“Nobody’s Daughter” by Hole, Suspiria (2018) dir. Luca Guadagnino, Winter of Artifice by Anaïs Nin, “Fast as You Can” by Fiona Apple, The Hunger (1983) dir. Tony Scott, The Veiled Woman by Anaïs nin, “Feed” by Soccer Mommy, "Mother" by the Police
relic (2020) • the monstrous feminine by barbara creed • drag me to hell (2009) • hags out of their skins by joe ross • hereditary (2018) • the monstrous feminine by barbara creed • the lords of salem (2012)
talk to me about women being "monstrous" or broken because they can't have kids?
what could be more monstrous than a woman who does not exist—who cannot exist—to be filled by a man’s desires, purposes, dreams?
motherhood is the goal, of course. motherhood is the ultimate aspiration. we’re swimming through it, still, with every question a couple gets about when they’re planning to have kids; and with every woman who gets passed over for a job or a promotion because, statistically, she’s going to go on mat leave as soon as she has some stable employment and isn’t that just a waste of resources; and with every article about how you, too, can have a career and a family and it all; and with every woman who gets denied the hysterectomy or ooectomy she needs because she is so young, still, and she can’t possibly know what she’ll want in the future; and with…
because a woman is a vessel to be filled by her father, and then a woman is a vessel to be filled by her husband, and then a woman is a vessel filling over for her children. (the yonic chalice, from which to drink.)
strip away motherhood, and what is left?
not a woman, certainly, because women aren’t creatures that exist in their own right.
(what else must be lacking from her if she is lacking the essentials? what else is left to her if she is lacking the essentials?)
a monster, then. a creature in the shape of a woman.
not to say that there are not monstrous mothers; horror is filled with closetfuls of monstrous mothers. because gestation and birth and motherhood are all bloody with horror (every birth is a future death, of course, and isn’t there something monstrous in creation—god’s purview—being the domain of women?).
and this is also not to say that narratives cannot be reclaimed. they can and should and are. but there can be no reclamation without criticality, and it is the harsh truth that there are no narratives we can reclaim that are without blemish, without hurt, without deeply rooted violence and grief. (you cannot worship athena in all her wisdom and grace, and not reckon with how she cursed her priestess to disfigurement, banishment, and death, for the crime of her rape.) when we blind ourselves to injustices, we render ourselves incapable of fighting injustice.
and, of course, there’s always the inescapable fact that terfs equate womanhood with the womb. but i’m sure that’s a coincidence and very logical and not at all drenched in transphobia and misogyny.
Women, long regarded as the lodestars of excess, are eyed like shape-shifters with the power to transform into Medusa. But I've since realized that there is power in what others call monstrosity. Our refusal to abide, to prioritize the comfort of the West's hegemonic governance, lays bare the rickety scaffolding of culture's so-called behavioral norms. The roots of rules are never so deep that they cannot be wrenched from the soil; man-made boundaries remain at the mercy of the creatures who erected them. For when we are Too Much — and when we refuse to apologize for that — we burst against those walls and marvel as they give way like sand.
Rachel Vorona Cote, Too Much: How Victorian Constraints Still Bind Women Today
There is a joking saying that ‘Love is homesickness’; and whenever a man dreams of a place or a country and says to himself, while he is still dreaming: ‘this place is familiar to me, I’ve been here before,’ we may interpret the place as being his mother’s genitals or her body.