taking it: number one

"taking it"

said to and of women.
said to me
about me.

slut. baby killer. ugly. damaged goods. used up. fuckable. unfuckable. sloppy seconds. whore. feminist bitch. pig. dog. disgusting animal. piece of ass. crude. unattractive. sweet. not sweet. bossy. shrill. bleeder. dried up. hysterical. emotional. crazy. nasty. heathen. first to sin. the devils gate. [the one who] destroyed so easily god's image, man. seducer. the first deserter of the divine law. she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. a temple built over a sewer. asking for it. poisonous snake. defective. unfit. (because i cannot provide enough. because i work too much. to pay off another man's debt. because i love. because i had the audacity to say no). wife or prostitute. small and narrow breasts, and broad hips, [and] to the end should remain at home, sit still, keep house, and bear and bring up children. barren. weak. ballbuster. baby. vile. offensive. property. possession. uncooperative. unwilling to compromise. collateral damage. wrong for not coming forward. liar when i did. confused about the meaning of consent and in need of his explaining definitions to the women in the room.
too sensitive. unable to think for herself. demanding. needy. shit. domineering. angry. unhappy. a dissapointment. prettier when i smile. impure. broken. full of myself. opinionated. irrational. cold. cruel. too soft. reject. trash. hideous. hot body. freak. fallen.

but without being told
named by another,
this is a body. this is my body.

my hands have caught babies and held the dying, baked pie and hit hard the weight of
another against my will, soothed the sick and built with bricks. 
my hips have danced free and held my infant son and burned under the aftermath of illness. 
my mouth has sung hymns and kissed open and located the refuge of just right words. 
my legs have bought my own survival and hooked around another’s waist and walked and walked and walked.

 


Though many religions have a history of misogyny, I chose to take words from Christian history for this piece, as it is the most dominant (and in this one can make the claim the most oppressive) religion in the country where i presently live. Christianity, with its history and holidays and beliefs, is considered normative, and as such often remain unexamined and unquestioned.

"And do you not know that you are (each) an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the devil's gateway: you are the unsealer of that (forbidden) tree: you are the first deserter of the divine law: you are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God's image, man. On account of your desert— that is, death— even the Son of God had to die." - Tertullian, from "On the Apparel of Women" book 1

"Woman is a temple built over a sewer." –Tertullian, cited in “the father of Latin Christianity”

"For it is improper for a woman to speak in an assembly, no matter what she says, even if she says admirable things, or even saintly things, that is of little consequence, since they come from the mouth of a woman. –Origen, from Fragments on First Corinthians, 7

"What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman… I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children." –Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo Regius, from De genesi ad litteram, 9, 5-

"As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from a defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence." –Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica

"The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes." –Martin Luther, from Works 12.94

"Men have broad and large chests, and small narrow hips, and more understanding than women, who have but small and narrow breasts, and broad hips, to the end they should remain at home, sit still, keep house, and bear and bring up children. –Martin Luther, from Table Talk

"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." — Pat Robertson, from a letter written July 1992

"The Holiness of God is not evidenced in women when they are brash, brassy, boisterous, brazen, head-strong, strong-willed, loud-mouthed, overly-talkative, having to have the last word, challenging, controlling, manipulative, critical, conceited, arrogant, aggressive, assertive, strident, interruptive, undisciplined, insubordinate, disruptive, dominating, domineering, or clamoring for power. Rather, women accept God’s holy order and character by being humbly and unobtrusively respectful and receptive in functional subordination to God, church leadership, and husbands." –James Fowler, from Women in the Church, 1999.

"Women will be saved by going back to that role that God has chosen for them. Ladies, if the hair on the back of your neck stands up it is because you are fighting your role in the scripture." –Mark Driscoll, from a sermon in 2008