voices of women in law // voix des femmes en droit



A dose of anesthetic and a speculum christened me into an invisible community.

A secret society of sorts,

but the secret is not the society itself, but its membership.

We walk among you in plain sight,

eat your food, tell your jokes, wear your skin.

But inside, our soft tissues hold imprints of the memories that mark us as different.

And when you walk down the street,

to your class, to a new terrasse,

around the block, to a coffee shop,

down the hall, through the urban sprawl,

you pass through the translucent web of our kinship.

Invisible strands like fishing ropes

tossed out into the ocean of humanity by deep parts of our souls,

seeking kinship and the words “you are not alone”.

We are not an elite group

We are every colour, nation, and creed.

No fraternity of Freemasons,

more of a sisterhood of freedom and sin.

Our sisters come from all walks of life.

Many choose to become members,

others are brought to the table through bitterness and strife.

What we share is our initiation,

a process known to many, but still taboo.

The clouds of vapor stole my memories of the event,

but when light streamed through the fog and I opened my eyes, I knew:

something inside me had changed.

I felt pure happiness and gratitude, still floating above myself as the drugs lingered.

As I opened my mouth to proclaim the news,

the weight of society’s finger came down to close my lips, whispering,

“Hush. Too personal. Keep your struggles to yourself.”

I looked down at my heart strings,

most extended far across the country,

connecting to a network back home

far from this new, foreign land.

Those reaching out to new friends nearby were thin,

prone to snap under the weight of too much too soon.

I had emerged successful from a struggle with part of myself

but I could not share my victory

and I could not speak of the battle.

Of moments, sitting in a stiff, unforgiving chair,

being a dutiful student,

when nausea swiftly crept up my throat.

And I locked my mouth shut, kept my eyes open, and moved my pen across the page.

Ah, morning sickness.

I understand.

Breathe deeply, now.

All while a smartly dressed man paced across the front of the room

repeating “Morgentaler”, “changement social”,

and a new word I had learned since I settled in this frigid town: avortement.

Words on paper and in the air

that helped those women.

An unknown flood of my sisters,

who may be like me, who may not be like me.

Looking around, I see people who look like everyone else,

and I wonder who among them

are members of that hidden community

of strength, agency, struggle, softness, and perhaps some shame.

Again, we are invisible.

My experiences are evaporating

under the heat of conformity and confusion of society.

I feel myself drifting upwards with them.

Do I dare disturb the universe?

There are allies outside of this invisible barrier

but the gap is breached silently,

a show of solidarity by wearing black.

Without words,

without pictures,

simply with a colour.

And a colour so dark,

not one that reflects the lightness I experienced on initiation.

But at least one that has a depth to it.

A shade that existed since the universe unfolded itself

and before the conception of our world.

The darkness that we were surrounded by in our mother’s wombs.

We are atomized, but not alone.

Occasionally, we break through the silence,

hold society firm when it squirms at the mention of our bodies,

of our choices.

And when we speak,

we are invisible no longer.


Contours is made possible by funding from the McGill Law Students’ Association / L’Association des étudiant-e-s en droit de McGill. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without permission from the authors.

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