This is my post in acceptance of the #FeministBookChallenge to write a blog post with this phrase in its title. So @BraveandReckless and also due to another offical letter addressed to me starting “Dear Sir” I’m shouting it out once again. I’m a human and have no intention of calling myself a man never have so ain’t I a woman?
When homeless it’s hard to maintain your humanity let alone keep your femininity. I can think of many circumstances where being openly feminine is dangerous. But saying that what do I mean by feminine? Have I just fallen into that very old cultural trap of weak, needy, delicate womanhood that flys in the face of my heros, Ada Lovelace, Rosa Parks, Queen Boudicca and Mary Seacole. Nobody could call any of these ladies weak, needy or delicate I’m sure to the Romans Queen Boudicca killed she was anything but weak, delicate or needy (they might of thought she needed killing but….) ain’t they all women?
So let’s try to work out why someone with such kick-arse heros/role models automatically thinks women are weak, delicate and needy wearing frilly skirts or trousers with patheticly small and impractical pockets in them. It doesn’t make any sense it seems I must be suffering from someone else’s mental illness. Perhaps those drapetomanic slave owners are responsible? It’s a hypothesis.
A Trip Back in Time
Back in middle ages England women only existed as the property of a man, fast forwarding to 19th century medical science had discovered that women had a very specific medical problem which produced unchecked rampent emotions known as hysteria. Hysteria was caused by the person’s womb travelling around their body causing the emotional havoc. (No drapetomania here that I can’t see). Laws were created which amongst other things helped contain these travelling wombs. The laws related to lunacy. Lunacy means being in the state or quality (acy) of the moon (luna). Why would a human be like the moon? The moon is ever changing in the way we view it once every month we can’t see the moon at all, then 2 weeks later it shines so brightly in the night sky even clouds can’t hide it’s brilliance. Could it be something to do with a women’s womb, the law did deal with hysteria after all.
Then fast forward a few more years and you have these moon people laws locking up unmarried mothers for having children. How can a person be a mother without a child, did these laws think it was being a mother that is dangerous or was it not being married (and the property of a man) that was dangerous.
Strange stuff women who are like the moon. Women only existing as property of men. Women being locked up for being mothers. Surely being a mum isn’t dangerous? And how does this relate to Queen Boudicca and her tenancy to kill Roman soldiers whilst leading an army. Ain’t they all Women!
I’m even more confused than before about what being a woman means now and who put the delicate weak, needy, delicate image in frilly dresses came from. It doesn’t seem like my creation. Because I think of my mum and listen to others talk about there mothers. The images that come are varied but there are strong themes of protector, care giver, the person you do not cross, the person who provides amazing food, gives out hugs, sees off the bullies. The mother figure is scarily strong and makes you glad that she was on your side (although there are quite a few people, myself included, who tell with fear of how they’re mums failed to protect even attacking them). The mother figure is the one in control, the one who holds the family unit together, the one who even dad obeys. The mother figure is given respect without ever asking for it. The mother figure is in no way delicate, weak or needy. Ain’t she a woman!!!
Turning toward nature also fails to give the examples of weak, delicate and needy that I automatically associated with being female. So let’s turn our eyes to the streets. The other women on the street are tough cookies holding our own in a very harsh masculine environment, more capable than most of the men. Far more capable in some cases. Weak just doesn’t factor in the homeless world weak gets you killed, raped, owned. Needy? Well no more than the men in fact its usually men pushing to the front of the queue for food and clothing who are the needy ones there! Delicate? Get a grip! Resourceful, tough, capable there’s no space for delicate when your homeless. So where does this stereotype of weakness come from? It’s not from any women I can think of or have met. No slave owners with drapetomania about is there!
But the title of this blog post is about me and unfortunately I’m no longer sure if I count as a woman because 5 years ago a man in a powerful position said I could be free to live my own independent life BUT I would have to sacfice my right to have kids. He wanted my ovaries. I was told it was the only way, told I had no choice. In 2017 I found out he had lied to me and my GP. Lies and consent don’t exist in the same decision.
Queen Boudicca got extremely angry when consent was taken from one of her family members. The Romans felt the full force of her controlled anger they were scared. I control my anger now and the slave owners are scared.