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It will happen again

In light of domestic violence awareness month (that’s October if you weren’t aware) and in facing a newly reopened wound (or possibly one that never completely healed) here’s a poem from an adult survivor & witness of multiple types of abuse during childhood as I sit here in the aftermath of yet another nightmare. I don’t write poetry as much as I once did but I believe there is a connection between my poetry and my pain. When it’s┬ábearable┬áthe words don’t flow; when it’s not, like this morning, it sometimes writes itself.

what i knew
that i could trust no one
that it would happen again
that i could do nothing right
that i didn’t want to hurt anymore
that i was terrified
that it would happen again

what i feared
that it would happen again
that someone might find out
that he would kill me if they did
that they would not believe me
that they would not help me
that it would happen again

what i believed
that if i left they would all be safe
that i was the reason it happened
that somehow i deserved it
that no one could help me
that no one wanted to
that it would happen again

what i felt
scared it would happen again
depressed that i was helpless
terrified that it would happen again

what i learned
that i’d gain strength in leaving
that i could be loved
that love doesn’t hurt
that it wasn’t my fault
that it really did happen
that it would happen again

what i feel now
that i’m still scared
that i have to protect my daughter
that i am still helpless to protect my siblings
that it can happen again

what i know
that i still have nightmares
that i’m still afraid to sleep alone
that the fear is still fresh
that my mother was a victim too
that he can’t hurt me now
that he can hurt others
that i am safe
that others aren’t
that it will happen again

No Y chromosomes in this womb

It’s a girl.

Since I was 3 months pregnant, people have been asking me:

— “What are you having?”
— “Um a BABY. I didn’t get knocked up by a poodle.”

Of course, after that exchange, I get some disgusted response where I’m called a smart ass.

There are also those that assume I want a girl and try to convince me so. Truthfully, I don’t want a girl. I don’t want a boy either. I want a baby and that’s exactly what I’ve got.

Eventually, as people realized I was getting closer to the time I would actually be able to know if indeed I was having either/or, the question became: “Are you going to find out the gender?” or “Do you know the gender yet?” Most of the time, I’d just gently correct them and say “No, we don’t know the SEX yet, but yes we will find out.” Other times, I was my usual smart ass self. “Babies don’t have a gender, but we will be finding out the sex.” If I was in a particularly bad mood, I’d say, “What difference does it make?”

After asserting several times to people that indeed it didn’t matter to us what the sex of the child is, I would often get questioned about why I chose to find out in the first place. “If it doesn’t matter then why find out?” Of course, they think they have me at this point. I have 3 reasons for wanting to find out the sex of my baby:

1. My partner wanted to know. He has a little girl and was hoping to have a boy this go ’round. His daughter also really wanted a little brother. I could have let him find out but that would have drove me crazy. Especially since he’s the type that likes to joke around and he’d certainly taunt me with his knowledge.

2. I’m curious (read: nosy). Hence the reason him knowing and me not knowing would have drove me up a wall.

3. I wanted to be able to prepare myself to some small degree for how to approach parenting this child.

Granted, I believe that boys and girls can do the same things and should be allowed the same privileges, opportunities, and support. That’s not the aspect of parenting I’m talking about. I’m talking about preparing my child for the pressures of society. Society treats children differently based on their sex and I need to prepare my child for that. I need to prepare myself for it. How would handle it if my little boy says he was called a sissy? How would I handle my little girl coming home and telling me someone called her fat or ugly? How about when they want to do something not usually associated with their gender and face resistance? These are all concerns of mine and having this pre-birth opportunity to prepare myself is critical to me.

I don’t care about what color to paint the nursery or what color clothes to buy. Those things are irrelevant. I’m concerned about the challenges my child will face as a result of this social construct we call gender. I’m concerned about my own emotional reaction to those challenges and my ability to response intellectually and NOT emotionally.

Why do we feel the need to gender children? Why do so many confuse gender with sex?

There is this idea that the dominant culture is the yard stick against which we must all be measured. We have made strides toward (although have not by far conquered) the acceptance of ethnic, racial and religious differences. But, gender/sex stereotype seem to cross all boundaries. It is easy for us to believe that it is OK for one to be of a religion that differs from the dominant Christian culture we live in. It is much more difficult to believe that little girls aren’t fragile and dainty or that women are not emotional because of our hormones, but because of the way we were socialized.

Socialization is such an unconscious process that most people cannot accept that its results are not natural/biological/innate. It baffles people that I intend to intentionally socialize my child in such a way that she will be aware of and capable of taking advantage of all options available to her. She will be conscious of society’s idea of “appropriate” gender and sex roles, aware that she is not bound by these so called “appropriate” roles, and equipped to handle the backlash she will undoubtedly recieve when she goes against them.

So, this battle with people about buying my child pink or blue gifts isn’t really about pink or blue; it’s about realizing that the rainbow is not a dichotomy, nor is my child’s gender. I have no doubt that she will have some pink in her wordrobe, but she will also have an array of other choices. I don’t feel the need to bombard her with society’s idea of what’s appropriate for a girl child. I don’t think she should only have dolls and kitchen sets to play with. She’ll have Tonka trucks and a chemistry set, and a basketball too.

As much as she’s been kicking lately, I think we should give her room a soccer theme. Maybe she’ll play professional soccer someday. It would justify all these kicks to the bladder (and the resulting trips to the bathroom). I could say it was just practice.