Sitting Frogs: My unequal femininity

Every now and then I have a ‘smash-the-phone-in-the-wall’ moment.

I like my Smartphone.

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It’s a Blackberry curve 4, I think or 5. It may not be as up to date as an iPhone (frankly I don’t get what the hype is all about), but it allows me to indulge in my obsessive streak by offering me information in the form of Google at my finger tips. If it could not make calls, I would still be very happy with my phone. The browser on my phone is the most used app. 🙂

A thought, idea or theory pops in my head and I’m off googling it, looking for confirmation or supportive evidence. This blog is based largely on stray thoughts that have presented themselves to my brain that just won’t quit, grokked by my soul [Read: Your soul DOES whisper] and ultimately backed up by Google. The process is not scientific to say the least, but what I’m looking for isn’t something calculated by the head or probed by the ‘experts’…. just a glimmer as to whether or not there is another human being out there who has shared my musings..

Anyway…

Phone smashing moments..

Occasionally, I happen upon some universe-tilting evidence that knocks the air out of me, leaves me that much wiser but sadder because of its nature. One such moment was when I discovered via an Internet article, that there is a long list of mental health issues that result from spiritual abuse. I had already suspected this, but the confirmation made me so angry, I had the immediate urge to slam my phone to bits in fury! I had been experiencing severe symptoms without even knowing it. I had a similar experience when I read the list of sexual abuse adult symptoms. [Read BPD and Sexual Abuse.]

My latest phone smashing moment is: When I read an article online explaining how the risk/severity of PMDD (Premenstrual dysphoric disorder) increases with each ‘hormonal event’ in a woman’s life. Hormonal events include: menarche, birth control (hormonal forms such as the pill, injection, etc.), pregnancy, miscarriage, childbirth and menopause.

The words blurred and my entire physical being struggled against the emotional urge to hurl my phone into the nearest solid object in outrage!! My rational mind (along with visualizations of the $30k receipt) overcame the urge and I sat shivering, still visibly upset.  A whirlwind of thoughts swam around in my mind. None of them could find any footing to logically express themselves so they died down. By the time I located Notepad Memo on my phone, most curse epithets had been filtered from the expressed idea. Whew! I’ve resisted cursing on WordPress so far and I hope to continue in the spirit of self control.

It was like I was thoughtlessly going along with my narrow culture (as usual), and suddenly had an epiphany of choice and equality and what they really meant and I think it is perfectly conveyed in the picture below.

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As a black woman, I am heavily aware of racism. I was taught the slavery history in school, went through the shock, anger, bitterness then acceptance that; ignorance can cause great disasters and so can greed. As I got older, and freer to form my own opinions, I have filled up the chip on my dark shoulder, accepted it as history.. a history that has shaped prejudices that still exist, but a history nevertheless. All that remains in my opinion is to gently teach those who are still bound by traditional thought and ‘un-enlightenment’, that hey, I am in no way inferior to others because of my skin tone. That was something however, that I had to first believe and act upon as an individual.

Ever get the feeling that life is a bag of insecurities firmly implanted in one way or another and the journey is about stripping off the labels that make us feel inferior? Just wondering…hmm. But on this journey there are some who instead of stripping decide to point out characters of others in order to make themselves feel superior. The ultimate goal being a sense of value – feeling “good enough”

Anyway, after my struggle with absorbing the black and white (and all other shades in between), I came across another perceived issue:

I am female.

Somehow this presented itself as another chip to become acquainted with and to absorb and process *sigh*

My dad owns a supermarket, a branch of which I currently assist my sister in managing. I asked him one day ‘Daddy, why are male employees seen as more valuable than female employees?’ Without skipping a beat, his first response was: Because men can’t get pregnant. They never require maternity leave or time to bond with a newborn etc.  After that he mentioned physical capabilities, menstrual limitations at the time of the month and other gender specific biological quirks. I had accepted this, like a sitting frog. I accepted my inferior sex based on his logical answer at the time. I couldn’t argue with it.

