Walking While Woman
A solo stroll back and forth to a friend's dinner, during the week of Roe's dismantling.
My friend Tad published a new memoir this week. Two nights before the public launch, his wife Amanda hosted a small, private dinner for old friends at a nearby restaurant. It was a warm, sunny evening in New York City after a too-long cold, wet stretch. The restaurant was 2.9 miles from my home on a path that would take me along the Brooklyn waterfront at sunset. I’d spent the better part of the day unable to work, responding to men who not only want to control our bodies but who can’t understand what the big deal is or why we feel entitled to demonstrate on Kavanaugh’s lawn.
I—perhaps like you—have been in such a white hot fury over all of this that I’ve been losing both sleep and my mind in equal measure. I needed to clear my head. To move my body through space and shake it off. So I decided to walk to dinner.
Ladyparts is a reader-supported publication, but if you can’t afford the $5 a month or $50 a year, just email me at email@example.com, and I’ll comp you, no questions asked.
This meant removing the brown high-heeled boots I’d planned to wear, because they matched my dress better, and donning flat-heeled black ones. I’d spent a good chunk of change on those fancy brown boots back in 2015, but I wish I hadn’t. They are comfortable enough for standing still, but we women are not made for standing still. Particularly since 2015, after which we started marching (and marching and marching) against an admitted pussy grabber who stacked the courts against us.
Plus I’ve had two—count ‘em, two!—surgeries on my feet to combat the Morton’s neuromas that formed on each foot due to: 1) having worn high heels to parties in college; and 2) not understanding, during my first pregnancy, that I would have to replace every pair of shoes I owned because my foot was now a size 8, not a 7. I also can’t walk in heels because it’s hard on my knees, and I had to have knee surgery in 2017 to repair a torn meniscus, twelve years after my knee collapsed under the weight of my third pregnancy.
Which is yet another thing the men telling women to just cross our legs and stop having sex don’t understand about our bodies. Never mind that sex is good for us or that most of us enjoy it and can’t imagine our lives without it. Never mind that all unwanted pregnancies are the result of male ejaculate. Never mind our shameful maternal mortality statistics, which makes carrying a pregnancy to term in the U.S. a game of Russian roulette. Pregnancy, even when things go “well,” can be brutal on our bodies. I’ve highlighted below all 32 of the adverse health consequences my own body endured, thanks to my three pregnancies, but suffice it to say many of them required expensive surgeries and months of post-op recovery, and two of them—burst appendix, vaginal cuff dehiscence—nearly killed me.
Jocelyn J. Fitzgerald MD, FACOG @jfitzgeraldMDThe entrenched myth that pregnancy and birth is safe, easy, routine, “natural”, or no-big-deal and without immediate or long term serious consequences to the person carrying that pregnancy has played a significant role in getting us to this point.
So there I was, walking in my flat black boots that didn’t match my dress to the party, thinking about how men think pregnancy is no big deal on the female body, but it is. I was also thinking about the film I’d just seen with my son on Mother’s Day, which was based on the true story of French novelist Annie Ernaux’s illegal abortion in 1963. It’s called Happening, but a better translation of the original title, L’Evenement, might have been The Thing That Happened. Happening is vague, unmemorable. The Thing That Happened is both more accurate and would be more intriguing, plus I want everyone to see this devastating film, including every member of the House, Senate, and Supreme Court.
As I was walking to the party, moving my body through space, I was also thinking about how the attack on Roe V. Wade has never been about life or saving babies. If it were, we’d have paid maternity leave, universal healthcare, affordable childcare, and an excellent public education system, none of which we have. It’s about misogyny and everything that falls under that umbrella: control; objectification and enslavement of the female body into a vessel that will provide (and I quote from the Alito draft) a “domestic supply of infants;” fear, jealousy, hatred, and lust over the female body; male rage; and policing sex.
I stopped at a red light on Van Brunt Street next to the Tesla dealership, just before an empty, desolate stretch between Red Hook and the Brooklyn Bridge Park. A truck pulled up next to me. “Mamacita!” I heard, if vaguely.
My AirPods were set to transparency mode to hear better, but I’m both half deaf and had just started listening to the Guy Raz “How I Built This” interview with Amanda Hesser, because I’d had a meeting with my new friend Francesca the previous day, during which we hatched our devious plan to attack misogyny at its root and make women feel seen and heard in a way that will require both of us to figure out how to run a company. Here the two of us are, minutes after we’d finished our initial plan-hatching. We’d asked the server to take a photo documenting the day of our company’s inception, but it was shot at the precise moment I suddenly realized I was wearing my “I had an abortion” T-shirt.
The catcalls from the cab of the truck grew louder. “Mamacita! Mamacita!” I turned to see the two men in the front of the truck sticking their tongues between their fingers and flicking it up and down in that universal gesture that means, “I want to lick your clitoris.”
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Ladyparts to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.