I am wearing red today. I wore white panties and bled all over them. Blood ran down my leg and pooled on the floor, leaving a heel-shaped void where my foot had been. I'm having my period, hallelujah! The cat knows it and stays away from me. My husband knows it, begging as I've been for chocolate and sex. I get so horny just before my period starts, and I love fucking during menses. I'm just so free and open then. My cunt is hot and alive, and I am feeling good.
It seems that no matter how good my body feels, my mind still contends with the seeming disparities of my life. I love my body, weathered by child-bearing though it may be, but I am constantly being met with criticism from those who do not value motherhood, and falsely assume that because I have a child I am somehow less desirable and less sexual. I can't tell you how many people obsess over stretch marks and abhor their bodies until they return to their perfect pre-pregnancy selves. It strikes me as absolutely absurd for anyone to expect to go through the utterly transformative process of creating life, giving birth, and growing from girl to mother without being changed in body and spirit. I will not be criticized for it.
Yes, at times I wish my body were as taught and smooth as it once were, and yet, my body is now infinitely wiser and fuller. My hips can carry a child, my breasts can nourish, my cunt can birth and I am beautiful! I move with grace and confidence, knowing every inch of my body in its softness and tender imperfection. I know how to fuck, whereas before I was merely playing at it.
I am not afraid of blood, nor the processes of my body. I embrace the depth of my emotions and observe them as intricately interwoven with the ebb and flow of my cycles. Nine months of pregnancy really force you to learn just how powerfully the mind and body are intertwined. Daily, I practiced Kegels and perineal massage in anticipation of the little one's arrival, and I no longer believe that my cunt is a passive object to be fucked. My cunt can move and gyrate, open and close, and you can damn well be sure that you're not getting in there unless you respect that.
Carrying a child, giving birth, and being a mother have taken me down paths new and terrifying, beautiful and strange. Daily I struggle to feed and nourish the life of another, as well as my own. And for god's sakes, this does not make me less of a feminist. Am I to be judged for conceiving and birthing a child outside of my own narrow "plans"? Am I to be criticized for having unprotected sex and being unprepared for the consequences? Perhaps. But none of these things make me less deserving of respect or of a place among women of all walks of life.
Feminism isn't just for the young, the single, or the childless. It isn't just about the freedom to have abortions, to choose careers, and sex. It's about the freedom to choose, regardless of your choice. I am a pro-choice, sexually liberated, polyamorous mother. Why does this seem like a contradiction in terms? Being a mother may have forever changed my body and psyche, but it does not make me any less of a feminist. If anything, it has made more of one!
Growing up in a family of women, being told not to touch my cunt (although I knew my sister did it every night), and to this day being shamed for my open sexuality and positive body practices, I am unwilling to accept that being a woman is something to be ashamed of. My sisters roll their eyes when I call them and announce "I started my period!" or bemoan the evils of the pill. Shouldn't we be talking about these things? Sex and bodies are not things to be whispered about behind closed doors and relegated to journals and agonized over in our own heads.
We've got to start talking about sex and relationships and STDs and dare to find powerful ways of loving that transcend stigma and stereotype. And no, stereotypes don't just extend to the marginalized of society, they're everywhere, against men and women alike. Why are we so afraid of diseases like herpes? Why do we make those with sexually transmitted diseases feel as though they are dirty pariahs of society simply because these people have the misfortune of having a little sore "down there." We are so ashamed of sexuality that we'd rather ostracize than embrace those who bear the taint of our fears. And if we are "kind" enough to tolerate those with sexually transmitted diseases, we probably won't fuck them. We might get their disease too, and, god forbid, have to experience what it is like to live with a disease and the discrimination of those whom we would love.
It isn't enough to love your cunt, to celebrate your body and your sexuality, if the world is unwilling to receive you. I once proudly brandished feminist literature such as Eve Ensler's "The Vagina Monologues," and idolized sex goddesses such as Betty Dodson and feminist pioneer Betty Friedan. But even these works, though wise and useful, are no longer relevant in the way they were when they were written.
Or perhaps, more honestly, these feminist perspectives no longer fit me. Perhaps they fit the young girl discovering outrage at patriarchy for the first time, or the woman learning to touch herself without shame. Perhaps the Vagina monologues ring true to survivors of sexual abuse and violence; indeed Ms. Ensler's monologues have garnered great attention and have set in motion V-day activism and fund raising to prevent violence against women. However, it seems to me that feminism should not be so obsessed with its goals that it loses sight of a broader, more truthful perspective.
It really isn't just about cunts or vaginas, as Ms. Ensler, and many other mainstream feminists, would have us think. It isn't solely about the violence perpetrated at the hands and penises of our male counterparts. It is about so much more. Sex and violence, liberation and freedom are only half of the story. We are not just our cunts (though god I love them), and men are more than their cocks (yes, you are).
What about our relationships and our families, our children and our parents? Our selves and our sexuality are intricate and infinitely complex amalgamations of our families, our experiences, our lovers, our feelings, our bodies, and so much more. We cannot be defined solely by our genitalia. Even that definition, mind you, isn't so clear; there are woman and men with genitalia of both sexes, with none, with part, or all sorts of variations upon the theme. Gender too, cannot be defined by the sexual organs, as their are men who emotionally identify as women, and women who identify as men, and there are bisexuals, and trans-gendered, and again, oh so many more wonderful varieties.
