As a kid, I learned that a ‘woman’ was expected to fulfill certain functions that a person in a wheelchair could never fill. The specific functions weren’t as important as the idea that womanhood was defined by society. In the same way that, according to society, I was defined by my wheelchair. A wheelchair cant be a woman, so I would not grow up to be a woman, I was going to have to figure something else out.
Today, as we celebrated the achievements of women, reflected on the struggle for equality, and shared representations of womanhood that reflected our actual experiences and defied the untenable ideals, I thought of my childhood logic and how being exempted from the social precepts of womanhood was disorienting, but strangely liberating. Perhaps liberation is inherently disorienting, as you unmoor from familiar anchor points. And then what do we link up to as we hedge the feminist frontier? For me, I have found solid roots in collaborative visions and creations with other women as we take up space together.
My chair pops in this splash of colour by @butterflymush- it’s wheelchair as objet d’art (her work is a steady revel in the accomplishments of incredible women - go check her page out!)
Normally when she does portraits, she does a closeup of the face and had never painted a wheelchair before, until Jenna asked her too. We stoke power in each other when we see each other, really see.
In the end, My chair *did* kind of define my ideal of womanhood. By simply and always being what I needed it to be.
I want a world that is that spacious and safe and supportive for all women.
Happy International Women's Day!