Written by Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez

Becoming this free woman I have become was painstakingly long and it cost me a lot of friends, mentors, and family. However, I would rather die protecting her than to ever live as the other woman every one else wanted me to be.

I was taught to be
an obedient woman,
a quiet woman,
a kind woman,
a modest woman,
a prudent woman,
a straight woman,
a scared woman,                                                                                               

a happy woman – no matter my circumtances.

I was taught to be the kind of woman that men write poetry for, the kind of women who would break her back for everyone around her, a tired woman – because it meant that I had worked hard.

Giving up that other woman hurt me, because it meant rejecting the woman my mami had chosen to become for years. Without my mami I would be half the person I am today. Without my mami I would not be who I am today. And it felt disrespectful to reject that other woman. It felt like a dishonor to not want to become what everyone else thought a good woman was and is. Giving up the idea of that other woman, as a good woman, meant accepting that free women are seldom treated fairly by society. Giving up that other woman meant throwing myself to who this free woman could do for me, instead of idealizing this other woman who worked hard for other people instead.

Painfully detaching myself away from that other woman everyone else thought I should be took me years. That other woman did not serve me, she did not let me grow, she did not encourage my defiance, she did not want to flourish.

A free woman cannot be contained again. Because once you have seen all your brilliance, that brilliance that is hidden in the shadow of that other woman, you cannot and will not want to give up on yourself. It is intoxicating being a liberated woman. Being a free woman makes me feel alive in a way that I never knew I could feel.

Yes, I still breathed before, I nourished myself, I slept sufficiently, I walked, and I moved, but I was not living.

Today being a free woman feels like coming home to myself every single day. It means looking at myself in the mirror and knowing who is looking back at me. Staying a free woman is something I need to protect almost every single day; I have to defend my voice often. It means saying what I want, what needs to be said, when I want, and how I want to say it – and not letting people censor me. Becoming a free woman means wearing whatever I want to wear on my body. Becoming a free woman means living in the world similarly to how men live, but doing it intentionally – defiantly.

Being a free woman is hard to describe, it feels like something only other free women can understand. I fight and scream and cry whenever that free woman is threatened, because being this free means living with my eyes wide open. Being a free woman doesn't mean I am perfect, it doesn’t meant I have it all figured out, it does not mean that I now know how to tell other people how to live – NO – being this free is a new level of consciousness. If/and when I chose to act in defiance of my free womanhood it is with an awareness and fully conscious.

To other free women, if our mami’s aren’t free then there is still work to be done. If you sister isn’t free there’s so much to do…if your papi isn’t free then we have got a lot to do, if your trans friend isn’t free then the work is still there. Being a free woman means working hard every day to free others, till we are all free.