This is a post about feminism. Actually, it’s not. This is a post about myself and feminism. Or my take on it. Or how confused I get when I’m trying to get my point across. I’ve started and deleted posts like this so many times before, because I want to do the subject justice. I want to do myself justice.
ACTUALLY SCRAP THAT. This isn’t about feminism, but I’ll get round to posting something on this. Maybe when I’m doing a clever one day. This is about being a WOMAN. And a Mother.
I spend a lot of time inwardly conflicted about my views on it all, and how this all intermingles and works for me in the every day. I see an image of myself mirrored back at me which isn’t how I see myself and my beliefs sometimes, and that troubles me. I know I believe in equality. I know I believe in agency and ownership of the self, and I know I don’t have any time for anyone that believes men and women have innate biological or ‘natural’ roles. I’m going to use the only, and best, example that I have of this. I’m going to use myself as a Mother as starting point. I’m not naturally maternal. Bonding didn’t come easily. Motherhood wasn’t the only thing I dreamed of, and it didn’t become ‘all worth it’ and the be all and end all for me. There, I said it. But, I said this to someone recently, and they commented back with:
“Yeah, I guessed as much. You don’t seem like a natural Mum at all”.
Notice the use of the word Mum. Totally different connotations to Mama, or Mummy, or Mother. In any case, the statement really, really bothered me. Although it was, probably, true, I felt the urge to defend myself, explain away my actions. Instead I said “You don’t know fuck all about me, son”.
It’s strange. During both of my pregnancies, I was fiercely proud and protective of my babies in-utero. When I became pregnant with my son, I said several times that I loved him (still an ‘it’ then, at 4 weeks post conception) already. I cried when I had all my scans. The reality was totally different and I looked down at my tiny, newborn son and thought, as most probably do ‘What the fuck do I do now?’. I always assumed that I’d be the one who was more confident, more immediately loving with our son but it was actually my ex-husband who was. Up until that moment, we’d had really traditional conjugal roles. I’d gone on maternity leave early, at 31 weeks, he’d worked, I was at home. It threw everything I knew, and my plans, into a spin. The traditional roles continued, and I became even more certain that the staunchly traditional family ideals didn’t fit in with my own. “We’re in serious trouble here”. I know my ex thought that feminism was a tokenist ideal, and it annoyed him. I believe he thought I couldn’t be a true feminist because I was at home I was being supported ‘by my man’, and this bothered me. It bothered me because I, and everyone else, thought it too.
Whatever, it doesn’t matter now. ‘It’s like you’re the man, Ruth.’ I heard this so many times, I still hear it. ‘You think like a man’. ‘You’re not a natural woman, theres definitely something a bit broken with you’. (Stares at breasts. Looks at c-section scar. Nope, I think I’m pretty biologically female, thanks)
I don’t. I think like a person, and one who thinks that all roles are interchangeable. Nothing its innate, nothing is biologically defined for you. You are, what you are. You become what you want and fuck anything that says you should be X, Y, and Z because SCIENCE! Because HISTORY! This is what you’re meant to do! No ta, fuck that for a game of soldiers.
I’ve commented before about my friends who are so bothered and conflicted by the roles which are attached to the terms ‘Mum’ and ‘Dad’, that they don’t use them. They’re referred to by their first names. I’d do this too, but at the moment, I can feel my role in my children’s life getting less and less. The thread that ties us together is becoming more frayed, and I’m relying on the tokenistic nature of the name ‘Mum’ to keep us afloat. So the very thing I am bucking against, I’m using in my favour, and I’m taking advantage of it. What a headfuck, it’s no wonder I spend most of my time looking like a confused rabbit.
Whasserface, that DeBeavoir bird, wrote ‘One is not born woman, one becomes woman’. This is meant to be comforting, I think. It troubles me. What am I supposed to become? Whatever it is, I’m definitely not there yet, and having children didn’t get me there either.