Motherhood & Words

There is something that’s been bubbling under the surface these last few weeks, something born from a combination of anger and fear and hope. I’ve been reading Shari MacDonald Strong’s The Maternal is Political and Caroline Grant’s and Elrena Evan’s Mama, PhD. How amazing to read these books side by side. There is power there, between them. I can almost see it, like a charge of electricity, reaching from one anthology to the other, bridging distance and time and experience. And as so often happens to me when I’m reading, once thoughts begin to percolate, more writing pops up to speak to me, and connections are made. I want to direct you to a friend’s blog. A couple of days ago, Lynne Marie wrote a post called “Mind Body Mama: Get Your Self Defense On.” This is how her post begins:

“I’ve been thinking about instincts this week. And how mine are fundamentally altered by my twenty-one year practice of self defense.

It wasn’t long ago that I congratulated a sister martial artist on practicing “kick-ass self defense” when she stood up for herself in a professional situation. I don’t know her well enough to interpret her surprise at that nomenclature, but she did sound surprised. I fear she shares the misapprehension that it doesn’t count as self defense unless there’s some kind of physical beat-down, or at least a physical threat. I hear that a lot.

Self defense is what we do to take care of ourselves and the people we love. In the very best cases it’s what we do before or instead of getting hurt. Lots of times it’s what we do in the midst of being attacked—emotionally, spiritually, sexually or physically. And too often it’s what we have to do after we’ve been hurt: the long road of healing and taking action so that the same hurt doesn’t happen again to ourselves or others.

Twenty-one years studying martial arts and self defense in a feminist, social-justice, anti-racist and anti-violence context has changed me. I don’t think like normal people any more. That’s a good thing.”

A good thing, indeed. If you want to read Lynne Marie’s full post, visit her blog, Mind Body Mama. I’ll be writing more about The Maternal is Political and Mama, PhD in the next few weeks, but in the meantime, I’m going to get my self-defense on. How about you?

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.

1 Comment

  1. ~Denise~ on April 12, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Thank you for sharing…I’m adding those to my reading list. Sounds like I’ll enjoy them.