I started using the self-descriptive term “feminist” about five years ago and although my life’s work to create a better world extends much longer than those five years, the lens of feminism – my feminisms, to be precise – has positively enhanced the way I experience and percieve the mystery of socialization and gender.
Tomorrow, I have my 20 week ultrasound. Before pregnancy, I didn’t know that 20 weeks is a milestone. Usually with prenatal care, an “anatomical” ultrasound is done, which means Adonis and I get to see the baby growing in my uterus. We see the face, ears, feet, hands…everything…including its genitalia.
Many things have surprised me about pregnancy, but none moreso than the impact of hormones in my body. My memory has been underwater, my moods sometimes swingy, but my emotions have been fairly calm. I’ve felt peaceful. One of the few pieces of anxiety I’ve been experiencing relates to gender and finding out the sex of the baby.
I’ve been pretty open about my feelings concerning my pregnancy through my letters to Veronica, my unborn daughter, which I started a long time ago…well before I was pregnant. And one of my fears is not just having a child, it’s about having a son. I think that my fear dwells in my uncertainty if I can teach a child and have a larger impact than the rest of the world. All the lessons this child will learn will have to be undone at some level. It begins tomorrow. It begins the moment the ultrasound technician will say “boy” or “girl.”
And the barrage of texts, emails, FB messages, and comments wanting to know will begin. Along with the pink and blue bull that I don’t believe in.
Facing the reality that I am carrying life within me has meant coming to the reality that I am deeply responsible for the wonder and destruction this child shall bear on the world once it enters this life and takes its first breath.
I am faced with the reality that the men who rape women once had mothers too and I wonder what they learned (or didn’t) about loving and treating women, both in personal relationships and strangers. I think about the way teenage boys careen by the waterfountain at school and mock the budding bodies of womanhood and adolescence out of their own insecurity. I am, essentially, afraid of what boys because, after working with violated women and children, I know what they are capable of.
I don’t want to raise a son contributing to another woman’s disempowerment.
But feminism has also taught me that not only are men capable, and actually prefer, to be loving, active, energetic leaders for goodness and wholeness, it’s also taught me that women are not grouped together in their fight for equality. The bullying, the cut throat competition, the hidden jealousy, the betrayal…raising a daughter now terrifies me just as much as raising a son. After I’ve work with violated women and children, I’m afraid I’ll raise a daughter who doesn’t care about her worth and values her sexuality only at the price set by society and media.
Whether son or daughter, I’m afraid she’ll give up on herself.
I’m afraid, quite simply, they won’t care about the world they way I do and I won’t be able to stand their selfishness.
I’m afraid that when they ask me questions about what I’ve done to make the world better, I’ll look in the mirror and only see a half-worn human and full blown coward.
Somehow, in the years I’ve contemplated and studied gender and advocated that all persons are equal, I’m petrified I’ll find that I’ve only kidding myself because I know the world can and will knock me on my butt with its cruel, streamlined, flick of the wrist power to teach domination, selfishness, individualism, and greed.
Knowing this child’s gender makes it all real, too real, because once I know “boy” or “girl,” I’ll inherit an entire set of specific strategies the world has planned to brainwash my kid. I don’t have anything except what I *think* I know, a lot of guessing, intuition, and a loving partner.
I hope those seeds are enough.
Will they know how to love, truly love themselves and another human being?
Do they know the world is not fragmented and we, all of us, are inexplicably connected?
Does having this much fear dictate what kind of mother I will be?
Who will be there to save me when I’m the one in trouble?
In some funny way, I want this child to forever remain as it is right now – perfect, growing, dependant on nothing but amniotic fluid, oxygen, and my voice. Not only do I fear about this child hurting, but I’m afraid of the harm the child will be capable of doing as well.
Tomorrow I will know if I am having a son or daughter.