I see your mouth beginning to form the words, readying to trot out utter garbage.
Don’t do it.
Tell me to celebrate being a woman on a measly day eked out for my ilk and I’ll ask you why. How do I make joyful noises about being female in a world where my gender is relentlessly at the receiving end of systemic hatred? When our heads are constantly dunked and held under water, only to be permitted half a breath before being choked again, but look, you did get that teeny window to inhale! To which you’ll look exasperated and say “But nobody is doing it to you!” And I will begin to enumerate:
1. The number of times my body was touched without my permission, how the semen stain on my school skirt remains as dark as ever, how pain feels as a 14-year-old when there’s a thrust, a gasp, and then he flees the overflowing bus.
2. The number of times my daylight hours and nighttime hours and spaces to just be were policed: by those who birthed me, by a system meant to educate, no no, you are a girl, bloomer check! We’re going to lift your skirt to ensure your modesty lives in granny knickers.
3. The number of times I have heard “nobody wants a girl who…”, “nobody marries a woman who….”, 5 kilos less and you’d be perfect, one cup size larger, you can wear any color, lucky-lucky, your hands are so soft, your boyfriend will love them, don’t ever cut your hair or I’ll be sad.
4. The number of times “good” girls don’t sit this way, don’t wear shorts outside PE class, because the men, oh the men, the men! All males, absolute strangers included, are given shares to my anatomy, only I’m not invited to the feast.
Until I want to stitch your mouth shut without anesthesia and scream TROPES!!!
TROPES, TROPES, TROPES!
You’ve drowned in your paltry puddle and think you’re in St. Tropez, every utterance further plasters you to your pigeon poop ridden cubby, how does it feel inside that cage you’ve built, do the bars come out at night to play?
Rapes and moral policing. “Just jokes” and unoffered opportunities. Wage gaps and a permanent seat to butt and breasts on the buffet, let’s not serve brain today, rather pointless wouldn’t you say?
Not a chance in hell at life, and if lucky, then an education is all too much good fortune.
I’m a ‘happy California mum’, I was told in summary, a catch-up call that ended in a pert label, even as my vocal chords shut down in outrage.
No women are free until all women are free, I scream at you in my fantasy. While you suck on patriarchy like a lozenge and I pause to watch you choke. While you make plans to shop sales and celebrate having internal plumbing and paint your nails as the platitudes dry.
Happy Women’s Day, you say, expecting a smile in return. I smile, as I smile for many senseless things and inane people, and quietly wish you sight. And maybe someday, if it happens to be in stock that season, even a modest serving of sense.
Happy Hallmark-dictated-skyrocketing-sales-great-for-the-economy Day.
Because my Mother’s Day is October 27th, the day I celebrate the something elseness that is the lady who birthed me and taught me to be sensible, cautious, forward-thinking, hygienic, feminist, organized, articulate, logical, and unable to stand by and just watch life happen—in her own image.
If we want to celebrate a generic Mother’s Day, on the other hand, I would need to include a hell lot more people who nurtured and mothered me–an aunt with a soul connection, another who is my confession padre, my grandmothers, both biological and adopted, my best friend and rock, and an erstwhile boyfriend, who despite being a clueless 20-something himself, could teach every woman who’s ever pushed a human out of her a thing or two about unconditional love.
If our mothers are indeed so special, how come we bunch them up, assign them one universal day filled with hoopla, bells, and whistles, and move on before the overpriced flowers have wilted? Of course they’ll lap it up. Hell, after chronic sleep deprivation, poopy diapers that even they can’t claim smell like roses, and the sheer relentlessness of attending to needs for twenty plus years of the human life span, they’ll lap up far less pleasantness with a bring-it-on gratitude. But are we really being fair to them, with this tacky song and dance affair? Or is it easier to just swipe that credit card, fall in line, and wholeheartedly buy into a greeting card company’s idea of banging profits?
To the mother who taught me to think: I love you every day. But on October 27th, I will celebrate you. Because you’re MY mother, not just A mother. And because you’re smart enough to recognize the difference.
Edited to add: Here’s a mother of multiples, sharing her point of view:
Because you see, while you’re busy ideating, communicating, spinning sentences into webs of understanding and outreach, the chores don’t go away. So there you are, your wonderful self, doing all these things like researching black feminist thought, organizing resistance movements, investigating the origins of Women of Color, documenting the oral history of the Partition, speaking as a panelist, constructing a sphere of influence around your persona, learning, teaching, sharing, writing, and still, the piles of laundry are unmoved. With the patience of stoics, they wait, to be washed, dried, folded, ironed, closeted away; and the dishes sit heavy in the washer, parked until removed and stashed away; and there’s no telling your bed linen to get a move on and do a DIY job, because it needs your keyboard-focused fingers to fold the shams and fluff the pillows, and crumbs are spilled and countertops splashed and the business of getting dirty-clean-dirty spins in endless cycles every day.
Your plants beg for a drink. Your carpet dreams of a dalliance with the dustbuster. Your car could do with a nice soapy scrub. They don’t care who you are, or what you do, they’re not cleaning themselves up, or putting themselves away, and will outstare and outsit you in every possible battle of wills until you finally relent and tackle them darn chores. For all your fabulousness, and even if you divide and conquer, there’s always that laundry list of things to do around the house that keeps you grounded, with the possible aim of marinating your ego in some well-deserved mediocrity. Amplify that times a thousand, and enter children. But we won’t even go there for now.
Hausfrauness: dripping dullness into the scintillating everyday, one reincarnated house chore at a time.