I hear that you should do something that scares you every day. I don’t know who says this, but I hear it. This has been a good month for that; I started sending out freelance articles, offered a rewrite when the first one was rejected instead of wallowing in self-doubt, sent off a proposal for a radio documentary that I’ve been wanting to make for years, and signed up for PostADay. Somehow, the something-scaries have become so numerous that I stopped having time to feel so much fear. Right. That’s done. What’s next?
This week, I went out on yet another limb, and went to the audition for The Vagina Monologues. This has a one-two punch. First, I haven’t been on stage since well before I became a mother. I have, in the past, described theatre as my first love, with science coming second, and all those boyfriends arriving late to the scene. Somehow, though, it fell out of my life, what with all the bills, and the graduate courses, and the babies, and the houses, and the cars, and the practical demands of everyday life. But this show… I’ve wanted to do this show for years, but it scares me. The other women who arrived seemed so calm, so open, so able to do whatever monologue they were assigned. I spent most of the meeting scanning, and reading, and finally finished by saying to the director/convener: “These three. These are the ones I can get through. The rest of them are beyond me.”
I don’t know whether it was years of being a woman in a man’s world, teaching engineers and physics students, being told again and again, “Gee, I didn’t know a woman could do this job.” I don’t know quite what it is, but I mostly want to deny that I have any gender, any sexuality. Look past me, don’t see me, let my ideas stand on their own. For the love of all that is holy, please don’t realize that I am a woman.
Here am I, with “Feminisms and Critical Pedagogy” and “Feminisms and the Pedagogies of Everyday Life” within reach of my desk, (and I’ve read them both) trying desperately to remain neuter. Despite identifying as an ecofeminist. Despite having birthed three children, two of them in my own homes. Despite all the unconventional, loud, strident moments in my life… please look away. I am not a threat.
Guess what world? I’m a threat. I have positions (which is not the same thing as opinions.) I’m going to voice them. I have an education, even in things that I’m not really supposed to know about, like deformable solids, general relativity, and the poststructural analysis of gender performance. And I’m going to be reading one of the Vagina Monologues in public this year.
I’m a little scared.