Saturday, May 06, 2006

Womanly

I thought that this post from my knitting blog might be equally pertinent here: With all the spring fervor percolating lately, Madrigaia (Viva Voce) has found its way back into the CD rotation. This is an incredibly talented seven woman vocal / percussion group from Winnipeg. What I love about them is the voluptuous, raw womanly energy that permeates their songs - the very antithesis of insipid, male-created girly pop. The album never fails to remind me of a pivotal experience in my sense of what it means to be a woman. It was a bridal shower, given by a patient of mine in honor of her eldest daughter. She was Syrian, a single mother and devout Muslim who had taken her children and fled for her life from a bad marriage. The majority of the guests were women who had immigrated from Pakistan, India, and other Aisian and Middle Eastern countries. These were not women with easy lives - many were my patients, and I had spent a great deal of time observing and working through the pain and isolation of cultural restrictions magnified by language barriers. Many had non-specific chronic pain conditions that I believe were their only viable means of expressing distress.In that hall though, filled only with women, they seemed lighter - embracing, laughing - Sikh, Muslim, Hindu - there were no barriers. We shared a wonderful feast... and then the dancing began. I suppose it would properly be termed belly dancing, but it was not about costumes - it was spontaneous, unselfconscious, joyful, and thoroughly, vocally, loud. I was drawn into a sense of strength and community that I had never before experienced. My constricted, "escape oppression through achievement" idea of feminism had never entertained the possibility that being "womanly" could be anything but a state of socially imposed deficiency. I felt at once ashamed for having underestimated them, and tremendously privileged to be included in such a sisterhood. I began to see myself and the women I cared for with new eyes, and to celebrate things womanly. I began to see the tremendous creative power in childbirth, and the curvaceous beauty of milk filled breasts nourishing a child. Lately, I have also dared to express these things artistically, though not without a slightly anxious glance over my shoulder at my conservative upbringing.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Ruth...I loved your blog of May 6th...very insightful. I'm sorry to bug you on your "work" blog, but I'm not sure if your e-mail is working. I sent 2 messages to Rob & you, one on Apr 26 & one on May 3 about Dad and I haven't received a reply to either. Did you receive the messages? If you did, maybe you could get Rob to reply to me. Thx kindly. love Kerri

Lee Ann said...

I don't know why Bloglines chose to update your last six posts on this blog, but I choose to see it as all about getting me to listen to Madrigaia. I've been feeling lower than low lately, and the French songs on this album, especially, for some reason, are making me feel a hell of a lot better. Thank you, Ruth.