Friday, January 9, 2009

The Other Half Of The Choice

For the sake of full disclosure this post originated in a conversation I had with the ever brilliant Octagalore.

I believe that there are very few feminists that don't identify as pro-choice.  Feminism is about asserting that right of women to choose and empowering these decision and therefore the right to control ones fertility is of paramount importance.  Much of our organizing energy goes towards ensuring that women have access to safe reproductive health choices.  We raise awareness around birth control and abortion but seldom do we speak in depth about the other choice. 

A woman can choose in some cases to have an abortion and she can also choose to become a mother.  Motherhood is something we approach only in the most abstract forms and yet for many women,(myself included) motherhood is a significant part of our identity.  I actively chose to become a mother twice.  When we speak about a womans right to choose, it is quite often from the perspective of choosing not to become a mother.  While the right to have an abortion is definitely important, so is becoming a mother.

Where are the spaces in which we discuss this choice actively and the changes and sacrifices that it entails? Where are the places that we openly celebrate the joy the comes with bringing a new life into this world?  Destruction and Mayhem are the love of my life, and yet in most feminist spaces it feels as though this love no matter how great, can only be conceptualized in the ways it which creates poverty, or stress.  Where are the places that we talk about the laughter that we share with our children, or the moments when they make you so proud that your chest positively swells.

When Destruction gave his Christmas money away this year and made gifts for everyone instead of buying something it filled me with the greatest pride.  He was embarrassed at first to only have a drawing for me, but to me it was an absolute work of art that brought tears to my eyes.  Other than in this space that I have created there is no room to speak of the everyday small triumphs that come from sharing your life with a child.

I understand that there are politics at play and that we cannot let down our guard for a moment when it comes to reproductive health, but must this come at the cost of celebrating the other half of the equation?  Must we continually theorize motherhood as some kind of drudgery that women need to escape from, or that binds us to our biology?  For some of us this active choice is part of what makes us whole.  For some of us motherhood can be the greatest inspiration of our lives.

On Fridays when we are doing our chicken dance to celebrate making it through another week as a family and my home is filled with laughter, I know that my struggles and the stress involved have brought me to this moment, the moment when I get to know absolute peace of mind with those that are dearest to me. To see them smile, or to hear their laughter is to know a joy that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.  I have always said that the best view in the world is standing on my front porch looking into my home with the sure knowledge that everyone I love most is inside. 

Feminism needs to find a space to celebrate the active choices that we make as women.  It has become so politicized that it has forgotten that women are human beings with emotions.  We politicize, and theorize, and consciousness raise, but when do we connect with each other in real and concrete ways?  Where is the tactility to our feminism?  It has become just as disconnected as every other aspect of society.

We instant message and twit instead of calling each other.  We e-mail tiny little missives instead of dropping by for tea.  We speak about interconnectedness but in truth we are more separated from human touch than we have ever been.  This cold detachment has seeped into the feminism that I love and has caused us to loose our connections with each other.  When I think of feminism, I think of a movement that is not only committed to securing our rights, but a movement that is committed to celebrating the life's experiences of all women.  I think of a movement that is committed to ensuring that there is a real lasting connection between us.  Sisterhood can only take us so far; however we should not discount its value, and our connections as path to understanding each other.

It is in the name of these connections that I am determined to have the conversations that no one else is having.  How can we value each other if we cannot relate to one another about the simple pleasures in life.  How can we learn to ignore difference, when we cannot examine the commonalities that we share as women? Even in our struggles there are triumphs and at some moment we need tp see these times as opportunities to increase our connections to each other.

I am not a utopian.  I understand that daily life as a woman is hard.  Each day I have my struggles and my worries, but I know that each day that I continue to draw breathe, I have won a victory against those who believe I don't have a right to exist. Womanhood is a beautiful and precious thing and each day that we do not celebrate the absolute wonder that we are, we cheapen and devalue ourselves.  I think that if we could learn to celebrate our active choices we would suffer from less internalized hatred.  If we refused as women to allow others to define for us what is important and what is of value, we could truly have a sense of agency and value that the world is denying us.

My choices are simple ones.  I choose to see the goodness in people.  I choose to love and honour my family.  I choose to acknowledge my unearned privileges in this life, but most of all I choose to love me.


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