Intersectionality

march

I am watching the Women’s March on Washington and while I had learned about Intersectional Feminism previously, seeing how women’s lives overlap with race, religion, genders, abilities, histories (jail, being on welfare, etc.) and more, live right in front of me, is profound.

And then, as I am writing this, I see that intersectionality itself has been a controversial part of the Women’s March! Well, the organizers made it clear, to me at least, that intersectionality is a major part of the event.

It did not come without conflict, even causing white women to stay away from the March after they felt left out of the planning and implementation of the event.

These reactions reflect an ongoing debate about intersectional feminism — the idea that many women are members of other marginalized groups, which affects their experiences — that is bigger than the march. The issue has especially heated up since social media has democratized and made public conversations about issues affecting women.

“Intersectionality simply means that there are lots of different parts to our womanhood,” Brittney Cooper, an assistant professor of women’s and gender studies and Africana studies at Rutgers University, explained. “And those parts — race, gender, sexuality, and religion, and ability — are not incidental or auxiliary. They matter politically.”

intersectional

So, reading about intersectionality in general and the March in particular, I am learning the history.

Kimberlé Crenshaw, a law professor at both UCLA and Columbia, is credited with coining the term intersectionality. She did this in her 1989 paper “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory, and Antiracist Politics.”

Crenshaw also pointed out that she came up with intersectionality to address a specific legal problem: As she put it, “To capture the applicability of black feminism to anti-discrimination law.” An example she frequently cites in explaining the need for intersectionality is the 1976 case Degraffenreid v. General Motors, in which five black women sued General Motors for both race and gender discrimination.

I know that understanding where intersectionality comes from gives me context from which to pull.

I Am Intersectional, Too

I have written about how I collect descriptive labels. Interestingly, many, many decry labels and refuse to inhibit their identities with them. But, how does one eschew labels yet embrace intersectionality? Is that possible?

intersectional-identities1

I was raised completely different than who I am now. As a young girl, I learned the ways of the white, heterosexual, cisgender, able-bodied and middle-class world. Yet  I am a super-fat mother & grandmother, a femme Dyke, Cubanx/Latinx (knowing virtually nothing about my culture), mentally ill, disabled, a-theist, sex worker, non-TERF feminist who loves a Muslim man and who learnt Spanish as an adult. I don’t know how I would figure out my intersections without all those labels… and the ones I forgot to list.

Watching the end of the March’s rally, I am incredibly happy to see the wide variety of women represented , many of whom do intersect with my identities.

I’m sure the arguments for and against the Women’s March on Washington are being formulated or written about even now, but I am extremely pleased… more than that… excited, energized, inspired… by the speakers, poets, musicians, singers and leaders who were on that stage today.

I wish I was there.

intersectional_feminist

Oddities & Ongoings

Oddities & Ongoings

I am nearly immobilized by the events happening right now. 45 is trying to kill us all. Just because he is at the end of his life and has a good bunker to hide in doesn’t mean the rest of us should have to die for his ego. I have horrible thoughts I wish I could purge, but they come unbidden sometimes. That man is evil. Just pure evil.

(And people felt this way about Obama?!? He never came close to killing us, much less in the first 3 months of office.)

Kinky Exam Room

chair
Is this an exam “table” or what?!

Work is slow for me which is frustrating considering I am still in the hole from the manic donations to Syria relief. I have been writing some really good pieces for my work blog, but one of my best, about Medical Fetishes, was pulled because I used forbidden words (pee, shit, toilet, bathroom). Sheesh, I just wrote about peeing in a cup at the doctor’s office! But work is very PG13 and even though it wasn’t golden showers related, it was yanked. Now I am lost about how to continue the series.

I want to write just basic: This is the exam table with stirrups, This is how an enema works, This is the speculum, This is the gown, This is the syringe… you get the gist. All regular normal things that loads of folks fetishize. Having been a midwife for so long… and being twisted… I am able to make each of those topics highly sexualized and fetishized.

Only twice as a care provider did I think anything sexual about women in my charge. One was Zack when he was pregnant and laboring; we became lovers soon after. Then there was another woman I had a sexually visceral reaction with (she felt it, too) and I removed myself from her direct care and became her doula. We never acted on the feelings, but they were most certainly there.

Feminist Porn

vibrs

Life with my cub is delicious and fun. He is amazing… is having some psych issues, but I’ve been able to nudge him into therapy and that will, I know, help lots. It has to be an enormous challenge being Muslim and kinky. And that’s just the off-work life!

Things between him and me, however, are in a self-sustaining/maintaining place. Just a delight being with him, talking to him, having sex with him. So so much fun! And I just realized, because he told his therapist, that I am TWICE HIS AGE! Fuck, I am old. We’ve been together for almost 18 months and I just figured this out?! (Where have I been?!)

tumblr_onkv5fnJfa1tb8godo1_500

I don’t think I told you, but I found a Feminist Porn site! We’d been looking for one for quite a while because standard porn is a big ol’ yawn to me. Fake fake fake and just weird what with the girls wearing stilettos to bed and tromping around the pool in heels and giving the stupidest blow-jobs ever.

