Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mama Bean is stuck at the crossroads of OWS and feminism and motherhood and also, the internet has themes

My husband posted this story to his facebook. And now we're going to have two heavy, sort of political posts in a row on here. Weird times, friends. (There's a lot of linkages in this post, sorry. ) (I promise to return to light-hearted anecdotes of my adoring toddler and baby soon.)

There are some who will say this woman should not have knowingly put her pregnant self in such a charged situation. Which sounds, to me, a bit like saying, well she shouldn't have been wearing that dress and walking down that street at that time of night, if she didn't want to get raped. As if anyone wants to be raped. As if this woman wanted to be kicked in the stomach and pepper-sprayed and miscarry. As if anyone wants to encounter violence and assault. As if anyone should expect violence and assault.

Because we have a right to personal safety. And the police are supposed to uphold that right, not counteract it. And we have a right to protest peacefully, and to be met in our protest with non-violence. (At least the St. Louis police got it right.) Again, maybe this sounds terribly naive of me. But I want to believe I still live in a world where this is true.

In the vein of Eve Ensler's brilliant words at HuffPo (seriously, just stop reading this, go read that, and call it a day), I am over it. I'm over blaming the victim. (For example, this guy. I am so over this guy getting nothing but a slap on the wrist.) I'm over the kind of privileged thinking that presumes it can judge the necessity another person feels to protest, because it is privilege (and I am privileged, too, and fully acknowledge it) which allows us to think, "Geez why don't they just shut up? What is there to complain about anyway?" Let them eat cake, indeed. I'm over a culture that continues to "hystericize" women - that continues to tell us we're too emotional, too vulnerable, too precious, to have our opinions and passions and yes, our dirty "hysterical" emotions count for anything. I'm tired of apologizing for being naive and "crazy." (Here's some great thoughts on that whole thing.)

Do you ever find the internet has a theme? Like, all these disjointed posts and facebook links and current events are all speaking to the same thing, for no apparent reason? For me, the theme lately has been the intersection(s) of motherhood and feminism. How do I raise a feminist son and daughter, when so  many societal messages tell us feminism is no longer relevant? How do I respond to those societal messages, when it's women telling other women to stop being so "hysterical" or we "won't get anywhere"? (How can someone, in the same breath, acknowledge there's somewhere else we need to get to, and disdain of using our voices, the only tool we have, for getting there??) How do I deal with what television has done to my favourite Canadian character on TV ever; are we really rehashing this poor beaten dead horse that motherhood and career success are not mutually exclusive? In fact, while I am writing this post, this comes across my facebook wire, and I just...really? The answer to hormones is "Buck up and have some self control?" What about helping young women actually understand menstruation, how about taking the shame out of it, how about taking responsibility for the sexual education of our children instead of leaving it to their schools, how about providing meaningful social support for at risk teen women so they're never in the position of feeling their only choice is throwing a baby away? And I don't just mean literally.

Seriously, the internet has themes. Roseanne's got me feeling all warm and fuzzy about menopause, for pete's sake.

I just bristle at it all. These tensions between the responsibilities I feel toward my intellect and dreams and career, and the responsibilities I have toward my children and my family. And why does that have to be a dualism anyway? Eurgh! Pregnancy and motherhood don't make women suddenly weak. Having small humans who depend on us, who we are driven to protect at all costs, doesn't mean we ourselves become dependent and needy of protection. Motherhood has revealed to me strengths I didn't know I had, or indeed, did not have before. 

The world is dangerous, I get that. The dangers are real, including the dangers of protesting. But I can't reconcile myself to sacrificing my right to speak out or have an opinion or even get a little "hysterical" just for the sake of playing it safe. I don't think that's the call of motherhood. Because if I do that, if I am cowed by the overbearing danger of simple existence into silencing my voice and hermitting my family, all I will succeed in doing is raising dependents who, in addition to fearing the real dangers of life, also fear they have no voice, no tools, no means of fighting back. And I refuse to do that to them.

(My response to PBs post, btw, was "i have no words. and i have no grace. someone must pay for this shit." Because I am having trouble finding grace in these stories coming out of OWS. I can't see where redemption is coming into this Story. It troubles me. Maybe that's why I keep writing about it, because that's how I deal with being Troubled. I was reading some poignantly topical chapters in Brian McLaren's Naked Spirituality, which focused on praying compassion into the lives and world around us. I couldn't quite get where he was leading, but I know it was God whispering out some answers to me, showing me the grace. I will continue looking for the faith to seek and live that grace out.) 

1 comment:

  1. Heavy, Thoughtful. I feel overwhelmed. I need to incubate with some of these ideas...

    PS - not having fb is a good thing right now. I appreciate living in my little cocoon. I even stopped reading the paper (not on purpose, just busy with other things) Ignorance can be bliss. And then you open my eyes and I know I can't hide from all this....