By: Liberate Zealot
Sometimes it is difficult for me to reconcile my feminist identity with that of me as a part of my family. Other times it's it nearly impossible to reconcile my upbringing with that of a woman (in the United States).
No matter the aspect of myself, or my actions and beliefs, there seems to be an incongruence. This touches every part of my life, but for most it is the idea that my identity as a person is not completely recognized, within society or even my family.
I imagine this is a recognition many people experience. Those of us who are in some way outside, be it because we're queer, or people of color, or disabled, and non-Christian or women. And rebelling against the established norms only exacerbates our lack or personhood and belonging.
So often society/politics/my family makes me feel incomplete. A not fully actualized version of a person. And oddly enough it is my upbringing that makes me able to recognize this incongruence.
I was brought up to be opinionated; and confident in my voice and experience and opinions. I was brought up to see myself as a being of worth, as a full and independent entity. And yet, as I age, that full and independent worth and identity is stripped from me.
Once upon a time I saw myself with children, even if I never had a partner. But as I've left my upper middle class upbringing, and as political and social spheres has turned more pro-fetus and anti-woman, I've experienced a great change in that regard. Now I know I'll never be willingly pregnant or a mother. And when I expressed that to my (mainly feminist) parents the question wasn't centered around what had made me change my mind, but what my male partner thought of this. As if my decisions about my body and life were incomplete without a man's opinion.
And I have a brother who goes to pro-life marches and studies to become a priest in the Catholic Church. And I have so many other family members who seeks to do right and help others but cannot conceive an existence of worth without it being one in line with their own views and beliefs.
And these views and beliefs are the ones that say I should be incomplete without offering up my body and life to motherhood. That my male partner is the primary actor in our partnership. That to be a true women I must be a mother. And that to be a mother I must sacrifice all for my children. And that my body, mind, and desires are secondary to that.
And so many of them cannot understand my virulent objection of these ideas.
They cannot understand that my primary objective to motherhood is that of being unwilling to sacrifice my personhood. Instead they convince themselves that it is about a lack of love and understanding of children (despite my decade of work with children).
I cannot conceive of being pregnant in a country where so many people prize the life and humanity of a pregnant person as secondary to the fetus they willingly (or unwillingly) carry. And that this is a devaluation of humanity that only effects pregnant people. No one else is expected to sacrifice their organs or living conditions for another person.
And I cannot conceive of being a parent, a mother, in a world that devalues mothers. Where father's are praised where mothers in the same situations are hated and mocked. Where women are hated for being working mothers, or for needing more than motherhood to experience a complete life.
I am a person, a human, first and foremost. And many aspects of my identity means that society seeks to take that personhood away from me. And I cannot imagine willingly ceding more of my personhood.
Some people must give up parts of their personhood to live the lives they want, and I cannot blame them for such. Certainly I have done the same in different areas. Some do not see these identities or lives as a ceding of their personhood. Some glory in the chance of rebellion.
All of these lives and choices have worth. And I hope, with all my heart, that they are centered around a freely made choice.
I just wish society recognized the choices of women. And saw us as full humans worthy and capable of making choices about our own lives.