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"When one experiences truth, the madness of finding faults with others disappears" - S.N. Goenka.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Feminine Spring: Birth of a New Woman

Almost three hours of pushing had my body trembling with exhaustion.  Finding the strength for one more excruciating effort was simply beyond my reach.  The nurse, smelling of ammonia and spent perfume, held my hand while my husband stood on the sidelines cheering, “You Can Do This!” Tears swelled my eyes and fell down the side of my face, I screamed through clenched teeth, “I can’t! It’s too hard and I’m just too tired!”  The drear of the hospital room felt cold but the fire within me kept my body drenched with sweat.  Voices in the far distance were muffled by the dense, heavy sounds of my labor.  If escape from myself were possible, I would have taken off running. But the brief silence before the next push helped reclaim my sanity.   It was then that something cracked open inside of me, not unlike a watermelon, refreshing and soothing and sweet.  Graced with a calming stillness my daughter who stirred within me connected.  “There’s nothing to fight,” said the unheard voice, “it’s not a battle.” 

Its been said that in the hours before an earthquake the winds steady to a hot breath, the clouds lay low and the birds fall silent. The power of nature, quite sure of its own strength, will announce itself with barely a whisper.  Diving to the depth of myself, I salvaged my last bit of inner strength and transformed it into a tsunami.   Only recognizable from within, my baby was the first to know.  Instantly we began working together, in our final moments as one – simultaneously moving with the rhythm of life.  My last push was visceral, permeating from someplace I never before felt; it was as if my daughter used my power to fuel her own and together we made it to the other side.

There are defining moments in life when everything changes, when we suddenly become different than we were the second before.   A brief instant when time ceases to exist and we’re suddenly suspended somewhere between what was and what will become.  In that timeless space we see ourselves completely exposed and raw, simultaneously staring at inner feelings of omnipotence and insignificance. Two contradicting worlds collide and separate as they embrace and release in a liberating dance. 

It was in this frozen space of liberation, I met my daughter for the first time.  Tenderness graced my spirit, my eyes softened and I transcended, moving into an existence that imploded with profound meaning.  Feelings of euphoria flushed my senses, shedding the person I had just left behind.  Self-centered, my ego knew no bounds and all obstacles fell by sheer force and will, never bending to circumstance or trusting in forces larger than myself.  But at that moment everything that mattered was held in my arms. I was humbled with a new authenticity - softer, kinder, and infinitely vulnerable.  Life emerged as something fragile and delicate.  Everyday decisions were no longer routine; existence went beyond myself and although my life held more value as a mother, I’d give it up in an instant to save my child.  In the same breath I hoped for more time. I wanted more years, no longer to accomplish my own dreams and desires but to nurture and watch my children accomplish theirs.  
Seven years of motherhood have passed, and everyday brings humbling new lessons. It is a continuing journey of self-exploration expanding beyond my comfort zone to face issues otherwise ignored or pushed aside. I’m forced to acknowledge, dig deep and explore.  Being reduced to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cubs, knowledge suddenly becomes real power.  Not only do we need to know how to become better parents and individuals, we need to expand our base of awareness to include social and environmental issues, and political injustices.  Matters as close to which foods to avoid, to as global as which toxins are in our environment. Constant self-examination of our own faults to the shielding of our children from hate breeding beliefs in our community, all become part of the child-rearing playing field. Building a generation on principles based on connection, love, and equality form the solid foundation necessary for progression.

Which leads me to the recent debate that has flooded the media – contraception.  When we highlight archaic discussions in modern times, it appears as though we’re taking two steps back as a society. But rather than looking at it as a downfall, maybe there’s a dormant issue at play that needs addressing.   Somehow I find gratitude in distasteful comments like Rush Limbaugh’s because without them we’d continue to be complacent in our thinking – never to challenge our sometimes corrupt and self-limiting belief systems.  The undertone of this discussion is about inequality and man’s relentless need to control women.  
Since the beginning of monotheistic religion, men have been in constant pursuit to oppress women.  By degrading the self-worth of women, men have somehow managed to use women's bodies for their best interest.  The one significant thing men cannot do that women can is bare a child.  Man's insecure, power-driven ego must control even reproduction and women's bodies are means of reproduction. We live in a post-agrarian society where children are no longer just farm labor.  it is time that we understand that there should be more adults than children to properly care for those children!  Consider the places in the world that are most violent, erratic and destructive, they're generally places where there are many more children than adults.

Through centuries of oppression women have come to internalize feelings of inferiority to the point where it becomes perfectly natural to allow a man to dictate our bodily functions.  Almost convincing ourselves we aren't smart enough to make our own choices about what is best for our sexuality, our bodies and our minds. Let's dare teach our daughters their value in society by helping them reclaim their bodies for themselves. Recognizing that their inner strength is more powerful than a society of men who need to oppress in order to feel success.  Helping our daughters gain their self-worth by giving them the tools to rise above the self-limiting comfort zone that has been imposed on them is our duty as mothers.  Let's give them the courage to take back what is rightfully theirs.