Then I went to church and because this wonderful place had accepted me, forgiven me and showered me with love (little did I know it was conditional – love bombing), I in turn accepted without question everything they said. I submitted to my husband, I tried not to question authority in the church, which was all male.

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Othneil @ a couple of weeks old 🙂

After being a sitting frog for almost 28 years, I finally felt the heat. The full flame of what it means to be female finally hit me square between the eyes. My maiden name is my father’s last name. When I got married, I took on my husband’s name and I have come to understand that even when the divorce is final, I will retain that name unless I can fork up an unspeakable amount of money. (Kinda like the slave who dons the massa’s Plantation name). Since birth, I have experienced the excruciating pain of menses and the trauma of losing life fluid every month – not to mention the chaotic hormones (which I never asked for, mind you). Then I got pregnant. Happiness! – only no one tells you that it is so disgustingly dangerous in a developing country, even in these modern times. A Public Health course exposed me to  figures and charts of Maternal Mortality in Jamaica and trust me, we are still far behind international standards. No one tells u about the possibility of postpartum depression or that having a child contributes to higher risk of PMDD. Now, I love Othneil with all my heart. Would I have done anything differently? No! Well, maybe I would have tried to have him delivered in a first world country. In short, I was not adequately prepared for my birth experience.

The dangers of having a child are not borne equally by both sexes.

Since a man can never know what it feels like to have a womb or the biological necessities and hormonal packages that come along with owning one, he has no right to determine a woman’s reproductive activities or birth control choices.

We have fought for centuries for equal rights and opportunities. But I do not think women are equal to men. The capabilities with which we are born with are beyond miraculous. I do not think that a human who can carry, nurture and bring forth life should be considered less than a male employee because she requires time to carry out said duties.

I do not think menstruation is dirty (I do not care how many versions of the bible says it). Without menstruation, none of the ignorant bigoted ancient fools who penned the book would have been born. I do not think women are weaker than men. A bb contact had up as his status: ‘Never trust anything that bleeds for five days and does not die’. It took a great amount of DBT skills not to respond to him….It took the whole manual to find skill not to respond. We have the abusive man who makes a woman cry, blames her for being too emotional, forgetting that anger is also an emotion. We have people like my dad who forget the sacrifices his own mother made to provide the education that has placed him as proprietor of that business today.

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And who on earth put a bunch of men in charge of policies that decide what happens in a woman’s body? That one is a no-brainer, really.

Women are no way lesser than men, yet our history has shown that we have been perceived that way. Not only as lesser but also blamed for all the evils of the world. The derogatory name for our genitals is used as the highest form of insult anyone could receive. Even when insulting a man, the female gender are somehow the focal point: ‘Son of a bitch!’ Why has this become ok? How did we become sitting frogs in this bubbling heat, accepting the way things are and not recognizing that something is way off here. Every human being came from a woman, yet women are treated as inferior and in many places in the world still seen as a liability. When we do take things (our hormonal/reproductive activities) into our own hands, we are called witches and burnt at the stake for having the audacity to decide what happens in our own bodies.

For the record, I am not a feminist, neither do I hate men or women. I love myself very much. I love my body’s curves and its feminine features. I have always however been an equalist! Until, my latest smash phone moment when I realized that equality is not enough. It is like asking everyone to pay the same price and same taxes despite the income earned. Or giving everyone same amount of tanning time in the machine even though they all have different skin tones.. That is equality, but it doesn’t seem fair does it – neither does it make much sense? Justice, however implies that the unique features and limitation as well as capabilities be taken into consideration for every human being.

The unique capabilities of women are unending, not just biologically but in every way. Women and men are not equal. Neither is superior to the other. We are too different. But if I could hazard a guess, I would say the gender that has the hefty portion of the reproduction responsibilities… just kidding, just kidding. Back off men!! 😀

However, prejudice and discrimination  against women due to our reproductive capabilities is like a species shooting itself in the foot. I jumped out of the boiling pot, deciding to no longer be a sitting frog; I am in no way inferior to any man.

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