Is to be caught between a rock and many hard places
This essay is depicting an experience of being a woman like ME which is almost entirely personal but to which I have asserted particular generalisations. I would like to note that these generalisations are not meant to be depictive of ALL woman’s experiences. I acknowledge that not all women ache to procreate and that this does not make them any less woman than another. To be a woman is to be creation itself in all its infinite forms. Enjoy.
Perched at the precipice of an era, a first in human experience; to be an educated free woman, is both liberating and like being caught between a rock and many hard unyielding places. On the one hand, we have the ability to seek greater expansive perspectives of the world, enabling us to see patterns of life, from where we have come from to where we are going. At the outset this is an amazing opportunity fo us to develop knowledge and perhaps even wisdom. However, upon this deep inspection the discover more and more about about the big picture, which has this inevitable effect of leaving us feeling hopeless, wretched, full of with self loathing and doubt about our future. With an educated eye it is easy to see, that humanity, aka ‘US’, have created a situation of carnage and consumption. On the way towards this almighty sapien hold up of the world, humans have become dependant upon a certain way of life that feeds the beast. One of the most obvious and powerful components of being a woman is that of being able to bring the new life into the world. This usually exciting prospect, today, is understandably fraught with anxiety for those of us who know and who dare to think about the state of the world and the future of humanity. To bring new life into this world, we accept the fact that we are essentially condemning the greatest loves of our lives to finding their way through this maze of escalating chaos. And yet on the other hand, the ancient biology of a a woman’s body still yearns to to do what it has been literally bleeding to do since the tender age of 11 years…
As with all great dilemmas there are many sides the story. One may easily claim that having a child with the intention of bringing up an educated moral and ethical being is exactly what this world needs! Some may go so far as asserting that one would be selfish not to follow this path. But of course, we only have so much say on how a child will grow into an adult, and there is no guarantee that the little person will want to become an environmental earth warrior, activist or conscientious objector. On top of that, unless strong measures are taken, the sad reality is that our children may be swept up in the roaring frenzy of technological uprising and capitalistic normalcy and join the unconscious masses. And then what? Just another mouth to feed? Am I to sacrifice myself for the possibility that my child will outlive me and go on to serve humanity? And what’s with consciously choosing to bring a new life into in a world that I have endless issues with… environmentally, politically, emotionally….?! A world where the state’s imposition of authority over our autonomy has become acceptable and normal, where the general flow of society is to follow the orders imposed upon them. Where our freedom is conditional upon us being owned in some way shape or form and where war is the way of the future… why would I choose to do that? I have looked after zillions of children and am aunty to so many. I wonder what part of me is grieving to not have them myself, and whether this feeling is more about me fulfilling a role I was supposedly made to fill, as a woman.
Where is the ‘right’ choice inside all of this?
The answers to this heart wrenching dilemma, are truly no where to be found. Choice is in constant flux with the waxing and waning between knowledge and biological callings. It seems we can either accept ourselves as part of a human species, and multiply forth as we have done since the beginning of time, or we can put a stop to this incessant consumption of the earth, by taking a stand in not having a baby and use every second of our own lives to stand up for change on this planet.
Birthing new life has become (or perhaps always was) a double edged sword. On the one hand, modern technology is destroying the next generation’s interpersonal skills and on the other hand, technology allows me the freedom as a single woman, to choose to have a child without a man. But, to devote every waking hour to childcare and financial accumulation for the purposes of maintaining the care of the child, and potentially compromise aspects of my own life, at least to the extent of what I can do with it, seems like a crazy choice down a difficult road without a solid reason - and yet, to argue with the wanting, wishing and resounding will of the womb is based on rationality and doesn’t stand a chance against emotionality of a hormonally charged woman. The truth is there really is no right answer; and this is only the beginning of what it means to be caught between a rock and many hard places!
