“Man can never know the loneliness a woman knows. Man lies in the woman’s womb only to gather strength, he nourishes himself from this fusion, and then he rises and goes into the world, into his work, into battle, into art. He is not lonely. He is busy. The memory of the swim in amniotic fluid gives him energy, completion. Woman may be busy too, but she feels empty. Sensuality for her is not only a wave of pleasure in which she is bathed, and a charge of electric joy at contact with another. When man lies in her womb, she is fulfilled, each act of love a taking of man within her, an act of birth and rebirth, of child rearing and man bearing. Man lies in her womb and is reborn each time anew with a desire to act, to be. But for woman, the climax is not in the birth, but in the moment man rests inside of her.”-Anaïs Nin (The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934)
Womanhood is transferred from grandmother to mother and mother to daughter. Through generations the pattern of a specific type of womanhood has wandered through the regenerating family and in case it’s unwholesome and self-denigrating it may very well be challenged and altered for the better. How compatible is a great-grandmother’s womanhood from the 20th century with a daughter’s from the 21st century?
It is a sad fact that oftentimes girls are raised, not in solidarity and support amongst themselves, but as attention and approval-seeking competitors crumbling in the shadow of boys, bowing to their sex and denying their own. Bearing in mind Nin’s scenario, if this shapeshifting womanhood entails in itself an inherited misogyny, what is thereby transferred upon the boy who exits this conflicted woman’s body after nine months?
The female body with the bleeding wound and the male body with the additional extremity set the relational terrain. Woman’s body is familiar with pain from the very beginning, with loss and trauma. Confronted with an omnipresent angst of being reclaimed, besieged, absorbed and robbed of what she consists of. Is she the stoic, ever-accessible, engulfing, sheltering and strength-giving vessel where the dependant man gathers his life-force from by visiting occasionally? Who is this man who cannot find his own energy within himself and in the worst case scenario intrudes what is not his?
Who is this woman who remains, voided of herself, emptied of her energy that she herself regenerates every time man steals it from her, who picks herself up every time she is dropped like a doll? Why is this transcendent act so painful in its aftermath? What can she take and derive from it, from him? Is it her agency to hold him? Is he the missing piece that makes her whole, guiding her back to the original state of inherited motherhood? Does he determine who she is when he visits and if so does her identity change as her lovers alter?
What power is given to this man who deconstructs as she reconstructs.