I like reading all comments on my social media posts. Two of my recent posts gave rise to many passionate comments that span a full spectrum of opposite convictions.
These comments came in response to two different posts: the first wove stories a grandmother might tell a 5-6 years old girl, beginning with: ‘I am a Woman, I have a Womb’. The second explored being Lunar versus Solar, referring to Menstruators and Non-Menstruators respectively.
These comments evoked a thought process in me, which I am inspired to share here to spark a dialogue with you. I would love to hear your thoughts!
– “Not every girl has a womb”
– “Every human being came from the womb and that is something to honor”
– “I’m not so excited about conflating being a woman/girl with having a womb. What about women who have had hysterectomies? About transgender women and girls? Or transgender men/boys who do have wombs but aren’t women?”
– “Women are so much more than their womb. This is reductionist and this is also biological essentialism.”
– “Being able to create life is not reductionist, it is a key function of women and girls. It doesn’t mean all women will become mothers, but our life giving capacity is what’s celebrated… You can’t have a life without a body, but we are more than just a body”
– “Actually, patriarchy reduces us to our wombs and has seen us only as vessels for birthing children… Not to mention there are women who do not have the ability to give birth, do not have a uterus”
– “Just waiting for extreme transgender activists to swoop on the language used and claiming it as transphobic. That’s what J K Rowling was about.”
– “Too bad for the degrading dehumanising use of the word “menstruators” rather than women or girls”
– “Women, girls, and menstruators are all ways to describe sections of humanity. There’s nothing dehumanising about any of those words”
– “I don’t really like the term menstruator. We who menstruate are female, women and girls. WOMAN – let’s never erase us “
Women or Menstruators? Neither word-choice made everyone happy… which is both an age-old state of things, as well as a sign of our times.
We are living in times of transformation
Peoples’ bodies and identities transform, and so does the language, which is needed to holds these transformations.
When I begun working with Menstrual Empowerment, in the early 1990’s, the language was straight forward. The use of ‘Woman’ and ‘Girl’ was not offensive or exclusive, as far as I was aware.
The journey I inwardly took, and gradually came to teach others, was that of moving from a culturally-induced shame about my Womanhood, my Body, and my Menstrual Blood — to Reclaiming, Embracing, Honoring, and Taking Pride in my Woman’s Body and my Cyclicity.
My own journey evolved to taking women on similar healing journeys: letting go of PMS symptoms, honoring their monthly need to rest and renew, celebrating the Rite of Passage they never received when they begun menstruating, and passing new traditions to their daughters..
With women whose womb was surgically removed – this became a journey of honoring years of cycling and reclaiming their still-potent Etheric Womb.
And one day I realized my language made people uncomfortable.
The same language
that was empowering for a couple of decades,
now made people feel left out.
A new, inclusive language was called for,
and new terms were born…
In a menstrual context, the word Woman was replaced by Menstruator. This indeed felt inclusive to non-binary folks, yet many cis-gender women feel great unease by it (as you can see in the comments above).
On the continuum between cisgender and transgender – it appears that we haven’t yet found one set of terms which feels good to all.
And herein lies the irony:
Why would we want to force One Set of Terms
on a Continuum of Human experiences?
Instead of laboring to find one language that fits all, wouldn’t it make more sense to mirror the Human Continuum with a Linguistic Continuum?
Instead of attempting to invent a language that covers-all, and failing, could we show inclusiveness by Accepting words that don’t necessarily pertain to our own experiences?
Rather, can we let go of feeling hurt or excluded, and instead realize – generously – that we can live with a language that works for someone else, because there are other words that fit us fully?