“If one woman told the truth about her life, the world would split open.” – Muriel Rukeyser
Today’s TIME cover is about that truth-telling. It is also about the shift away from the individual, toward the collective.
When I saw the cover, it reminded me of a conversation I was a part of a few weeks ago – a conversation about a different act of resistance, of women’s rebellion, from a few thousand years ago.
In the Book of Exodus, Pharoah commands two midwives to kill any Hebrew baby boys that they deliver. But, the text says, “The midwives, fearing God, did not do as the king of Egypt had told them; they let the boys live.”
What enabled the midwives to do this, to be so brave?
“They were together, they had each other,” one person in the group said.
I’ve read the story so many times, but that insight made me look at it in a whole new way. It was a pair of midwives, two women who jointly chose this act of defiance.
We can imagine what happened between the lines of the text. Did they speak with one another and decide to take this risk together? Did they just look into each other’s eyes and silently agree on what they would do?
Sometimes we have to look away from what our peers are doing to find our individual, courageous choice. But sometimes, in community, we find courage and clarity that we cannot summon on our own.
It is no accident to me that women appear as a collective in this portrait in TIME. They break the world open not only through the truths they tell but also by upending the idea that the “person” of the year is an individual acting alone.
Today let’s be conspiratorial with each other, for the good.