The issue of being a woman today, and dealing with the above predicament, is steeped in many hundreds of thousands of years of social history, and yet essentially, we have all been learning from the generation directly before us about what is right wrong standard and acceptable. For this reason, unless we are educated, we have very little context to understanding why we think the way we do. For example, born in the 80’s, sex was already an everyday word, and by the 90’s the issue of contraception bombarded our lives from a very young age. Pregnancy was ultimately to be avoided at all costs. We didn’t really ask why, or even when might be a reasonably time for the motherhood ban to be lifted… We ate the daily contraceptive pills we were given and were left to fend for ourselves as we tended to our own sex education. In other words, completely and utterly blind and alone. It came naturally to think that being able to have sex whenever we wanted with whoever we wanted equated ‘sexual liberation’. It so a particular undertone followed, that a woman’s right to be promiscuous was in fact her instating her power over being controlled. And though this might all make some sense, there were other consequences of meeting sexual suppression with the same aggression that man had imposed on women for so many years. Young sexual women suddenly ripe to explore, who had not been taught the sanctity of our bodies or the importance of sensing and knowing our boundaries, collided with a social assertion that being sexually active was analogous to being empowered. And away we went, raring to learn about men, sex, ourselves and life, the hard way. As can be imagined, this combination equated nothing short of disaster for many women. During this time, the internet came to life. Porn became a key player in our education of what was sexy and what was expected of us. We were taught to perform in certain ways instead of listen to the feelings inside our bodies. As a young woman, expectations were imbued with servitude and surrender, whilst men were taught to take without asking, pound without concern for whether the woman being pummelled was actually enjoying it at all. Sadly, he was given very little to no guidance as to women’s sexual nature, and often had absolutely no regard for whether she had reached climax or even been enjoying herself at all. Standard.
What? a woman enjoys sex - wait, she can also reach climax?! For many boys and men, this was and still is a) unknown, b) a trivial possibility and c) not entirely relevant or his problem. As young developing adults, we continued to deny the significance of having been taken without asked, whilst we were drunk, asleep or simply too shy to speak up. Trauma built up over time, until we began to understand what had happened to us. Until our bodies started to react in ways we suddenly needed to listen to. And only then, did we start to question the system that lead us down the illusory plank of ‘sexual empowerment’. Surely feeding ourselves to the wolves was not the most empowering way of owning our sexuality, but the path that IS a woman’s empowerment is long and bumpy. It is within her willingness to walk the path at all, that the requirement for empowerment is met; to meet oneself every step of the way, this is what it means to be empowered. To explore, to discover, to learn, to grow and to teach. Contextually, my generation had very little idea of the history of women; that women have never been allowed to speak up before, let alone vote or be educated. We were effectively the first generation to take these rights for granted, and therefore, have been unable to sense or feel that this deep historical oppression still lies underneath our progressive story of empowerment.
Fast forward, I, alike many of other intelligent, beautiful and independent 30 something year old women, have not met my match yet, or become pregnant along the way. In fact, by this stage of life, its feels as if the generic relationship between man and woman has almost reached a climax of collision. Women finally finding their voice, and their freedom to speak up and out for the first time, and men completely unequipped to deal with the emotional entourage they have been fuelling for the last hundreds of thousands of years. Additionally, once we reach our 30’s most of us have loved and lost. And it fucking hurt. We gave our innocent selves away and got whipped in the process. Now, whilst women hear the tick tock of their womb clock and see the looming end of the line, men start to realise that they have much more time then they had initially given themselves space for and get married to the ultimate non-committal social movement: Polyamory! Its like a tug of love; she pulls too hard and he lets go altogether. She goes flying into a pile of other fed up women and he goes off to fuck the younger ones on their polyglamorous path to empowerment! The dirty 30’s are so much dirtier than we ever imagined them to be.
Meanwhile, I return to the central question and find myself faced with the urgency of whether I am going to choose to make a family, On My Own. To choose to go out on a limb and become a single mum, like so many of my friends have ended up. I was never 100% sure or determined to be anything in particular… but there was one thing I thought I “knew” for sure, and this was that I would be a mother one day. Today, as a single woman, I am forced to think hard about whether making a baby by myself is the most integral choice for me my life and the journey of humanity at large - and what life could be like if I decided to choose otherwise. That I could choose a childless path despite the the agony I have gone through every month for the last 24 years, despite the fact that body is literally bleeding to reproduce and that my breasts were definitely designed for suckling… and that perhaps choosing NOT to have a baby, is what it means to be empowered as a woman in my position today. Such interrogations of the issue lead me to recognise and acknowledge that myself and other women like me, are indeed mothers of humanity, regardless of whether our body produces babies or not and that no matter what happens, we are the results of hundreds of thousands of years of formation, of giving ourselves and our lives to the big picture of life. The only difference is that NOW, we have a voice and are ready to use it - we are in the labour of a story that has been in the gestation of humanities womb for a long, long time and like all births, this one is messy, painful, complicated and bound to be astonishingly beautiful.
17 years world traveller, internationally recognised award winning body painter with a background in Anthropology, Orly delves deep into the enquiry of what it means to be a human being and ceaselessly expresses her art whilst following her heart. , Specialising in mimitism (camouflage), Orly's current expressions are a moving living creative and expansive entity that represents her passion for re-merging humanity with the earth from which we came, sustainable conscious living, healing the sacred feminine as we learn to respect our mother earth and advocacy for balancing commercial gain with global and local contributions.