Monday, 14 January 2013

Regular women: a follow-up



Conversation about the use of the term regular women got me thinking. First, it became evident that the description regular woman had at least two interpretations.  One was that it simply meant a woman (ie normal human) compared to a witch. This is perhaps what young ChickieNob meant.  After all, wise as she is, she is only eight! 

The second interpretation was my assumption that it was assumed that a regular woman was one with children. I find it interesting that my mind still automatically went to the “regular woman = woman with children” interpretation, with the other side of the equation obviously that those of us without children are irregular, abnormal even. Why did I automatically think this?  Well, first because I’m not eight and don’t believe in witches!  

The fact that I immediately went to this interpretation seems to bely my own insistence that I see myself as a regular woman.  Perhaps I don’t.  After all, too often I have discovered that the way we interpret others’ comments is often the way we think about those issues ourselves.  I see it often – the slights we see mirror our own darkest thoughts and biggest fears.  

Do I think I’m a regular woman?  I’m not sure now.  But I know that I want to think of myself and all my readers without kids as regular women.  Because if we think of ourselves as regular women, then hopefully others will be able to do so too.  And if that ever happens, then we’ll no longer feel quite so isolated, quite so irregular, so abnormal, so different.  And I have a very strong desire to be freed of that stigma, of that ostracism.  I have a strong desire to feel accepted and legitimate.  Perhaps that’s why the words struck me so strongly.

15 comments:

  1. No, not regular - Spectacular!! :)

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    1. Kaitake used the most brilliant sentence (thank you!)

      So I will take it from her:
      No, not regular - Spectacular!! :)

      :)

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  2. ah, detection of the hidden premise! Well done.

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  3. Yeah, I've experienced this tons of times...our "glasses" are able to make our vision askew. Instead of taking in what others write and say as is, we see them differently. The last time I experienced this was in my responses towards a close friend's miscarriage.

    I think the first time I realized this more acutely than ever was when I gave a sincere compliment to a close friend, but she thought I was mocking her (because turned out that in her mind, such a trait wasn't a positive one). Doh!!!

    I like Kaitake's word: Spectacular! :-D

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  4. I was realizing as I read this that at my place of work the women have chosen so many different paths that I don't really know what I would consider to be a "regular woman." I think it is easier to believe that women fit many different molds in places like where I live, in San Francisco, than it would be in most other cities and towns in the US (I'm thinking of the middle of the country here). I hope, as time marches on, that we will stop considering only one path for women as "regular." I think that is already happening, but it will take time for it to really solidify in the popular conscience.

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  5. sounds alarmingly like 'normal' to me? And made me think of that experience I posted about recently-ish about visiting a childcare centre where a couple of kids expected me to be there for my own child - a regular mother?

    Or did this completely go over my head?

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    1. I guess I want "normal" to encompass much more than woman = mother. As Esperanza said, there are so many different paths for us all to take.

      Does that explain what I was getting at?

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    2. Yes I think so. And like Iris says below, we're more than the different hats we wear. Its such an ingrained societal thing, we project these 'norms' at people based on age and expectation. And outside of Pearl's PCOS explanation, I'm now trying to think about what does constitute a 'non-regular' woman. Or man?

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  6. Oh gosh - at one point, I was seeing a therapist for my grief. The one thing that she said that continues to stick with me and play over and over in my head:

    "You are a normal person in an abnormal situation".

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  7. I'm not a regular woman. But that's just because when you have PCOS you're always "irregular".

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    1. Ah, yet another interpretation!

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  8. I've thrown myself into spiritual reading this year... So far so good... the bottom line... ok, one of them... we, all of us, are so much more than the different hats we wear.

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  9. My assumption was like yours... I just gave a kind of rueful chuckle, because it came from Melissa's ChickieNob/a child (out of the mouths of babes...) -- but it certainly shows how deeply entrenched these ideas are in our culture. I would have been far less forgiving if I'd heard the same phrase coming from an adult.

    I'm sure everyone feels "irregular" at some point in their lives, whether it's about being childless or something else.

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    1. Loribeth, yes! Which brings me to Mel's post on "Otherness" that prompted my "Why me?" post here ... http://nokiddinginnz.blogspot.co.nz/2012/03/why-me.html

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  10. Just catching up on some blog reading and this post was very timely.

    I'm done with seeing myself as something other than 'regular'. We are all women with varying degrees of difference, wearing many hats. I don't think I really know what 'regular woman' means anymore.

    But this theme does strike at the heart of infertility and the emotional trauma associated with feeling like the non-woman, the 'other', - different to the standard 'mother-woman' we've been conditioned to believe is the natural path for all women. And then I think of all the other irregular people-types out there and how they too contradict the so-called natural paths in life. As tradition is meant to be broken, so too is this last bastion of thought, and it needs to come first from within those who are feeling it most.

    I've found it is I who has judged myself so critically, and allowed others to continue to do so. I guess if I don't believe myself to be a regular woman, how on earth will anyone else? It starts with those affected most by this perspective so it is up to us who feel irregular to start accepting that we really are not. Such a thought-provoking post! :)

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