please support me in my attempt to empower you

Uplift by Ferdinand Cacnio

please support me
i made

paying attention

When you grow up an only child, in a family that is a perfect definition of “dysfunctional,” you rapidly become both icily independent and ravenously needy, at the center, of course, is a kind of numbness, a kind of strong, cold silence. But the numbness and silence of dysfunctional “onlyness” teaches and allows you to observe things closely.

In my case, that environment produced in my a quirky ability to be both empathetic and critical, while singularly detail oriented. If you can imagine an itinerant social worker, with a kind of refined sense of right and wrong, in a world where people don’t pay much attention to anything that doesn’t directly concern them, that’s me. 

I admit to both what is just romanticized “independence,” as well as clumsy, and, honestly, pathetic neediness. And I see a lot of need in the world.  

So like many women, I ask, what to do? I ask others to please support me in my attempt to empower you, how can I help you? And would you mind helping me? I’m an imperfect creature though, and most times neither my attempts to help or requests for assistance, work out. Why? 


We hear a lot about “support” everywhere these days, particularly in social media, but also in popular literature, as well as in the “serious” press.

Fifty years ago were people constantly offering so much “support” to individuals, communities, ideas?

Today, it’s all about support, and we do our part. We know that we must support our children in their quest for their individuality, that makes sense. And we support the neighborhood food bank, that’s surely a good thing. We know we need to support teachers in their work to educate youth, of course. We support our temple, or church, and our YMCA. 

It’s when the support is applied to ever larger circles of people, ever more distant from us, and even ideas, mostly vague ones, that support starts to become an unstable structure

empower me empower you

Do you support the “me too” movement? Yes, of course. How? Do you support the people of the LGBTQ communities? Yes. How? How do you support the women in Syria? The troops? Here’s my current favorite “support structure”: “I support women.” It has become as dreadful, as meaningless as the widespread “empowering women.” A sentiment that is hard to define and feel. Define. Feel.

“Let’s start a group to empower newly divorced women.” “We want to help empower women entrepreneurs.” “We empower women to be their “best selves” at any age.” 

Lest you think I’m being heavy on my criticism side, and less so on the empathy, I’m probably as guilty as anyone of supporting, all of the supporting that we are all doing. Perhaps like you, I’m quicker than I used to be telling people what I do and don’t support. And I’m totally into the idea of empowering women and girls!

Hash tag that, thumbs up, smiley face, heart.

Yes, I do believe it’s a kind of

“virtue signalling.”

It’s also a way to differentiate ourselves from others, those who don’t support much of anything. I’m ok with that, because there are times when stating the obvious can be a subversive act. 


It was in this general spirit, the spirit of more fully understanding what we’re talking about when we talk about supporting women and believing in and working to empower women, that…

I began asking women, primarily on social media, this: “Name one thing you do to assist other women in your daily life?”

There are many reasons why I chose to ask the question the way I did, I’ll spare you the details. Except for one important one. When I say “thing,” I mean act, I don’t mean a statement. And that thing can be many things, I did not envision it as a necessarily big, dramatic act like giving your “bff” your kidney.

I meant directly doing things with and for women, things besides advocacy. Not that there is anything wrong with advocacy!  

Advocacy, however, is defined as: “public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy.” See, rather passive, isn’t it?

This is where I tell you that my sample was small, therefore this informal poll, that’s still going on, is more a gathering of impressions than scientific research. And I have to admit to a bias to begin with, I’ve been thinking about these things for a long time. Nevertheless, the answers are interesting. 

I received lots of statements like this: “I support women who…” and “I work to empower women who…”

When I got an answer like “I complement women” it actually moved me. Silly, I know, but it felt like this woman was engaged in a subversive act! Perhaps because it was a real act that physically embodied both support and empowerment.

I feel like this, I think many of us are toiling away, spinning webs of support and empowerment, preaching to the choir, quite alone. We feel strongly that older women have been invisible too long. We feel strongly that ageism is the next big “ism” we have to conquer. We have suffered sexual harassment or abuse, we have been passed over for promotions because we are women.

We are tired of having to be everything perfect, for everyone, all our lives and all the time!

Me reiterating these things though, these truths that we are all aware of, me writing this post, is just spinning a web. Yes I crave your “support,” and what it would do to “empower” me, but how are you going to manifest that? And how am I going to manifest my support of you, and your work? That’s the real question.

i made

This was my first real attempt at taking two unrelated pieces of clothing, a linen scarf and a velvet top, and making something completely new out of them. A recycling/upcycling project. What I like about it is that it’s made from two of my favorite materials, what I don’t is that it looks kind of frumpy. It is however extremely comfortable.

It’s a silhouette that I truly love, a kind of homage to Romeo Gigli, a designer I adore. If the skirt was a bit more tulip shaped… you can see what I mean here, don’t laugh, it’s an homage, not an exact copy. Excuse the “dots of light.” Look to the right, at the Pinterest pins, to see more Gigli.


“The planet’s witnessing the appearance of a new creature now, ones that have already conquered all continents and almost every ecological niche. They travel in packs and are anemophilous, covering large distances without difficulty.
Now I see them from the window of the bus, these airborne anemones, whole packs of them, roaming the desert. Individual specimens cling on tight to brittle little desert plants, fluttering noisily-perhaps this is the way they communicate.
The experts say these plastic bags open up a whole new chapter of earthly existence, breaking nature’s age-old habits. They’re made up of their surfaces exclusively, empty on the inside, and this historic forgoing of all content unexpectedly affords them great evolutionary benefits.”

Olga Tokarczuk, Flights

Winner, The Nobel Prize in Literature, 2018




  • stefania says:

    Dear Anita,

    thank you for bringing to my attention the right question: what exactly is my concrete contribution?

    You have a point. It’s easy to confuse what we believe in and what we actually do.

    I’ll keep you question in my pocket, like a compass

    • Anita Irlen says:

      Stefania, I so appreach your “approval.” I’m not meaning to shame anyone, this question is one for me as well as for others. Thank you so much for the comment!

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