My dream is to watch my two little girls mature into confident, self-assured women who can sit in the space between what was and what will be.  My hope is that they recognize the unifying connection that exists - between themselves and the universe and stand in the strength of their own power.  

But strength increases in numbers and together we are powerful beyond mesure.  We have the limitless ability to give birth to a new paradigm: one that celebrates our beauty and treasures it in the highest regard.  Like labor we must sweat and push ourselves to the other side.  Diving into the depth of our womanhood, we can salvage our inner strength by turning it into the power of a thousand tsunamis.  With effort we stand united.  Without the need to wage war we can collectively move forward with the pulsing rhythm of life, transcending a threshold of liberation.


Nightbrngr said...

It seems to me that you are more than correct. Women as a whole have lost confidence in their own worth. I am a man, and I even see it. There is a sad truth though. Women control the world.
The sad part is they control it thru man's quest for sex not their own worth.Almost everything a man does is geared toward sex and the ability to get it. It is a form of primal conquest with us.
Yet even the women who understand this fact do not see their worth beyond that. Not only that but on a whole, we as a people view women as less.
It just is not true. I know women in every walk of life.From those that drive trucks OTR, to prostitutes, to fighters and computer geniuses. There is nothing that can be done by man that cannot be done by women. I have 1 daughter and 1 on the way. By the time she is 10, she will be able to fight for herself against man or woman.I teach her to rely on herself.
That does not mean she can not also use the weapons given to her at birth.I am a man and I know, we as a whole are morons in a lot of ways. Most of us see a woman we consider pretty and lose forty points of IQ. Some primal part taps in and we go 'Duh'.
Sidetracked a bit but my point is that women can and should stand as equals to men.They are no better and no worse. Chivalry is not dead but the coddling is no longer needed.There are women that have run for president,shot off into space, and broken up bar fights...Isn't it time they gained the respect and weight of worth they are due?If not what is the purpose of all the sacrifice given to make them equals in name?
We respect Rosa Parks, and Mother Teresa, as well as many others.It is time to respect them as a whole and as equals.Those that cannot need to think back on the women in their life and ask themselves if those glorious women are weak.

Mi4-Ohio said...

Research shows that girls confidence peaks between age 8 and 12. My guess is the decline is directly related to how they relate to their bodies and how society imposes it's standards upon those bodies. Confidence is something that is practiced. When head and heart are connected with what you stand for then you become like a tree, deeply rooted and adaptable, able to take a strong wind without being knocked down. I have two daughters(6 and 4) and I see that they are far more connected to themselves than I have been the last 15 years. Their arrival revealed my disconnect and it ignited my commitment to become the parent and advocate I longed to be for them. Through my journey I have come to see that the social norms and historical forces (described by Staci Haines and gen5) have far greater influence on my girls development than i do even though I am in their intimate netowrk, that is terrifying. I agree that Rush moments deserve gratitude because it brings social norms to the surface and forces us to examine what we are not only complacent in but also complicit in when it comes to how women are generally portrayed (see Missrepresentation movie). As a collective we choose, through our actions and interactions, between our words and silence to provide a structure that supports the diminishment, disempowerment and oppression of the feminine. The thing is with social norms is that they are practically invisible. Like water is to a fish, it just is. Until we choose to make it something else. But we need to that together.
Great article, keep up the good work

Judy said...

Recently I heard the comment that nations and societies are less violent and less oppressed when women are empowered...either in the areas of self determination or political...Look it up...

rbachelette said...

I am a 26 year old female, raised by a single mother, both of us college educated. She taught me to have a voice and to assert myself in the face of conflict. This sentiment has allowed me overcome oppression throughtout my life. More recently, my boyfriend of a year and a half has struggled greatly to reassure himself of the gender roles in our relationship. He is a philosophy major and almost double majored in feminism studies, and yet he is so torn by the societal pressure to control and dominate because of his gender that he views my ability to be rathional and assertive as manipulative and vicous. We struggle with this notion due to the fact that it is so immensely contradictory to the person he believes himself to be on a concious level. These archaic feelings of dominance and control are so insidious that he himself is unaware of his resentment of me until we sit down and have a rational, calm conversation, which then furthers his feelings of the gender roles be reversed because I am able to communicate with him on a level that he feels is masculine. Does being a woman and being femine mean that I have to scream and cry and be overtly emotional in order for me to fullfill my place in society? To what extent to I as a woman have to live the stereotypical gender role for him to feel secure?
He is also 26 years old, he is highly intelligent and is a person of strong emotion. He cries when he is sad and happy. I love this about him, but I never realized that as a woman men expect us to be more emotional and irrational than they are in order to fullfill our gender roles. If men deisre to control our minds and our bodies to such an extreme what is left to call our own?

