Speech by Rae Knopik, Founder
Hello, and welcome to the first CBR Gals happy hour. I thank you all of you for coming to support this cause, but first, I am here to share the vision of the CBR Gals.
As you may notice, I talk a little funny. I was born on the 7th of February, 1995 in Florida, America to a pair of adoring, dedicated, and somewhat stunned parents. Stunned because my mother is a woman who envisioned having just five sons. And she felt this intuition so deeply in her bones that she could not imagine a future different. She believed so strongly that she would have five sons and no daughters, that when I came out female, she saw my umbilical cord and believed it to be something else.
Years later, when I was old enough to ask why she wanted five sons and no daughters, she smiled and said, “Because Bae, men are wired to connect; women are wired to compete. For jobs, for partners, and generally against each other.
I repeated what she said many times, until one day not long after that, I folded the words into a tiny, tiny box, sealed it, and filed it away on a shelf in my mind to acquire dust.
Years passed, and with a little sister in tow, I realized just how right my mom had been to want five sons and no daughters. My sister and I were wired to compete. We were forced to share a space, and toys, clothes, and friends just seemed to follow. I snatched my separate corner of the room and didn’t once glance over my shoulder. I didn’t need to. Every step I took she molded her feet into my footsteps. I saw her everywhere: school, dance class, with my friends, home in my — sorry, our room. I had to put a visor on to keep her out of my peripherals. I hated feeling like I had a copycat pulling ranks everywhere I went. I hated her.
In high school, with a strong sisterhood of friends and teachers surrounding me, I took the visor off just in time to leave little sister to start filling in her own footsteps. To make her own path. And probably, to snatch her own corner in the world. My mom, sister, and I, combined together, it took the three of us 76 years to realize that mom had been only partially right: sister and I were wired to compete, but we can be taught otherwise.
Because girls are wise.
And women can rise above basic wiring.
When I moved to Canberra, I discovered two things about Canberran women. The first, is that every woman comes from a different place. The second, is that we all choose to live in Canberra because we are searching for that thing which is greater than ourselves. I also noticed a third thing: that Canberran women struggled to find their people, grow together, and build that greater thing. And that’s when, the dusty box in my mind creaked open.
I am immensely privileged to be in the presence of so many powerful women who are strong enough to come and support each other. I am blessed to share love with both my mom and sister, the latter who was the first person on this planet to wish me a happy birthday today. I am so humbled to be standing arm-in-arm with every one of you today. You are the CBR Gals because without your strength, we are weak. Without your success, we don’t succeed, and without your grace, we don’t exist.
Thank you Temporada, for hosting this, the first of many, CBR gal events (you will always hold a special place in our hearts). Be sure to order the Wapengo oysters: they’re the best. My name is Rae, we are the CBR Gals, because we are the empowered gals, who empower gals.