When I was a child and throughout my life my mom told me stories about my grandma’s childhood and hers. Some were pleasant, and others not so much. My grandmother was raised to believe a woman was born to marry a man, to bear children, and to keep a home. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that scenario, if that’s what a woman wants, but the way it was back then, that was a woman’s only viable choice. Otherwise a woman was relegated to being a secretary, and to sleeping with the boss.
That’s the idea my mother grew up with. If a woman worked, it was because she had no choice, and as such she became a fringe benefit in the world of working men. My grandma met my grandpa, who was an atheist and a scientist, and while the above remained my grandma’s operating system for the entirety of her life, my mother’s lack of exposure to the overwhelming religious majority allowed her to raise me believing I could be anything I wanted to be.
More or less.
I could be anything I wanted professionally, but physically I had to protect my naughty bits from “the only thing men wanted”, and had to stay that way until the day I married. My own separation from the church (my mother had to be baptized a Catholic when she married my father, but she never forced the church on us) allowed me to make my own decisions on the level of bull contained in the above. That is to say, I grew up unburdened by the idea that I would end up in hell if I allowed certain things to happen between a preferred boy and me.
Going to a Catholic school (the only viable choice) didn’t change that. In fact, it only strengthened my ideas against a religion that held women in such poor regard, and gave them little to no power. I can remember the very day I decided I would never be a Catholic. I was sitting in class, listening to my teacher speak about dogma. She spoke of the Virgin Mary, of her qualities as a woman (apparently a huge one was that she was a virgin), and just as I was about to raise my hand and ask a question about the foolishness of something she had said, she mentioned it was a terrible sin to ask questions about dogma.
“Que estupidez”, I recall thinking. I didn’t ask my question, but I did catch a glimpse of fundamentalism in the wild fulgor of my teacher’s eyes as she bashed her own gender, and I learned what it looked like.
Much later in life, when I began using Photoshop to greatly enlarge ladies so as to paste them onto comparatively small backgrounds, I was inclined to work on vintage images. The above one is an example. As working on them took some time, I could not help but use it to think of how things might have been for those women if only they had been that tall. Their amazonian world would have been different. I doubt there would have been a word in the bible about beating them freely, or considering them the chattel of man.
Oh, I reckon there would have been a bible. Even in the world of my imagination there are those that instill indoctrination to control the masses… but in it there’s nothing about Eve coming from a little rib, nothing that illustrates a woman’s monthly period as filthy and rife with blame, or the miracle of birth as charged with guilt transfigured into labor pains. Babies are not born condemned to eternal damnation unless a priest sprinkles water on them, and a woman’s body belongs to her, as does the shaping of her own family.
The fastest way for a politician to lose me at hello is to tell me that my body does not belong to me, and that they are planning to remake those words into legislation.