There have been two posts in blog land over the last week that have really stuck with me because they’re about an issue that is very important to me – demystifying women and embracing who we are as women without any shame and not buying into the subtle (and often not so subtle) messages that society teaches us and encourages us to believe about our bodies.
The first post was written by Margot over at Jou Ma Se Blog, please make sure you read this post, it is powerful and says so much of the false indoctrinations we’re led to believe as women – The 25 Year Old Tomato Stain.
The second post was written by Celeste over at Reluctant Mom, please also read this post here – The One About Boys & Girls And Their Bits.
As a va.gina possessing member of the human race, these posts left me feeling indignant and the injustice of what little girls and women are led to believe about our bodies. You see, I received a very progressive and forward thinking education at an all girls school in Cape Town where the bulk of our teachers (all women) were feminists and members of The Black Sash. Classes where often spent debating the injustices of anti feminism and apartheid, we were taught to be lateral thinkers and to abore injustice and inequality in any shape or form. My learnings I’ve taken into adulthood and I have worked hard and fought hard against anti feminism, want to bring out the tiger in me, tell me that I can’t do something a man can do, tell me I can’t do something because I’m a woman and I’ll show you….
But sadly, I, along with almost all women of my generation and the generations that preceded us, was also not spared the indoctrination of girls bits being dirty, of our bodies being shameful.
Enter Ava-Grace and I’ve had to fight hard and make a conscious effort to be sure that I don’t indoctrinate her into the same school of thought, where she should feel embarrassed when she starts menstruating or buying into the belief that her body is shameful. I’ve had to think carefully about the messages I sent her, both verbally and non-verbally about her body and about what it means to be a woman.
A couple of week’s ago, after Ava and her BFF, Tristan discovered that they had different bits, she has been on a journey of self discovery. She has noticed that she has a va.gina. Sadly, that has also meant that my poor angel has developed a UTI.
I’ve had to fight against the voice in my head that once to reprimand her each time by telling her: “Sies, that’s dirty, we don’t touch there!” Of course, now with the UTI, it’s even harder because I really don’t want her touching as I’d like the infection to heal, but need to be so careful of how this message is portrayed to her as I WON’T EVER allow anyone to tell her her body is dirty. Her body is beautiful and perfect and knitted by the hand of God, there is nothing shameful about it.
Raising children really is such a minefield. Certain behaviours in boys are encouraged while the same cannot be said for girls and I hate that! I want my child to grow up with a healthy body image and to know that she does not ever have to submit to society’s acceptance of what it means to be a girl or a woman. That the workings of her body should be respected and celebrated in the same way a boys is.
I do believe that all us girl mama’s have a responsibility to teach our daughters healthy respect for their bodies but at the same token, boy mama’s too have a responsibility to teach their boys that a girl is just as important, just as perfect and that the working of her body, while different to his, should not be cause for crude jokes or embarrassing taunts across the playground.