Saturday, October 06, 2018

The mothers of all calamities: screw Paradise anyway

"Why are they so sad?" my daughter asks at the museum in front of Adam and Eve Expelled from Paradise. Because they've been expelled from Paradise. Who expelled them? God expelled them. Why did he do it? Because Eve gave Adam a forbidden apple. And who gave it to her? A serpent who was the devil. And why did he give it to Eve and not to Adam? It's an important question. It's the question. For a moment, I am stumped. The Book of Genesis may be more far-fetched than Sleeping Beauty, but a feminist mother should still be able to answer a question of that caliber. Lena looks at me with her expectant seven-year-old eyes twinkling the way they do every time she works her implacable logic against me.

When she was only two, she stole my pads and, dying of laughter, stuck them on her back like two fragile wings before running off. She had no idea her pale wings would one bear her own blood. Now she's better informed, especially since I was foolish enough to show her a video of a natural birth. Since then she is adamant that she will not have children. I tell her that if having children ever makes any sense to her, the pain will be the least of her problems, but that if she really doesn't want to, she will absolutely be within her rights not to do it. And then I drag her to pro-choice marches or protests against gender violence, and when she gets bored of my proclamations, I remind her of our conversation in the museum in front of the painting. I remind her of the absurd story they've been telling women for generation after generation — a story that casts us as the witches, the ribs, the confused ones, the guilty ones, the weak ones, the mothers of all calamities. That's why, I say to my daughter, we need to tell each other different stories, ones that are truer, fairer, more ours; like the story where we are friends with the serpent and screw Paradise anyway.
— from "On Motherliness," in Sexographies, by Gabriela Wiener.

The painting pictured here is not the one Gabriela and her daughter looked at, but the sadness persists. It's imbued with naivete, a childlike wonder, and mystery that, to my eyes, makes it sadder.

Today the United States Senate voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh as justice of the Supreme Court.

We need to tell each other different stories.

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