Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Sisters are Doin' it for Themselves

Have you heard of Mamapalooza? 200 mother-led bands performing across the country this summer. Bands like Placenta and Housewives on Prozac.

I'm currently reading Carolyn Heilbrun's Writing a Woman's Life. I'm only a few chapters into it, but I have been thinking a lot about the author's proposition that women have inherited the language, the narratives, and the stories of men and that these are our only tools for telling our stories. She says women's lives lose their authenticity when they are written down, even in autobiography, because the templates we have for telling them originated with men.

Someone who knows their feminist critiques better than I can reframe that last paragraph if I have butchered Heilbrun's point. What I take away from her book, however, is this enormous sense of "Where to begin?" How do we as women tell our stories in a way that is authentic, original and sui generis?

My first thought is that things like Mamapalooza and the many, many "mommyblogs" are attempts at it. Certainly mother's blogs (and pregnancy blogs) are both a new and democratic forum for women's writing and an elevation of women's reproductive and parenting work to the level of serious subject matter. But we are still using a language, even a design (posts, links to other blogs, etc.), that are easy commerce in the co-gendered internet world.

Birth stories are to my mind the one pure female narrative we have. Only women experience birth first-hand. Having experienced it, women understand other's births with a short-hand no man fully comprehends. And when women tell their birth stories they often reach a point where the story transcends words. They are left speechless, or with an imitation of grunts or moans, to capture the full scope of their story.

The challenge is transferring that essence to the written word. Telling one's story is different from writing it. I want to write a story that is as intuitive and primal as birth. We can start with our birth stories and keep writing the rest of our, women's, lives.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

www.placentamusic.com sing along with us on our newest tune about how bad the public school system sucks.

1:24 AM  

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