How I Became a Doula, pt. 2
October 15, 2010 Leave a comment
Part 2: I say sexism is my mother’s problem
Next preface: I’m a little groggy when it comes to feminism. Until I was 24, I was of the “I’m not a feminist, but…” variation. In general, I thought the term was overblown, and no longer necessary. Gender equality seemed present enough. I enjoyed challenging ideas of femininity, but it didn’t seem political. I was pro-choice, but didn’t really think about it. I was pro-woman, but didn’t really think about it. I assumed that sexism was part of my mother’s generation, and that the world was a fair place for a lady. I thought feminists were interesting, but over-involved, and generally a distant clan akin to vegans and the dreadheaded students at my college that skateboarded and wore Birkenstocks–not exactly uncool, but an enclave of their own. I never took a women’s studies course, and imagined the classes to be a room full of women making complaints. I had an English professor that mentioned that hysterectomies were over-prescribed, and I was shocked by it, and mostly shocked that she was lecturing about something that had nothing to do with Jane Austen. She also told us she had her baby at home. I made her a role model because she was so smart, strong, and she had a couch in her office, and played classical music, and was something I had never quite considered before.
The next year, I interviewed her midwife for a writing class project where we had to research a profession. I looked through the midwife’s photo books in her waiting room, picture after picture of naked women, tired and happy people, t-shirts, blood, placentas, babies and vaginas. The calmness of that office, it warm wood floors, the smell of lavender, didn’t do much to keep me from flashing back to high school biology class, watching a two minute video of a baby being born. My reaction was the same to the photo-book: I am not freaked out and; this is all very disturbing.
Life after prefaces: I leave college. I drink a lot, and hang out with a group of boys where every time I mention the word misogyny they ask me if I just learned the word in Women’s Studies 101. We get in arguments about Toni Morrison and the expansion of the cannon. My brain kind of goes numb for a few years, fully interested in the details of a physical life that it was sharpened to ignore while in college. And, I adapt to the great letdown of adulthood: nobody is watching.
For a review of my failed activism, see Part 1
Onwards, to Part 3!