That Bonnie Burstow quote:
Often father and daughter look down on mother (woman) together. They exchange meaningful glances when she misses a point. They agree that she is not bright as they are, cannot reason as they do. This collusion does not save the daughter from the mother's fate.
On the porch, I wondered if, one day, all my bad patterns would become salient, then enumerated to a future daughter. The sun in limbo in the bright middle of the afternoon. Dandelions, yet to unfurl, taking root between the steps.
I wonder if manhood is transcendent, womanhood fatalistic. We exalt fathers for successfully reproducing his will. We talk about pregnancy like it’s like being held captive in your own body. Brace for the nausea, the incontinence, the weight gain. The ensuing cellulite, the clinical depression, the potential loss in IQ. This is just what a cis, heterosexual woman has to endure if she chooses to have a child, which is almost predetermined.
Every girl I know has joked, if my career doesn’t work out I’ll just go find a rich husband. I haven’t read Ottessa Moshfegh’s novels yet but people online say her protagonists are existentially lethargic. In Pure Heroines, Jia Tolentino writes that young heroines in children’s literature are so self-evidently brave, but older female protagonists are characterized by their suffering foremost. The language we use to talk about women’s outcomes is of resignation, exhaustion, bitterness.
My mother dreamed of being a career woman, a term that indicates the dichotomy of female destinies. You either achieve or you raise a child. Then in her late 20s she chose to have children. She remembers everything from my childhood with vivid precision. She took joy in making our beds, folding the laundry, putting a juice box and a tupperware of sliced fruits in a shimmery lunchbag — all the little ceremonies of housekeeping. She talks about it everyday. Inequality can be so pedestrian. Sometimes it’s baroque, but sometimes it’s the life we love, even miss.
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