Sometime in the last two years, I learned there’s a word for what I was referencing in starting this blog: Femmephobia. This is a distrust or hatred of things associated with the female half of the population. At first I saw this as women being forced into unflattering cultural corners because men are bigger and too many of them are assholes.
My reproductive experiences, among other things, challenged this belief. I simply had to do the lion’s share of the work a lot of the time, and there was no helping it. There is a feeling of being weighed down, and we are in a weakened state for a long time surrounding childbirth. In this haze I found myself instinctively doing things I would have assumed were stupid stereotypes with sudden understanding.
What if there is some truth underlying some of this stuff? The thought made me squirm.
Gender roles have become something of a minefield in the past few years. I never expected to discuss restroom facilities with so many different people. This topic is close to my heart, it plays a large role in my defining my own persona. What is woman? is a breath away from Who am I?
Time and time again I find myself back at that place, arriving there from innumerable angles. Upon long reflection and reading across years, I have had to admit that I am an outlier, an outlaw in Feminism. I reject the lingering ideals about women conforming to the template created by men, first given public voice by the Communists 100 years or so ago. The idea that in order to become full people, women had to stop being wives and, especially, mothers. These ideas are still surprisingly pervasive.
While escaping the tedium of childrearing is tempting, and we all know that we need a ton of help if we want to do anything else (like shower!) bearing children is an integral ability of the female form. And it is the crux of the whole issue.
For one, it’s important work. We cannot simply brush the continuation of the species under the rug because we’re tired of dealing with it. Personally, I am tired of dealing with the practicalities of trying to be like men. I had to either leave my six week old infant or lose my job. Because the working world is still the same system we’ve had for hundreds of years, with a few tweaks here and there. I got the job in the first place, didn’t I?
But there’s no pumping room, and certainly not a place reserved for crying during the fits I used to have because I couldn’t stop worrying about him. For the most part, the world at large seems indifferent to the rhythms of mothers and children. Most women have been mothers and I suggest that if we had been more involved in designing things, this would not be the case.
And then there’s the parts of femininity I’m not very good at. I got a lot of flack at that job over the years for essentially not being dainty enough. I have been told many times in my life that I tend to come across as brash or blunt, and I definitely get the feeling sometimes I just rub people the wrong way. Which always blows me away because I have spent so much time worrying about upsetting people, but that’s another post for another time.
So life is made more difficult because I did undertake a quintessential role, and because I don’t adhere to expectations in other ways. Hiding evidence of childbirth and babies, while being demure and flattering? That sounds like a male fantasy.
Which is the other side of it. Somehow men convinced themselves that they are the true rulers of the world. And like anyone with a narcissistic delusion, have been known to go to terrible lengths to protect it. Women’s power in creating the future is obviously a serious threat. Since the Patriarchy can’t make children itself, it oppresses those who can.
From every angle, with every tool at its disposal. Things associated with women are disdained and hated which tells girls everywhere that they are worth less. Quietly but incessantly. This degrading of the feminine is integral to the male identity set up in opposition to it. I know what I am by what I am not. And the lower they push women the higher they appear.
So to attempt to find onesself in the midst of all this is truly a challenge. I have already said some things in this post that some would find controversial, and I have plenty more unpopular opinions. But for the moment let’s just say I am content that I am not betraying my Feminist foremothers if I want to make my own clothes.
Get ready for a new beginning at BrazenShe and some more heavy material on here. Don’t worry, I’m still going to share with you about projects and struggles and schemes and all that granular stuff.
But this post has been brewing for years, and Part Two will be coming soon.