The Timeline of Being a Woman

Political activist Lisa Muggeridge chronicles the ways culture, politics and society combine to control women's lives.

Opression, feminism

Baby dressed in pink. Little girl placed in dresses, told to play nice and give way.

Sugar and spice, all things nice and don’t hit back. Taught to please and placate. Teenage girl attractive to grown men, told to shove it down as they grope, harass or abuse you. You are so powerful they have no control, but you are not allowed the power to decide they can’t. You will be blamed when they do. Sexual autonomy is the privilege of but a small percentage of women on the planet.

You will be taught this way how to perform womanhood and it will include clothes and make up which you may want, but will have to have even if you don’t. Periods start. Calendars were probably not invented by men, who have no need to count a 28 day cycle. That’s yours. And that 28 day cycle punctuated by bleeding and pain will mark out your life until you are deemed useless. timeline of being a woman

Become sexually active. Artificial hormones to control your reproductive cycle if you are lucky, repeated pregnancy if you are not. This will be so normal you won’t notice it. A fish does not notice water. The refusal to be ashamed of any and all parts of this timeline mark you out as troublesome.

You can choose not to have a baby but you will be abused for this choice. You may retain your earnings potential but you will still suffer discrimination because women have babies. You can not opt out. You may be unable to have a baby, and this you will mourn like a death, while society judges your selfishness and failure to perform womanhood. You will be expected to compete with and hate women who made choices you didn’t. Solidarity with women to be discouraged at every juncture.

Then comes the attempt to have a baby. Understanding ovulation, and how that cycle of bleeding and pain creates life. Carrying a baby that appears from nothing after the sex you are supposed to be ashamed of. Hips dislocating to hold it, organs squishing up so your stomach is at the top of your chest, permanent indigestion as well as the vomiting, the piles, the acne, the vulnerability to kidney infections. A human being appears inside your body. Pregnancy is the point at which your body becomes the site of three people’s interests: the father, the baby, and you. You, meanwhile, are from now on the last person to be considered in discussions of your body. Which belongs to everyone. You will have a child’s lifetime before you are to be allowed autonomy over your own life and body again.

Labour. Praying for death while a baby’s back lies on the inside of your spine, not just for minutes but hours. You will have to fight for any atom of autonomy over your body and choices from the moment you get pregnant. That fight teaches you to be a parent. Birth. Nature takes away all control over when you sleep and eat. If you breastfeed, your breasts will guide this process and even if your baby is not there they will tell you that baby needs to be fed or has woken up. Only the love for your baby will allow this process to happen, because it is the chemical which says you love them that produces the milk they need to grow.

The first year of that baby’s life is learning that your needs are truly not important in the slightest. Suppression of your basic needs becomes the norm. Your need to eat, your need to sleep, your need to be ill, will be decided by whether a baby or child’s needs have been met first. This does not stop. Ever. There is no off switch on a baby.

The off switch on a pregnancy will see you treated as a murderer.

This is viewed by economists as distraction from the labour market that really doesn’t like mothers. You will have to manage this responsibility 24 hours a day and the hours that you are at work you will have to pay someone to take on PART of that responsibility. That labour and that lack of participation in the labour market will mean you are first port of call for other unpaid work and are likely to end up with care of others. You are more likely to end up caring for elderly relatives than your male contemporaries.

This unpaid labour creates poverty and not only impacts your state pension but also your chance of having a private pension. You may get full earning years until you procreate, you will not for a long time after and the rest of your life will be playing catch up. For the period you cannot earn, the state will abuse you if you are not married because your only worth is as someone’s dependent. This dependence at the root of why two women a week die at the hands of partners or ex-partners.

You will, throughout your life, be vulnerable to assault, male pattern violence, and constantly told that your identity has to be dictated by the men in your life. You will have to fight against this. Your baby will create your identity as a mother and the men in your life, from your employer to your partner, will dictate how you are seen by others.

Trans women are women. If they are taking the shit to live like women, they are. That trans women need feminism does not mean that trans women have now earned the right to dictate the identity of the world’s women by virtue of ruling that feminism. Women are the producers of children and are required to make sure that children are not used as an extension of people’s needs. Mothers are the last line of defence for children, because no-one else will do it. Trans women needing feminism doesn’t make children objects in their identity to be changed at will. This includes when people try to normalise drastic medical treatment that kids don’t need. Trans women needing feminism does not make possessing sperm pregnancy, and erasing a surrogate doesn’t become reproductive justice.

You are legally obliged to protect and provide for that child and as a mother to put their needs first, always, and it is assumed that legislation should not be required because mostly it is not. The full force of the state will be down on you if you cannot do this, even if it is the state that removed your ability to do so, to encourage you into the bed of a man. You will be required to protect your children from male violence and you will be blamed for any harm that is done by men.

This timeline has not stopped now that trans women are learning to perform aspects of womanhood in much the way you were taught (society only accepting them if they appear ‘passable’ to men). Feminism cannot be rewritten to pretend this isn’t the case, because this is women’s lives, and what feminism is about.

This timeline never stops because this is how the economy, society and the human race is produced, reproduced, and maintained. The world actually ends if it doesn’t happen. Women’s fight for autonomy within this timeline has barely begun. Women claiming the power this gives them are as nameless a fear as the monster under the bed. If you have a daughter this is what her timeline will look like and you will guide her through it and prepare her for it. For many women this has been the cruelest part of their timeline. The demand that this be erased from feminism is the same demand women have faced for millennia. Put up, shut up, and have your identity dictated by whoever chooses while you remain silent about the role imposed on your sexed body.

If you deviate from this, if you question your role, refuse to be a doormat or refuse to be ashamed, if you assert the power it gives you, not only will you face the wrath of the world, but right now you will face the wrath of ‘feminism’ (which has morphed in a male media into another way to silence and abuse women so that this timeline is not discussed) and we pretend that it is nothing to do with womanhood.

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