Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Trance of Unworthiness by Monica Rodgers

Painting by Leticia Banegas

One of my first revelations was the shock of learning that I was a girl. Ok, let me rephrase that. It wasn’t about my anatomical understanding of my gender, but about what that meant for me as a female species in the world. It meant that I had a different set of rules.

My brother and I loved to play dress-up when we were little. I have a hysterical photo of the both of us standing side-by-side in front of the fireplace. I am dressed smartly in my father’s oversized suit-coat and tie, and my brother is standing to my right looking his most alluring in my mother’s gauzy, dusty-blue negligee.

It was shortly after this photo was taken that I recall an event in which I re-enacted the power-suit as a means of impressing the cocktail wielding guests my parents had over one celebratory Sunday afternoon, and I’m guessing I was around six. I have no idea what they were celebrating, I only remember that I had everyone’s attention when I proudly marched down the stairs using the last step as my stage to announce dramatically to the crowd that I would be The President of the United States when I grew up!  Ironically, I recall that my brother donned a jaunty yellow construction hat and was playing with trucks on the floor and was right about mid-crash when the room suddenly seemed very quiet and small.  I remember some murmured remarks, and a few smirks and perhaps an exclamation or two from one of the ladies, “isn’t she precious?” -- but it was actually my brother who ultimately and innocently broke the devastating news.

“You can’t be President silly! You’re a girl!”

Although I was still very young, this moment is etched in time. It had a significant impact on my personal perception. For whatever reason, my little girl essence didn’t scoff in response to this or reveal my developing resolve to show them all how wrong they were. Instead, I recall that it quieted me, and I felt deeply betrayed in that moment, and as if my obvious error, made me a silly little fool. It was one of my first experiences of disassociating with an uncomfortable reality in which I felt I had no power. As soon as this fact settled within me, it grew, and I became enraged at the sheer injustice of it. I remember the hot sting of realizing that the world was different for me as a girl, and at some point, even associating my anger with the taste of copper in my mouth, like the time my brother dared me to suck a penny. The most shocking thing of all, however, was that no one around me seemed the least bit fazed by the news. They reminded me of a cartoon I’d seen on one of my favorite TV series at the time, Tom and Jerry. Tom is a cat who is sleep-walking and Jerry the mouse is putting things in his path to bridge the gap between one place and another and nothing seems to wake Tom, no matter what.  

No matter what my experiences were from that point forward, I could see how different things were for my people. Boys had one set of rules and girls had another, and just like in the cartoon, it was as if everything was positioned in just such a way so that none of the girls would wake up to this fact. The invisible fence showed up everywhere in my life whether I was at work, at school, at home, and especially in church.

With my new eyes and ears, I remember sitting beside my mother at church on Sundays and literally feeling my skin crawl as my immediate surroundings suddenly seemed a complete void of any hint of anything feminine. There were no soft pillows, rounded edges, magical looks or swaying hips. Instead there were straight-backed seats with hard edges, stern faces and disapproving glances that seemed to intimate that I was dirty and wrong, even though I had arrived freshly bathed!

“Cross your legs, sit up straight, say your prayers, kneel, ask for forgiveness, confess your sins."

The scripture passages depicted the holy, and the most sacred book of GOD. It was read aloud to the congregation, repeatedly confirming my place in the world in more than 200 verses stating again and again the lowly station of my Self and my Sisters:

Wives must obey their husbands.
Women are unclean.
The creation story of original sin began with the wickedness of Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Men only are made in the image of GOD.
Women are whores, mothers or nuns.
No female deities, priests or disciples in sight.

As the second sex, fashioned from the rib of Adam, my people represented the descendants of decisions made by the queen-mother of all bad choices.
"Eve -- you dirty whore, look what you’ve done to us!!”
My despair was palpable and I could see that when I glanced toward reason, that all of the women in church, including my Mother, were fast asleep in the pews surrounding me.

Genesis begins by crediting men for the creation of Woman from Adam's rib. 
And reminds us that Woman are cursed -- maternity is a sin, and marriage a bondage.

• Intimates that female servants may be sex slaves.
• And casts women who seem witchy to death.
• Women may not enter tabernacle as we are unclean, unholy.

• Women who have sons are unclean 7 days.
• Women who have daughters are unclean 14 days (clearly to birth a girl is even more unclean?)
• Menstrual periods are unclean (read: dirty, nasty).
• If master has sex with engaged woman, she shall be scourged (WTF?).

Numbers: The Polling and survey of people only includes men -- What?  Women literally don’t even count?
• "Virgins" are listed as war booty.

• Abomination for women to wear men's garments, vice-versa.
• Woman raped in city, she and her rapist both stoned to death (because she must have tempted him?)
• Woman must marry her rapist (what in the holiest of Fucks exactly is this bullshit?)
• Men can divorce woman for "uncleanness" not vice-versa.
• If woman touches foe's penis, her hand shall be cut off (I can’t even stop laughing at this one).

• Jephthah's nameless daughter sacrificed.
• Concubine sacrificed to rapist crowd to save man.
• King Solomon had 700 wives & 300 concubines.

• Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one . . ."

• Evil women seduce men, send them to hell.

• God scourges, rapes haughty women (Jesus take the wheel).

• One of numerous obscene denunciations.

• [woe] to them that are with child."

• Mary unclean after the birth of Jesus.

I Corinthians
• Man is head of woman; only man in God's image.
• Women keep silent, learn only from husbands.
• "Wives, submit . . ."

• More "wives submit…"

• Women adorn themselves in shamefacedness.
• Women learn in silence in all subjection; Eve was sinful, Adam blameless.

Monica Rodgers is a unfatigable advocate for the full actualization of Women. She is a champion for advancing consciousness and personal accountability while dismantling the patriarchy and healing both the wounded masculine and feminine in our culture. 
With over 25+ years of experience in healing modalities, leadership and Co-Active Coaching, she also has a wealth of experience as a writer, blogger, entrepreneur, and consultant. 
She is also the founder of Little Bits by Monica Rodgers and The Earth Savers Gang Story Book Series and has been featured in InStyle Magazine, The New York Times, and on The Today Show. 

1 comment:

  1. "My despair was palpable and I could see that when I glanced toward reason, that all of the women in church, including my Mother, were fast asleep in the pews surrounding me." How deeply I relate to this story from my own background. . . .