I tend to be a bit of a romantic, but I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that women sustain me. My relationships with women are not simple. Women also enrage me, piss me off, betray me. But the bottom line is, women are the ones I can’t live without. It is women who heal through meaningful connection, who fix through humble problem-solving, who bring joy through an honest presence. That’s a generalization, of course. There are men who live their lives this way, and there are women who do quite well at manipulation and misuse of power. And then there are all the shades of grey. Still, my passion is for women.

My passion for women is like many other women’s passion for women. A passion propelled by needs, both realistic and unrealistic. A passion based on trust and an expectation of betrayal. A passion accustomed to infidelity, and a passion that never gives up. A passion at war with internalized misogyny and the trivialization of our kind. A wise passion for beauty, like a passion for the mother, like a passion for life.

My passion for women is about hope, not simply because women heal and sustain, but because women are the beginning. A woman is the beginning of a child’s life. Therefore, women are the beginning of all humankind. My passion for women has to do with my hope for humankind–children, women, men. Women are the center of humankind, by nature, by natural law, no matter how much patriarchy tries to erase and reverse this fact. My passion for women, then, is at the center of my passion for humanity.

My passion for women has to do with my being a woman, living my life in my woman-body, the supreme gift of that, and also the pain–pain from sexism, colonization, scapegoating. I carry with me still-unfathomed wounds from the past, and I accrue daily nicks and cuts. My passion for women is a passion for me–a passion to live my life fully and completely as a woman, in my woman-body, with all my rights, and dignity, and boundaries, and power, and strength, and beauty intact.

My passion for women is a passion for justice. Because people I love, and like, and don’t know but who live in their own woman-bodies, are dissed. Our accomplishments are erased. Misogynists use our names and images with disdain. Trivialization of everything female is the norm. Pornography and slander of female sexuality is standard pastime. Battery and rape of women is epidemic–too common, too numerous, too unimportant, lawmakers say, to classify as hate crimes. My passion is rooted in the fact that all of this is wrong, and given to change.

My passion for women involves anger–at other women sometimes, and at myself sometimes, too. Anger at women’s protection of the powerful in exchange for a place with power. Anger at the misplaced rage, the inappropriate blame, the inappropriate forgiveness that follows.

I get angry when women refuse to stand by each other when the going gets tough. I expect more from women, because I depend more on women. I’ve been abandoned by women for those with more power, and I’ll never forget what that’s like. I must also admit there have also been times when I have been too afraid and confused to do the right thing. I know there has to be a place for forgiveness.

My passion for women is no less fueled by pride. I have seen women put each other first, take the side of justice, despite the risk, and I have seen the way everything changes–everything–when women are so connected to what’s right that fear hardly seems to be a factor.

I have seen what happens when women turn their righteous powers on the world. There are women who stand by another in peril. There are women who go to prison rather than reveal their daughter’s whereabouts when a sexually predatory ex-husband asserts his court-ordered visitation rights. There are women who sit in ancient trees for months on end in an effort to stop the clear-cutting of the few redwood forests that are left on this planet.

There are the women who, in the face of poverty, and violence, and media-brainwashing, manage to make cracks in the cement walls of oppression, seemingly with their bare fists. There are women who, against all odds, are healing, fixing, inventing, sustaining, thinking, challenging, changing the world, making the world a home. Out of passionate compassion. Out of common sense. Out of joy and fun. Out of the urgency of the facts.

When women come together as women, armed with healing passion, strategy, and common sense, transformation happens. Sparks become fire, ideas become hurricanes, movements become tidal waves. Even in this current feminist drought, women come together to fight for welfare rights, and are gradually teaching the rest of the population that mothering is work and must have community support. There are established women’s organizations fighting for universal recognition of women’s basic human rights. There are women who effectively stop corporate criminals from toxifying their neighborhoods, who make connections between women’s rights and economic globalization, who demand an end to sexual violence, who envision a peaceful world.

Everyone gets tired sometimes. Often we get scared and confused. We find ourselves repeating some despicable phrase or argument we never willingly allowed into our heads. We find ourselves hating our faces, hating our thighs, hating women who remind us of ourselves, hating the fight, hating defeat after defeat, too tired to remember all of the wins.

This is where passion comes in, passion to make good. One woman’s passion is a lot. Women’s collective passion transforms everything.

I proclaim my passion for women, with all its love, ambivalences, struggles, gratitudes, torments, fury, and exhilerations. I embrace my passion, I learn from my passion, I lay down the carpet for my passion.

And I am moved by the passions of other women–strong women, brilliant women, brave and visionary and ordinary women. It is women’s passion–for ourselves, for each other, for the world–that makes things possible. It is our passion that can sustain, and heal, and transform.