When I think of any aspect of female empowerment the first person who comes to my mind is my personal heroine, Somaly Mam. Single-handedly one of the most empowering women I have ever known, Somaly has saved many, but I am so eternally blessed to admit she rescued me.
In a world where we empower one another just so as to allow them to reach a status high enough for us to then tear them down from grace, I understand all too well the insatiable need which seems to beg for a chance to dethrone those whose position of hierarchy was rarely, if ever, a personal choice.
A phenomenon which I find to be splendid in its terror is that of the impossible standard set for “the hero”. And yet, more terrifying still, this standard is merely placed on individuals of greatness demanding their perfection, and all at once threatening their doom.
To be a hero can mean one is disallowed to be human… and for this very reason, I deeply and profoundly love and admire my sister, and my very close friend, Somaly Mam. Somaly has shown me NOT how to be a hero. Somaly has shown me how to be human and to humbly do heroic things.
Those who would seek a “perfect hero” are projecting quite a bit, in my opinion. And it perhaps could be said that they are striving for perfection in an imperfect world, thus setting themselves up for inevitable let down. These are the performance-based lovers and love-seekers, or so I call them.
Somaly is not one of those people, and Somaly’s message clearly speaks in direct opposition to such belief systems. Somaly says, “Life is love.” Of course, she need not ever say as her actions speak for themselves. Nonetheless, Somaly lives that phrase every day. But what does it mean? And to what does such a statement elude? The answer is simple: the phrase stands for a way of life which is the absolute antithesis of our societal and cultural conditioning. Life is love means… love is all there is. If love is all there is then all which is not love must not be[in existence]…
That is who Somaly is. She is life because she loves. Somaly knows love is about no conditions, and if anyone claims love but adds conditions they are lying, because love cannot require, love cannot demand, love cannot expect. Love simply is.
This mentality and way of life translates into Somaly’s work and empowers women because instantly a survivor knows they will never be judged and that they will only be fully accepted; they will only ever be loved. This powerful formula needs no explanation as its results speak for itself.
In my own life, after knowing Somaly, I have seen the deep effects of removing judgment and myself from subjection to judgment. It is as if I was a tightly closed bud, fearful of expansion, and now I am an eternal bloom, revealing myself more and more as day by day I continue to flower.
Somaly and the girls in her care have transformed my life, my thought systems, the way in which I interact with others, but perhaps, most importantly the way I see myself. I am lovable and deserving of love. I was lost and locked in the brothel of my own mind until one day a woman named Somaly brought me a key and emotionally, mentally and spiritually set me free.
Who is Somaly Mam? … A deep ocean of wonderment and beauty. Who is Somaly Mam to me? She is my Sister, she is my friend, she is my rescuer; a woman who saved my life.