Mi4-Ohio said...


Eve Ensler's inner girl Ted Talk is a must see.

As well as her discussion about owner ship of our bodies. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-02-10/eve-ensler-talks-to-lateline/3824446

This conversation is so needed. rbachelette i loved reading your post.

Christine said...

I have been reading far too much on this topic from the church's point of view in an attempt to try to understand both sides of this issue and I am finding so much of it frustrating and disheartening. So I would like to sincerely thank you for this heartfelt and uplifting article. I am a (rather lapsed) Catholic and I am so tired of all the spouting of doctrine insisting that the use of contraception is harmful - to the body, to marriages, to family, & to society - and that we as women should not even want the right to have some control over our fertility. This article has reminded me that I am not crazy and that these types of restrictions would indeed oppress women. Many articles I have seen have suggested just the opposite, that it is birth control that oppresses women and I just can't wrap my head around that. So again, thank you.

Dana said...

I was 34yrs old when I had my one and only child. I made the conscious decision not to have a child until I felt ready to do so. I avoided pregnancy with birth control. I was married at the time of my daughters birth. She was not an unplanned pregnancy. Therefore, I resent remarks that make it appear that the only reason I was taking birth control is because I wanted to have all the unwed sex I wanted without getting knocked up. I had a very hard pregnancy. High risk due to blood pressure and swelling so sever I could only wear flip flops, which was fun considering I had her during the winter. It ended in me having an emergency c-section. Since her birth 5 yrs ago I have suffered severly from fibroid tumors and excessive bleeding. It is now controlled by birth control that has help to shrink the tumors, eliminate my mentrual cycle, and kept me from developing cancer on my uterus that has showed displasia ever since. I have to have a DNC and scope of my uterus every hear to insure that cancer has not developed. I choose not to get pregnant again due to the difficulties I experienced and the possible life threatening difficulties I could experience in the future. My only other option is a hysterectomy which they are trying to avoid as I am under 40yrs old. By the way, that to is a form of birth control, isnt it. Again, I choose. No one chooses for me. It is my life to save and my quality of life to have.

Valerie Vendrame said...

Thank you for all your brilliant responses! I've enjoyed reading them and look forward to reading more. It excites me to know that women everywhere are becoming more enthusiastic about owning their power and their bodies. Handing ourselves over to men has been the norm for far too long - we don't even recognize it when it happens. Thank You for the video Mi4-Ohia - it ended with me in tears! So SPOT on!
But my question is WHY have we for so long suppressed the girl gene? What's the core fear? We're taught to believe that emotions are bad, vulnerability is dangerous, and women are weak. There was a time when women were praised, admired and looked up to. BEFORE monotheistic religion, many of the most powerful gods were labeled female. Does the power of our sexuality strike fear in the hearts of men? So much so that they feel the need to own it? The oppression of women will cause the demise of the human species - to evolve we must reclaim ourselves. IT starts with us, teaching the next generation. We CAN NOT let them fall victim to such reasoning.

Ilona said...

I had my first child as a teen mom when i was 19. After the birth of my son i went on birth control so I could focus on raising my one child and give him everything he deserves. I want more kids one day but in order to properly shape and mold one solid human is so much work and requires serious dedication. Not that i judge people with many children i just respect them. Thank you for the amazing blog.

Susan Sheppard said...

Men do not control women. Women truly have the power in relationship. They just need to own that power. Women are completely capable of accomplishing anything that a man can accomplish. The masculine energy has since the beginning of our world taken issue with that fact. Women have been dominated and controlled by masculine energy since the caveman days.
It is true that men are collectively stronger physically than women. Women however, have great pain tolerance, stamina, and equal brain power. They have physical strength commensurate to their size. The underhanded truth is that women control men in one very powerful way. Women control access to their body and men are very driven by sex. Ultimately this aspect of control that women have determines the viability of the human race.
Without a woman’s permission to touch, caress, or enter her body, man cannot complete the sex act nor procreate himself. A male society would compel extinction without women. This one fact infuriates men so much that they strive to control women in every other possible way. These are primal urges that will persist in all cultures to various degrees.
It is possible for men and women to congenially, lovingly and passionately coexist in a society. That strategy involves appreciation and acknowledgement and gratitude for the differences between men and women by both men and women. Such a society will be better off and synergistically more powerful and accomplished. If only everyone could rid themselves of their preconceived notions about who they are, the world would be a better place.

Cara said...

I just got around to reading this, and once again, you did not disappoint. Brilliant blog, my dear. You are an amazing and talented writer and your girls are so lucky to have such an intelligent, articulate and strong role model! You rock, mama! Xoxo

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