I am but a branch in a long line of feminists on my family tree. I was raised by a feminist, as was my mother before me, and I am proud to be raising three feminists of my own — I have two daughters and one son. However, in light of recent newsworthy events being done in our name, I fear that I am feministing wrong. I could use your help with two scenarios which seemed fairly straightforward to me until recently.
This is the first: My 6-year-old daughter recently began learning to knit at school, and she seems to be enjoying it immensely. She is even planning on knitting Christmas gifts for a few family members. I was thrilled to hear of her new-found hobby as it is the source of much pride and joy for her.
However, upon learning about a woman in Australia who uses her vagina to knit as part of a feminist performance art piece, I immediately became distraught. Here I had thought that my budding little Susan B. Anthony had found a hobby to use as a creative outlet and to develop her fine-motor skills, when, in fact, she had fallen victim to the patriarchy of the knitting needle industry.
So, tell me, should I demand that the teacher demonstrate proper vagina-knitting technique to my little one, thus ensuring that she does not grow up ashamed of her beautiful, built-in knit-and-purl machine? Would it be advisable for the teacher to follow the artist’s lead and use her menstrual excretions as part of her classroom modeling? Or should my daughter not be knitting at all before puberty as her vagina is not yet capable of the wondrous things that yours and mine are, such as childbirth and cooking?
My second predicament arose after I learned of another brave woman who ran an entire marathon without using a tampon, even though she was menstruating at the time. The phenomenon was referred to as “free bleeding.” I brushed aside my instinctive concerns about hygiene and bloodborne pathogens and began wondering if I, too, was sending the wrong message to my infant daughter by forcing her to wear diapers against her will. I thought that I had her best interests at heart, as well as those of others around her, by containing her waste matter and disposing of it in a timely fashion, but now I am not so sure.
My question to you is, are there free-peeing groups that I can join, or should I consider starting one of my own? How would you suggest explaining this practice to less enlightened family members, grocery store patrons, and similar?
I want my baby to understand that the processes of urination and defecation are perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of, but my mother keeps bringing up things like “hygiene” and “common decency.” She just doesn’t get it. She can’t see that we are continuing the hard work of her generation and of those before her. I guess that passing the torch is never easy.
Thank you in advance for any guidance that you can provide in these areas. I may not understand those who do outrageous acts in the name of Feminism, but I am always open to learning. Happily, though, I can report that I do not anticipate any respect issues by my son with regards to his sisters’ bodies. I spent the last three nights forming their fecal matter into Lego-shaped blocks in hopes of removing the stigma that is so often given to bowel movements. He is blissfully building away as we speak — no anal shaming here! Whew!
Looking forward to the day when we can all vomit in public without fear of retribution,
About the Author
Leslie Gaar is a part-time SAHM of three, former bilingual educator, current blogger, and perpetual smart ass. Mostly the last one. She’s blogs at www.pailsandfires.com, and has been featured on Scary Mommy, TODAY Parents, and Club Mid. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.