My perfect day. What would be my perfect day. I thought about this a lot in Ireland; how so many of the days seemed like perfect days.
The recipe would read something like:
3/4 c knowledge-either reading, talking or watching
1T writing-even if it’s only a sentence or two
2 c food and beverage-something new, something good, something fresh
Combine, pour into bowl
Bake outside for 45 min
I’ve been thinking lately of the privilege of circumstance. What if I hadn’t been born female or heterosexual or white appearing? What if I hadn’t been born into the middle class family I was? The most frustrating part of me is my inability to put into words the thoughts I have. The things I know and understand that I can’t verbalize, just because. The feelings make sense to me but not in words.
The salience of an identity
I’ve been thinking about being female. It’s a trite observation, for sure, but I’ve been consumed with thoughts of how hard it is for women to escape their bodies.
We are animals on this planet. I think it’s easier for men to forget this. I think for men (of course I don’t know, I don’t remember being a man) they feel as if they’ve breached the dichotomy of mind/body. They are higher beings because in a sense they’ve escaped their own evolution. I think of the bros who lift and what a high that is for them because they’re reminded of their bodies regularly. The male species is strength = survival. The female species is more complex = survival.
I think about what that must be like, to escape your evolution. To be free of the obligations of your species. Not a hunter/gatherer, but free. Not even really needed for the perpetuation of the species. Just around. Free to act on your strange, primal desires as you see fit, willy nilly.
But as a woman, I always am my body. Every 40 days or so, I’m brutally reminded. There was a fury a few months ago when Rupi Kaur posted some of her work to instagram that showed period blood. She did a whole feature on period blood. Images of blood in the toilet, on the sheets, in a woman’s sweats. How gross, said us.
I have a friend who finds women’s bodies repulsive. Detailing the brick and mortar of them brings disgust to his face, listing the functions of them is almost impossible.
But I can’t escape it.
Even when I’m not battling the cramps of my uterus, or the ovulation clenches of my fallopian tubes, with ibuprofen and slow runs and long naps–it’s there. In the weeks before when I get quiet, tired. When my morning workout seems to take twice as much motivation to get through; when I look past the salad I’ve made and seek out a burger or a candy bar; when instead of laughing or forming a retort I grimace and side eye. When I tear up at the strangest sentiments, it’s there. In many ways, I am at the mercy of my femaleness. I have to be aware of my reactions; it’s the only way to curb them, so I have to be aware of where I am in the calendar. How many weeks out? How many days? It’s the only way to reason unexpected pain or fatigue or forgetfulness. Period brain, when I forget to do the simplest things, when I drive in circles or stumble out of my shoes, or get tangled in the straps of a bag. When I only want to interact with certain people or wear certain types of fabric. How I interact with the world is so connected to the physical capabilities of my body. Of that mass of organs below my waist which dictate the size and shape and mood of me. Of how sometimes that presence radiates out to my hips, my knees, and most of all, to my brain.
I speak to older women: my mother, my colleagues, who are on the other side of the rotation. My mother, whose uterus and corresponding bits were removed; my coworker, whose body is pulling away from reproduction. The blood stops, but the turmoil continues.
I will always be woman.
It’s not all that I am, but it’s a consideration of who I am. How I choose to manage the woman has to come first. I don’t think it makes me less than. I think it makes me more than. I am constantly aware–this is all we are. You can forget and create and dream and search for loftier things. But this is all we are. I hold it and release it and cry over it. Because it is a nothing that forces me to feel something.
I think of how men know this. Society = patriarchy = men
I think of how I’ve heard people say that women’s bodies are threatening. How it’s present in imagery from novels to movies to everyday language used in the press.
I think of how women’s bodies are controlled, through our healthcare policies (you cannot force me to carry a pregnancy to term. I am not an incubator) through pop culture. How we’re shamed continuously for being too thin, too fat, too strong, too sexy, too ugly, too smart, too stupid. Too loud, too quiet, too dirty, too hairy.
Anything to keep the woman quiet, don’t you think? I think of how our bodies are sexualized. How can they not be? Heterosexual sex happens in a woman’s body. Inside. And so they are obviously capable of sex and life. You can’t separate the sex from woman, but you can, because we do. We do it every day. It’s a choice we decide not to make. Sex is all we think of, but we pretend otherwise. Sex is not all we think of, but we are overwhelmed by it anyway. Either way, sex is all we think of. The contradiction of being a woman. You aren’t until you are. How all of it has been taken away from us, the lack of control we have in defining and being woman. I think of the control we push onto each other, did you see what she was wearing? that top, that cleavage, those shorts, those legs
The shapes and the sizes we ignore.
I think of how we can’t just let women’s bodies be–let the cleavage show and the fat hang out and the ass glance. Let the wrinkles breathe. I think of the hair and the smells and most of all, the blood. How covert it all is, to be the body of a woman. We can’t escape our evolution; we can’t escape the basest, simplest purpose of our natures, of our bodies, but do we deserve to be punished for it? Just because we are constant reminders of nature and the animals we started out as? Of what we will always be?
Reproduction needs a home, if we continue to live in a world dominated by straight men.
women = sex
sex = body
body = nature
nature = simplicity
simplicity = shame
women = shame
It’s enough to have to be the monitor of this body from the inside. How the ovaries affect the brain, the brain the ovaries, the ovaries the flesh, the flesh the way I move through the world. To be its familiar. To be its constant companion. I don’t need this external shit as a constant reminder too. My body is powerful enough to keep that in perspective for me. The hum is loud enough. It is always on. I don’t need a back-up generator. I guess that’s the problem, then, isn’t it? The struggle to silence the bodies of women. We can’t hear for all the noise of you.
I might never take advantage of its capabilities, but I will always be at its mercy.