.
This is purpose.
This is determination.
This is form.
It is us.
It is women.
It’s holding your own.
It’s not holding back.
It is perfection.
This is not locker room talk.
This is not words that separate out our body parts.
This is not them thinking they own us.
This is not them talking about us in lewd terms.
This is not them joking about us.
About how we smell.
How much we weigh.
What size our breasts are.
What we like or don’t like.
What they can do to us because they want to,
claiming that we like it.
This is power,
at it most powerful.
This is strength,
at its strongest.
We cannot be toppled.
This is us.
This is women.
Inside all of us
exists a god
with the moon in his hair.
(Author’s note: I wish to thank the photographer Vasudev Jones and the dancer, my niece, Komari Kumali Mayshark Patel, for their inspiration and for generously allowing me to use this picture. In their honor, I say “Hare Krishna.”)
Author: Carmelene Siani
Images: New York Times ; Author’s own
Editor: Erin Lawson.