Googling “Feminist Porn” brings up several for-pay sites and someday, I hope to be able to use them, but Syria has the bulk of my money at the moment so finding a free Feminist Porn site was quite the coup!

BellesaAugustAd

Bellesa (https://bellesa.co/ – NOT .com) has culled free porn from several free sites, including PornHub which is one of the largest regular porn sites out there, but have screened the videos before bringing them to Bellesa. Even so, some of the screened ones don’t make my cut.

I cannot abide by women faking pleasure. They squeak like mice and no matter what position they are in, they act like they are having a clitoral blast. Can you see me rolling my eyes? I’ve been screening the videos before my cub and I watch together (today I had him screen) and any squallering garners a thumbs down from me. (I keep a Word Document with the names of the videos I like and don’t like, besides the Star rating system on Bellesa.)

I will not watch a video if anyone has bruises that are not explained in the scene. I love kinky bruises as much as anyone else, but unexplained ones, especially if they look like they were made by hurting someone without their permission, squicks me.

I am not 100% sure, but would probably not watch one that had the girls in shoes on the bed. That is just so fake and ridiculous. Fuck, you’ll rip the sheets!

Hamilton

hamilton

I am still obsessed with Hamilton: An American Musical. I listen to the music 15+ hours a day sometimes. I love the Hamilton Mixtape, too, but right now am on a continuous loop of the original cast album. If you’ve not yet discovered the music, do yourself an enormous favor and immerse your Self, too.

Because of the musical, my cub and I read the original book, Hamilton, by Ron Chernow. It was amazing, too. After we finished that, we read Washington: A Life, also by Chernow. I actually loved Washington even more than Hamilton. I had no idea George Washington was as incredible as he was. Chernow brought him to life.

washington

I loved American History in junior high school, considered being a History teacher at one time, but then just lost interest over the years. Hamilton has reopened the passion I once had for American History! While I think Chernow is a fantastic researcher, his other books don’t really interest me. So, my cub and I have moved on to Lincoln, jumping right into the center of it all with Lincoln: Team of Rivals. We’ll be starting it later this week.

team-of-rivals

Okay, time to sign off of here. My cub and I have a date to watch the 3 porn videos he found for us to watch together. Woo hoo!

I do have to laugh a little at his saying how much more discerning he is with porn now, which is amusing because he’s watched it for about 18 years now. Hey, if I can convert a regular porn user to feminist porn, my day is complete!

A Side Effect of Goodbye

I wrote my Goodbye post for my Navelgazing Midwife Facebook followers and received something that I couldn’t have predicted: love.

I Am Loved

love gif

Thanks

thank-you-note

The kind words of thanks and appreciation for my writings over the last decade+ made my heart so full.

“A million times thank you. Without your influence I would never have become my own navel gazer.”

“Barb, I understand closing this door in your life and moving on but just know your words have had a great positive impact and you will be missed.”

“I have always been awed and so inspired by your ability to open up and share so boldly who you are.”

Births

signs-of-spiritual-transformation

But the comments from women about their births… my heart melted with those.

“so sorry to see you go! i found you during my surrogacy pregnancy, and you were a huge factor in my choice to birth med. free.”

“While pregnant with my first son I couldn’t get enough of your blog – it is what ultimately allowed me to find my voice and speak up that I wasn’t liking the care I was receiving from my OBGYN. I chose to leave that practice and seek out a midwife. Best decision I’ve ever made.”

“I love you Barb. You patiently waited for me to find my strength to say what really caused my baby to die. You held my hand and my heart as it took me years to realize how my daughter really died. You didn’t shame or blame or deflect from the truth.” This mom went on to become an NICU nurse instead of home birth midwife after her baby died due to the negligence of a home birth midwife.

Caring for Women
hands mixed
photo by Barb Herrera

And then there were the women who shared their personal paths from doula to nurse or certified nurse midwife. Stunning.

“I have followed you for so long, yours was the first blog I found and fell in love with when I realized that I NEEDED birth in my life! I’ve since gone to nursing school and become a l&d nurse, chairing our NCB Committee, and trying so hard to help women be respected and truly cared for during their experiences.”

“You have been such a wealth of knowledge for me as I completed my journey from doula to labor nurse to nurse midwife.”

“I was accepted back into nursing school today – 4 semesters stand between me and a BSN. L&D is the goal and upon graduation, my MSN to become a CNM. Thanks Barb, I owe a lot of my drive and self discovery to you.”

Thoughts

I am incredibly humbled by the comments I received on that Goodbye post. That I had an affect on so many is so amazing to me. As I write this, I am wiping tears of gratitude for all the blessings I’ve had as the Navelgazing Midwife. As is usual, the love and indebtedness people have for each other is symbiotic, flowing back and forth… a Möbius strip of love.

Thank you to all.

giffull