Friday, September 08, 2006

el embarazo milagroso, or, get in my BELLY!

Starting, especially creating, things is usually overwhelming for me and I procrastinate. And then I don't do things that I wanted or needed to do. So I'm going to start with something that seems easier to write, a story about what happened today.

Today, I was wearing an outfit that shows my belly when it's been more than 3 seconds since I adjusted it (too big skirt + too small short-style shirt + big belly = lots of hiking up & down), probably inappropriate for my second day of work in an office. Oh well. Anyways, after waiting too long for the train, I get on, and am standing with about 15 other seat-less people in the car. A woman looked at me and quickly offered me her seat. I told her I was fine, but she was already standing up. So I sat down, thinking that my feet were tired and she probably was just positioning herself to get off the crowded train at the next stop. But she doesn't get off, several more stops go by, and as soon as another seat opens up she rushes for it. I think she thinks I'm pregnant. I'm young, my disproportionate belly is hanging out (and I think my pump was hidden), and why else would she be so insistent?
Then I start to think... on this crowded train, do I now have to play the part? Slash would it be fun to do so and mess with people? I start thinking about the conversations that would happen when somehow someone asks and I either lie and say that I am or come clean that I'm not, it's just a big belly and now I'm enjoying this seat, HA jokes on you. And I was thinking why I might want or not want to say that to someone, or tell this story in general. I would not be afraid to say it because I am embarassed that my belly was fat/round/disproportionate enough to be mistaken for a pregnancy. On good days, I actively like my shape. How it looks aesthetically/beautywise and the idea that I can take up space and mess with ingrained values of thinness and other related issues. On pretty bad days, I might not feel those ways, but I wouldn't feel actively embarassed either.

I would hesitate to say it to someone because I would be worried/mad about them feeling sorry for me, bad, or embarassed for the situation (or that I was trying to elicit that reaction and some pity or reassurance for it). This would imply that I was either making a negative comment about myself or trying to mitigate an insult that had been thrown at me. That I did not want to look pregnant or fat. This runs on the basic common assumption that looking fat = bad. That it's something to avoid. Even if you disagree with that assumption, it's hard to break out of it, or even to see that it is there, because its so a part of the way we think that it seems natural.

This might lead a compassionate listener to be uncomfortable if they thought I was telling a story that was painful to me or that I was being self-deprecating by assuming that someone thought I was pregnant. It might also lead them to deny that my belly looked pregnant as a consolation that the supposed insult was not accurate, so therefore not hurtful.

I wanted to avoid bringing up exclusive to certain people/classes theory, but this really makes me think of the Butler essay on speech and some other stuff we read in critical race theory. The idea that it can be useful/powerful to not automatically assume injury from phrases that have historically been hurtful. If you don't automatically take it as an insult, it gives you room to step back and question why it's harmful - like that assumption that fat=bad, and then possibly not take it as harmful. reclaim it. if you don't believe in the anti-fat idea that its based on, then it might not hurt if someone class you that. also, another related point that is that making this insult into a big deal puts emphasis on the harm this one individual is doing to another; the problem is a mean/rude person rather than a larger system of power and ideas in society that is the problem.

however... it's also really important to consider the current situation. and that it can be tiring or impossible to fight things and go against the grain all the time. one person can't just undo all the societal stuff because you want to, it still is in you and affects you. so, you might not always want to try to deal with rethinking all of these things that have a hurtful social meaning. the compassionate listener trying to make you feel better according to the rules/assumptions of the current social reality might be just want you want or need.

(and people that I talked to about this, I promise I'm not talking about you! or annoyed with at all! I was thinking about this before and also the way we're socialized I think its hard not to act in certain ways).

Either way, for some reason the idea is in my head and I shift my notebook so that it's not squashed against my body. I also became aware of carrying myself carefully walking off the train.

Enough rambling. I am way too long-winded. This is partly why I worry about blogging - maybe this is just stupid and unthoughtful self-centered stuff. I didn't go into class, gender, race, and sexuality assumptions that are a lot of the reasons that made this a more interesting/funny story to me because it's based on it being strange or funny that I would be pregnant.

I wanted to start this to encourage myself to think critially and write, or to keep thinking critically and practicing writing. I also want to get feedback from, dialogue with, but especially be challenged by friends and other people reading this. I think I'm wanting this partly because I had a lot of these things in school and I feel like I've had a lot less since I graduated. I want to keep doing it for my own sake, and to not lose sight of my politics/goals/ideals while having less directed time to think about it and possibly working in jobs not entirely in line with them.
I'll figure out more/write more later about what I want this blog to be. Actually, maybe I won't. Just writing would be better.

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