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May 26, 2009

Bodies and Babies

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 10:50 pm

There I sat, listening to a pretty young white woman with a cute stroller’d baby and a well-groomed older lady with salon red hair gooing and gurgling together about how the lady’s little granddaughters just loved getting their nails done…

When it hit me.

One of the biggest reasons I’ve always been so uncomfortable with the idea of having children is not political, logistical or relational. It’s that motherhood in general, and childbearing in particular, seem super femme. I’ve felt this for a long time, although I’d never articulated it like that until now…

See, I don’t have hardcore childfree politics. I do think making babies is politically problematic and something that should be thought about very carefully, but so are a LOT of things. I’m still glad my parents had me (blah blah blah) and my brother. Some of my closest friends are having a baby in a few weeks. I’m thrilled for them and can’t wait to meet him. I’m really glad my friend A had her daughter, who is now almost three – and, yes in fact, is The Cutest Thing On The Planet.

And I don’t have anything against kids personally. Babies…I don’t know about. I don’t really get how they operate – although I’d be down to learn, mostly because the great thing about infants is that they turn into kids with a quickness. But kids are great. They intimidate the hell out of me sometimes (so do grown-ups), but man, if you are between the ages of about 2 – 20 and you want to hang out with me, you have my undivided attention. There are lots of interesting adults out there, but there are lots of boring ones too. I have never met a boring kid. Kids are amazing. I really want there to be kids in my life, in my family, in my home.

I just don’t know if I want them to be mine. The idea of being a Mom wigs me the fuck out. Not just because I don’t want to be my Mom – but because I can’t imagine “Mother” being part of my identity. It just…Ugh! Gah! What?! No! What??! But here’s the funny thing: …I think I’d be a pretty good Dad. And I think I’d be down with Dadhood. I realized this years ago. Then I decided that was ludicrous; that I was just essentializing gendered parental norms; that all being a “mother” meant was being a female-gendered parent and that “father” was simply shorthand for “parental figure with male gender identity” – and that if I couldn’t cope with parenting in the way I saw fit and calling that “being a mom”, I should just forget about it. And, basically, I forgot about it.

Here’s the other thing: The pregnancy thing. Pregnancy terrifies me. Not because it’s supposed to be one of the most painful and uncomfortable things any human can undergo. I don’t seek pain out, but I’m not afraid of it. Physical pain is temporary. Pain is never a good enough excuse not to do something that would be worth doing otherwise. No, it terrifies me because…I love my body. But it has been a long, hard, continuous process to love my body as it is – as a short, tough, solid, buxom, resilient, round-bellied, square-jawed, squat, thick-thighed, poised, present, butch woman’s body. The thought of that body suddenly being transmuted into a pregnant body – the symbolic epitome of all things traditionally tagged female, feminine and femme – just. feels. so. completely. dysphoric.

Like, if wearing a skirt makes me feel this weird, carrying a baby is going to break my brain into a thousand pieces.

Don’t get me wrong. I like getting into femme drag once in a while. It’s hot to play dress-up and flirt.

Hell, I own these ridiculous things:

But it’s not me.

This is me:

That’s not, I’m told, the kind of body that raises babies, much less makes them.

It’s not true, though. Right? Butchness and motherhood are not inherently incompatible. Not any more than butchness and bisexuality. There are definitely butch women out there who are enjoying raising children and probably doing a damn fine job of it. We just don’t get to see many models of butch moms in magazines. Not nearly as many as we see “glowing” girls with sparkly eyes and pretty hair cooing over their little sweetumses…

But there are plenty of feminine-gendered and femme-associated things that can be done in a butch way. Hell, the only reason I even ran into these first-paragraph ladies is that they were in the nail salon where I was getting a pedicure. Just buff and trim. No polish. Inside my beat-up Doc Martens, my feet feel great now. And I still have no idea what to do about babies.

This doesn’t mean I want to have kids. There are still a lot of reasons – political, logistical, relational and personal – not to have them. Plus, just because it’s probably possible to get over the more perniciously gendered aspects of parenthood, that doesn’t mean it would be easy or the right battle for me to choose. But it does mean that, maybe, if I did ultimately decide to have children…that wouldn’t necessarily mean forcibly turning myself into something I’m not.

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1 Comment »

  1. Have you seen the blog http://butchesandbabies.com?

    Comment by Neb — December 17, 2014 @ 3:01 am | Reply


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