I am sick and tired of the limited viewpoint that divides us into male or female, penis or cunt. Does it really matter whether we have breasts, are married, have children and are disease-free or whether we are flat-chested, single, herpes positive, and a career woman or man? I mean, to be sure, there are certain things we look for in our partners, and perhaps certain ways we'd like our lives to be. But that sure as hell doesn't mean life is going to turn out that way. Good luck to you, but I do hope you won't despair or think yourself a failure if you are met with the unexpected. I sure as hell hope, that even if you find yourself in the midst of things new and strange, and perhaps quite frightening, that you never give up on yourself. I won't love you any less if you choose to have children or not, if you quit your job or get fired, or if you lose everything you ever loved. In fact, it sounds to me like you could use a friend.
I find it funny, how, throughout history, those who took a stand for what they believed in and dared to live unconventional lives, were abused and persecuted. I always felt that such folks living on the fringes of society needed love and friendship more than any others. And yet they are the ones who bear the brunt of the hatred and fear of those who live within the boundaries of the acceptable.
Now, more than ever, I feel the solitary strength, and at times, pain, of living a life that shocks, and often angers others. Of those that know I am polyamorous, only one embraced me and asked what it was like. The others got mad, got scared, or abusive. To this day, my family can only relate to me if they ignore broad and blaringly obvious parts of my life, such as my sexuality, and my multiple partners. Even my daughter was difficult for them to swallow, as I became pregnant before I was married (I was having sex before marriage, gasp!). Even more confusing to them is that I value marriage as little more than a societal convention, a helpful device when it comes to children and tax breaks. I'd love my sweetie just as much as I do now, regardless of our marital status. Marriage does not equate with love, and relationships are only as strong as you make them. No marriage can do that for you.
As a mother, I am deeply convicted of the need for a new feminism, a mindset and a way of living that embraces women and girls of all situations, persuasions, and perspectives. This new feminism should not and must not stop there. Feminism will forever be incomplete as long as we ignore our male counterparts. Many feminists would argue that no special attention should be paid to the masculine among us: "Hasn't history itself done just that?" "Look in the history books and all you'll see is men, men, men!" In fact, such advocates have even gone so far as to change history to herstory. C'mon, really? I'm about as woman focused and cunt lovin' as you'll get and even I think that is ridiculous. If we're going to go as far as to change the name of history, let's get rid of the term entirely and come up with something non-gender specific, like ourstory, okay?
Yes, there was a time when cunts were getting abused and ignored and silenced and no one was saying anything about it. It was right for women to get pissed and parade their cunts and bare breasts around and screaming in the faces of their oppressors. And, of course, such oppression still does, and always will, exist in a world as full of assholes as it is of activists, do-gooders, and everyday folk. I just think that this raging cunt-tauting feminism doesn't quite fit anymore. At the very least, it certainly doesn't fit me.
There is a progression of emotion in a young woman awakening to the fact that she's lived most of her life under the oppressive thumb of patriarchy. First, she feels anger. Sheer unbridled anger, probably directed at all the men that have ever hurt her and even ones who haven't. She's pissed. Once the anger subsides, she begins to seek knowledge. Why is society male-centric? What happened to matriarchal structures? Where are the female leaders? She seeks answers to her questions, and often finds some pretty disturbing answers. The further she digs within herself, she realizes that her power, and the power of the women around her, has not been lost or destroyed, but buried beneath layers of social practices and psychic repression.
Deep inside, she finds wild and strange incantations, age-old echoes of women past and women yet to come. She looks at her mother, her school teacher, and the female clerk at the grocery store and scans their faces for a hint of recognition, for the body and face of the Goddess. She sees her everywhere and nowhere, trapped in a realm of darkness, alive and barely breathing.
She reads feminist literature and swaddles her pain in their angry words, wrapping her wounds in aggressive stances and male-hating rhetoric.
Years pass, and she loses sight of the Goddess. She discovers her cunt and the joys it can bring. Yes, she has felt the pain of unwelcome penetration, and yes, she has silenced her voice over the years, but still she takes pleasure in her body. Despite the anger she still carries, she falls in love. She enjoys the delights of the male body intertwined with her own. She wonders what another woman would feel like.
She grows up and has a child, and ponders all these questions yet again, and finds that anger is not the answer. She is left wondering what good would the Goddess be without her consort Dumuzi?* What good is fertility and carnal pleasure without a partner with whom to enjoy it? She slowly, achingly, begins to realize that the anger she feels is echoed in the breasts of her lovers. They too feel the pain of the outcast Goddess.
When making love and seeing the vulnerability of a man as he grows aroused and finally reaches orgasm, she sees that he too is in need of redemption. In time, she begins to understand that even the man who raped her suffers under a wound so terrible that he does not know how to touch a woman with love, only hate. His pain does not excuse him, but surely, a man who rapes a woman must be carrying around a great many wounds, and are these wounds not our concern, just as much as are the wounds of the violated woman?
Anger fades to grief as she realizes that the problems facing feminists of all ages, and especially now, are the problems facing men and women and children everywhere. We can no longer speak truth in anger, and division no longer empowers. This woman craves healing for herself and her lovers, knowing that true empowerment can only come in its entirety, neither male nor female, but utterly and profoundly human. I envision just such a moment of healing as a woman reaching orgasm as her lover climaxes within her, both vulnerable and both utterly alive and in communion with one another. Sexuality, though it has been used as a weapon, can, and should be used as an incredible tool for self knowledge and healing. Out of my orgasms and ever growing sexuality rise much of my questions about feminism and my passion to pursue them.
*Dumuzi is the consort of the Sumerian goddess, Inanna.