by the refutation of our experience and our instincts
in a culture which validates only male experience.
“The truth of our bodies and our minds has been mystified to us.
“We therefore have a primary obligation to each other:
not to undermine each others’ sense of reality
for the sake of expediency;
not to gaslight each other.
“Women have often felt insane when cleaving to the truth of our experience.
Our future depends on the sanity of each of us, and we have a profound stake,
beyond the personal, in the project of describing our reality as candidly and fully as we can to each other.”
I read this quote this morning, and instantly gravitated to it…because it is shocking to me just how fast my insides shatter and my heart just crumples, with just a word. It scares me when this happens…because then the ripples start, and I begin to question the prior words, deeds, experiences…were they real? Or were they careful camouflage and thus by their very existence invalidation of who I am because they were needed to provide cover?The mind says they were real…but my unprotected heart recoiling in the shock and pain so unexpected begins to fly so frantic at the bars of its cage. And like a small captive bird it beats itself bloody against those bars that suddenly are there…just like that…because now I know there is that “step of translation” between who people see me to be and who they then speak to me as…truthfully that shreds me inside when it happens, because I have been free in myself and flowing…until with a thunkthis flying bird hits that static glass wall, invisible, unexpected, but no less devastating and seeming inevitable…and I do feel insane when I cleave to the truth of my own experience after I have hit that wall of misgendering.
Adrienne Rich speaks of the undermining of each other’s sense of reality…
…mine is suffering right now.Oh…not who I know myself to be…but rather who others know me to be. That feeling of insanity that she references above. Because when people are around me for a length of time, they do indeed experience me as female in my brain, my heart, my emotions and expressions, my love and affection, my orientation towards co-operation and collaboration……but then that male pronoun just flies out seemingly unbidden, and for the life of my I cannot understand how it can be…except that it must be that the gravity of my body and physical self is too powerful for the evidence of my heart and soul and spirit to overcome and I am chained to that outer shell diminishing…and thus diminished and reduced to mere outward appearance…and doomed to the dirt…yeah, it hurts.
I don’t know what to do about it, because it is beyond my control.