In a time when hate towards women seems at a fever pitch, do we not need to answer with: that which you hate and try to destroy is sacred. That which you try to control is beyond your control. That which you try to define and shame is beyond your definition or judgement.
–Jason Pitzl-Waters, from “Goddess in Times of Horror,” The Wild Hunt
What could be less sexy than
a woman writing down plain truth
about her body and her marriage?
Putting this poem before you is more revolutionary than it should be.
This body is stretchmarked
from my shoulders to my knees,
as though a thousand pearl-eyed fish
had shivered kisses as I surfaced
through time’s suck and whinge. …
People who hate women—the culture(s) that hate women—insist that we smooth ourselves into a sort of plastic perfection, or hide our imperfect selves in shame and embarrassment, enduring ridicule, taunt, insult, oppression.
Rucks and pockets and sprouted hair,
brought on by pregnancies and arguments
and weird hormonal shifts…
But the Goddesses are not merely Arthur Rackham or Dante Gabriel Rossetti pasty-face dames trailing their robes in the water, nor are they only the scantily clad, t and a flaunting fantasies of (too many) comic books–and I’m certainly a far cry from those ladies fair. I insist upon myself: female, full, rounded and loud, complicated, desirous, furious, silly or thoughtful, confused or effusive or sexy as hell by turns. I insist on finding language to embody that woman. Me.
…now my skin
looks like the skin of a lake
when a chilly breeze ripples across…
Embodiment. Radical love for oneself as a way of loving world, loving creation. Pagan religions insist on immanence: finding god(s) in the world–in science, in nature, among people, and by embracing our own bodies. Deity as manifest, infusing our daily lives. Woman hating, body hating (and many, many women also hate the female body) goes directly against the idea of immanence. This is an old argument, an old duality, played out today through social media, movies, omnipresent advertising images and in the languages we inherit.
Some people claim that writing about oneself in a poem is narcissistic and/or tacky. Never mind that for now. If women don’t write ourselves, who will write us? How will we be portrayed? We know the answers to those questions. We know the language others will find.
I want every woman to insist on herself—and to be free and able to do so— whoever she is, intensely and immediately and forever and get to the work she must do in the world, without fear. To be in her body without having to wade a river and breathe an atmosphere of sludge and hate and violence. And we should look twice, and three times, even, at how female deities are portrayed in our own traditions.
We love and embrace sensual, sensory experiences as part of worship. What images do we find on our altars, in our gatherings, posted on our pages?
…Or skin of ocean.
(I have come to believe
life and love are questions of dilation.)
It shouldn’t be so crazy to want women to be able to laugh loud and move free. To be loved and admired and celebrated for who we are, as we are. But it still is, damn it, so here I am.
Against the shiny minor goddesses
I set moles, gray hair,
and crows feet…
Lots of people have written lots of good words about this—here, and here, and here and many places more–and how we cannot continue to live in and with such hate. How our daughters and our mothers and our sisters and our wives and we ourselves —ourselves– deserve better. I’m thankful for all the good words. I’m thankful for all the anger and the love and the people working for change.
…signs of good humor,
of pain endured and pain’s release.
Meanwhile I try to stand tall, walk straight, laugh outright when I feel joy, shout from my belly when I feel anger, and weep on the ground when I feel sorrow. To live life fully and unafraid, to live embodied, jiggly and giggly and wiping up the jam spilled in the kitchen, and to help others do the same. Because I insist on you, and your wildness, too.
This is more revolutionary than it should be.