It may sound funny… like something straight out of your undergraduate women’s studies course, something coined by that mannish – yet technically female professor – who openly hated on you because you wore sundresses. However funny it sounds, and funny it is to think of a man actually being envious of a menstrual cycle, womb envy and vagina envy are all too real. Not only are they real anxieties and syndromes, they’re age-old and insidiously prolific in human societies.
Need a quick and decent breakdown of womb and vagina envy? Wikipedia actually offers a decent and succinct summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Womb_and_vagina_envy#cite_note-Horney_1967-1
Unfortunately, womb envy and vagina envy are a real problem – a threat – to women in the 21st century. As our millennial generation struggles with the economy and the broken world we’re inheriting, we also struggle with misogynists who undermine or outright devalue and degrade both womanhood and motherhood. And, yes, I do believe much of this hatred and demoralization stems from these envies. Religion and culture does play a huge role, but what’s motivating the misogyny coming out of religions and cultures?
As early as five years old, I knew men were jealous of this mysterious thing that’s childbirth. I noticed the glaring hostility that men had toward a mother’s bond with her infant throughout my childhood. Often invidiously encouraged from supposed friends and family members, one father went so far as to throw tantrums when his wife breastfed her newborn. After three months of enduring these inappropriate fits, guilt-tripping, and threats, she had to switch to formula all because the father wasn’t content to be a father. He aimed to slowly chisel away at a mother’s colossal role in the infancy of her baby. And just not any mother, but the very one who should have been then most important person to him. She loved him so much as to have a child with him, and his response is to treat her as an incubator. This wasn’t just one isolated incident that my childhood friends and I saw, it’s just one of many instances of womb and vagina envy.
This very disregard and insensitivity to what women experience in pregnancy and parturition, as well as the denial of inherent maternal rights, is a staple message sent to kids growing up in a Catholic subculture in some small, backwater Southern town. Catholicism is the perfect carrier for this form of psychosis. Just the dogma of the Catholic Church not only demeans women by stripping us of a voice, familial place, and reproductive rights, but it demonizes the role of motherhood via:
- Idolization of a magic sky god as true and only parent. (Actually, this is all monotheistic, patriarchal religions.)
- Complete male-dominated priesthood. Even the convents are indoctrinated to be chauvinistic and accountable to male rule. (See The Magdalene Sisters)
- Demonizing sex in itself, any and all contraception, abortion, maternal heath, etc.
- The female body is viewed as vile and dirty. Anything feminine – be it beauty or talent – is undermined, dismissed and/or derided.
- Women are considered natural resources and incubators – the ultimate doormat for a silly, stupid, violent, psychopathic, sadistic, sky god. (Again, the above is pretty much true of all monotheistic, patriarchal religions.)
- Depicting “Mary” as a pawn and anti-role model for girls and women.
As an adult, I’ve seen my girl friends suffer at the hands of a patriarchal legal system that grants men custody to a woman’s nursing newborn. There is nothing more ugly than wrenching a baby from its mother’s arms. Poverty is all the reason a court needs to legally kidnap kid(s). This trend of “father’s rights” needs to finally be called out for what it is – vagina envy. Much of Western Europe supports motherhood whereas America, supposed land of the free and protected by a Constitution, demeans and bullies mothers. Maternity leave is not protected and federally backed due in part to the whining of jealous men and female chauvinistic pigs. Federal social programs for mommies, such as the French and Finnish models, protects women from poverty/poor socioeconomic status as well as ends dependency on abusive men and relationships.
Yes, women can be terrible to women too. Misogyny is not just a male hobby. Just as there are male feminists, there are plenty of female misogynists. From the majority of Republican women to extreme neo-liberal feminists, there’s a number of female bullies who gleefully (and jealously) attack and betray other women. After all, it was a female attorney who wrote the book on how to legally gain custody (legally kidnap) a women’s babies. But this paragraph is a subject for another post.
Womb envy and vagina envy also prompts politicians to invade the privacy and personal autonomy of women’s health. These anxieties and psychoses are a societal sickness that permeates all cultures, classes, professions, and religions. The threshold of life – the uterus – is either vilified or demeaned as some sort of public interest when it’s simply another organ. Reproductive organs are not public parking garages. No one has the right to an individual’s body parts. Personal autonomy is reproductive rights, and reproductive rights are basic, inalienable, human rights.
Ladies, feel free to use my lecture: “Women give birth. We do all the work and endure all the pain. And no pain, no gain. That great turd you birthed on the porcelain throne is in not comparable to childbirth, nor is it the awesome accomplishment you list it as on your resume. We experience all the lifelong hassle and pain associated not only with menstrual cycles, but the strain and potential health risks of pregnancy, then the excruciating gore of birth. You have no rights to my baby that supersede my own. Those five, frantic pumps of all pleasure that you did on top of me earns you nothing. I am the mother; I outrank you.” Mic drop.
What would I recommend to these misogynists? To a man experiencing womb and/or vagina envy: Seek therapy or have a sex change. It’s okay to be transgender according to today’s amoral society. If your issue is latency, step on out of the closet! It’s the 21st century already. To a female chauvinistic pig: Deal with your issues of self-loathing without making a debacle of your hypocritical self.