While anger is an appropriate and I believe needed response to the injustice of legislation that prevents rightful bodily autonomy, I’m reflecting on our self-responsibility, as women, in all things body-related.
I’m reflecting on a bigger picture, our long history of our bodies being objectified, as a ‘thing’ to be controlled and managed, – whether sexually or medically – and I’m daring to wonder if we have played a role in the tragic consequences of this, through our own disembodiment.
Yes, there is so much to be angry about, and we need our anger to catalyse action that will create change! I’m angry about the complete lack of underfunding in women’s health and the massive suffering this causes. About the FDA historically removing women in child-baring age from their research, meaning that pretty much all medication has been designed for men with an utter disregard for how it might affect us differently. About only a tiny minority of medical schools formally integrating gender differences into their curriculum..
I’m raging over the ‘trust gap’: the disbelief in women’s symptoms and tendency to ignore them. I’m raging over the ways our female ancestors had to be told they were ‘hysterical’ (originates from the Greek word for uterus) a label which for centuries was pretty much applied to any mysterious symptoms in women.
I’m angry about about the average of four years it takes to diagnose a woman with Endometriosis, when it affects 3 in 10 women and the complete lack of understanding the average doctor has about this condition, as well as fibroids (30-40% of women) and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (10% of women). And what about the the six hundred thousand hysterectomies (the entire removal of the womb) which are performed each year in the United States alone, commonly recommended for menstrual irregularities and even benign ovarian cysts or masses, without addressing root causes or giving serious consideration to other possibilities.
Let’s use our rage on all the women-related injustices in the world to demand equality and justice and better education and research. And let the world know that the days of men calling the shots over our health and our bodies are over.
And yet external change is only part of the solution. We need to own our self-responsibility and collectively transform the level of self-care and knowledge we have to our own bodies and sense of reverence for them. We need to understand how we are different as women – as cyclical beings – and honour the different way we weave in the world.
If I had been connected to my body as the divine and precious and wise instrument it is, I would not have allowed a doctor to prescribe the pill to me at 16 years of age to simply mask my menstruation symptoms and disrupt my cyclical nature in what Scientific American recently called “the largest uncontrolled medical experiment on women in history.”
I would not have allowed myself to be put under a general anaesthetic in my twenties, to have a coil surgically inserted, creating a traumatised cervix and a life of painful sex as a consequence.
I believe there has never been a more important time to educate ourselves and develop an intimate, vibrant, dynamic relationship with the complexity and sacredness of our bodies. While female health related injustices are being increasingly called out, and perhaps in some generations time will be a thing of the past, let’s not ignore our responsibility in revolutionising our level of embodiment and self-care. The more attuned to and knowledgeable we are to our own bodies, the more empowered we are to make wise choices, and the more we can guide and inspire others, including our struggling and outdated health systems.