Sunday, March 28, 2010

"Motherhood in Bondage" A compilation of letters from the original desperate housewives and others. . .

I am reading, "Motherhood in Bondage," a compilation of letters written to Margaret Sanger, the woman behind Planned Parenthood.
In my art studies, I have been intrigued by the work of the Second Industrial Revolution and the people who were activists during that time. I love Kathe Kollwitz, the wife who was an artist in Berlin, married to a doctor who treated patients in the slums. It is hard to imagine the depth of poverty in those days, coupled with the lives of the rich who often exploited them.

Today's women take for granted that we can discuss birth control in mixed company and make choices on when to have babies via many means. Margaret Sanger hated abortion, but she also hated to see women stuck in violent marriages where they couldn't leave lest they loose custody of the children they needed to protect, or just kept having them when they were being worn down, one after the other, or there they had to give the babies or children up to orphanges that were satilites of Hell. Margaret lived during the time when husbands could leave their wives with no one running after them with child support orders, and the mothers of their children had no means of support and children were sent at young ages to work to support their families. These letters portray women of the time. Doctors didn't know when women could get pregnant and the prevailing wisdom was that they got pregnant right before or right after their cycles, which got a lot of women pregnant when the doctors did advise them.

Contrary to modern opinions on her, Margaret was not for elimination via sterilization of people more likely to pass on poor genetics or of any race although it appears that she made alliances with people who did this so that she could promote her cause, but was for women making the right choices and being allowed to make the choice to not have children if they did not want to. She thought that we could eliminate poverty by making contraception available to all, rather than looking at a bigger picture of other factors, but in truth, limiting family size was something that each women could in theory do to help herself as much as possible.

She leaned conservative in her beliefs and I think she’d be appalled by how 13 year olds have access to birth control and how with the freedom we have enjoyed that as a society, we forgot about responsibility.

I have been facinated by Margaret's story because I have had a lot of educated women repeating stories about her, taking quotes out of context, and in general bashing her. Like anyone, Margaret Sanger was a complicated person and it is impossible to define her based on portions of what she has said or of her affiliations.

While she was an atheist, I believe that Margaret Sanger (who was open in her monogamous relationships) rejected God because she saw religion as a way of controlling women and removing their free will, justifying and tolerating their subjugation. Her being open was her making her own choices because she could. . . since she had her pills. I believe that in spite of her not so good qualities that God believed in Margaret Sanger. Maybe she isn’t one of His saints sitting close to Him in Heaven, but her heart was for educating women and helping them and for letting them rise to have other opportunities. A woman with her means and education could pretty much have done as she pleased.

Friday, March 12, 2010

How long has it been?

I have passed the six month anniversary of the fire and I feel good. On that date, we got with the builder and it was confirmed that in out new house, I get to have my own area for doing art and writing. I want a small table in there with chairs so that I can also have a place to set a nice tea setting. My art room will be next to the kitchen and the downstairs bathroom and I may seldom leave that corner of the house! There will be few memories of the fire in this new house, other than that it happened. We are getting a new loan to expand it and while it won't be a showcase home, it will be bigger and more of what a family of my family's size needs. I really wish I still had my old house, small as it was, because I had my grandmother's dolls and some family heirlooms. There were nothing, but they were fragile roots to my past. Every time I cry, Cloud reminds me that the roots are severed for forever, but the artists live on through my hands every time I work with my papers and clays. I don't cry like I used to, but my eyes get teary.

A week ago, I got home from visiting my mom in Arizona. I spent a couple of days at a monastery in silence. The only problem was that the other visitors were all 55 and over, it being a snowbird community. I felt like I was 19 and they all seemed much, much older. We ate meals in silence and they all went back to their motor homes and I was a lone guest in a 12 room guest house. During the day, they all were mostly doing other things. The monks wouldn't talk to me and the woman at the reception area seemed only interested in discussing the schedule of the place. When I browsed the gift shop, I realized that she wasn't that bright and that I probably didn't want to get trapped in a conversation with her.

The three weeks with my mom were really, really nice. She is 70 years old. How long will she and my step dad be healthy? We drove all over southern Arizona, seeing Tucson, Bisbee, many wineries, and a place called San Xavier Mission. San Xavier was my religious place. Maybe it was the architecture. The mission was Moorish in design and while not as huge as the European cathedrals, when I touched it's walls, I felt energy and knew that the original builders knew that people would be in awe of it and worshipping there 300 years later. My mom knew that it was special to me and she bought me some books on it. I also bought some Rosaries and horse blankets (blankets made in China!) This is a photo of one of the statues of Mater Delorosa. From her, my drawing took off again. Look at her face. Why does a stature make a person want to cry? Mary of Sorrows was crying for her son. You can see the muscle structure. I knew it in my art classes, I saw it, but when I saw this statue, I felt it.

In the cemetary chapel, there was an older woman crying. She whispered soemthing to me and I knew she was Italian with the cadence of her words. I grabbed the Rosary that I would give to Cloud and prayed with her. Who was she praying for? A lost husband? A child? Her own mother? I did my Eastern Orthodox bowing and she was not able to. She would cross herself when I came up. After a short time, she hugged me.

A few hours later, my mom dragged me into a casino. I was completely overwhelmed by the sites and sounds and wanted to get the hell out. But my mom kept winning. She won a lot of money. I went to the bathroom and there was a woman in a wheel chair crying as her check was gone, spent at the casino. I am one to stop and help people, but I looked at her in silence and left the bathroom. Normally, I'd give someone like that money, but I had a feeling that she was going to spend it. The front desk had numbers to Gambler's Anonymous and I knew she wasn't going to be stuck at the casino for forever.

(One of my friends who loves these places says that I haven't had the right host-- my mom is a fun lady, but he says that I need to be prepared for it ahead of time, glitzed up and in pretty shoes and a stunning dress with what I plan to spend. At the time he says I have to go, there will be no pathetic creatures who've spent a months' entitlements on the slots. He says I will love playing tables. I may one day do this.)

While I was gone, my husband had one of my college daughters take care of the kids for the first week. My new suburban died on her as it has been dying on me. He, knowing that he was going to have to drive it, got it fixed after months of me being told it was something that it wasn't and having it pronounced fixed many times when it wasn't. While I don't like it dying on anyone, I was just happy that it was fixed!

He didn't clean while I was gone. No point in bringing things up to air here, but I was a bit upset when I got home and he said it was the fault of the kids. Women, be warned. If you go on a trip, hire a cleaning lady before you return.

The above picture was taken at an old fashioned picture place. I tried to dress up like a can can girl, but I looked unconvincing. The photographer told me to put this gown on and threw me the pretend rifle. It just seemed right!

My step dad and mom took me to a canyon called the Chiracahua Canyon. I didn't get any good pictures with my cell phone. I wish it had a neck strap. This is a place where Chief Cochise was buried and a lot of wars were fought. The land is beautiful and worth fighting over.

We seldom had a day of rest and my mom paid for everything given that finances always seem to be tight for me. A week later (yesterday) she called me up to let me knwo that the ranch has been sold and that she is moving to northern Arizona-- she had felt like she needed to get me down to see the place and to experience it before she moved!

I have to get out again next year on my own money. It is good to see my mom, but she thinks we need to meet for a writer's confernece. She has been sad that I hardly write any more and says that it worries her!