My midline was basketball-shaped last August at Bread Loaf when I first learned of VIDA, formerly WILA (Women in Literary Arts). Their t-shirt, which I'm wearing as I write this (and my itty-bit is wearing her vday shirt, so we were V's together but not on purpose, just what happened to rise to the top of the wicked laundry pile) even has the tagline across the back: Women in Literary Arts / Sorry!
Most certainly not! I thought.
I felt the cheekiness of it, the snarky sarcasm, but I still bristled.
And promptly bought an extra-large to fit around my growing trunk.
I was a Women's Studies minor as an undergraduate. The requirements were loose, so I loaded up on the literature-based courses: LGBT lit (where we read Stone Butch Blues and Herculin Barbin), a minority women's literature that focused on mysteries, the rhythmically titled Women and Madness in History and Literature (a particular favorite of mine).
And then I got my M.Ed and taught high school. And then I got a mortgage and a husband. And then I went to school for an MFA.
And then I had a baby girl.
And since then, I've been trying to figure out who I am as a feminist. What my new definition is. How my reshaping has reshaped my vocabulary. It's important to me, not only as a reader and writer, but also as a mother of a growing girl. A mother who is working on a manuscript that examines (in)fertility, women's bodies, the societal pressures of gestation, ideality versus actuality, language and expectations.
There's something about reappropriation. I gleefully chanted Cunt! in the many Februarys of producing The Vagina Monologues. I can reclaim sorry too.
I remember violin lessons as a teenager and how I'd apologize to my instructor every time I flubbed. He'd scold me for this, and for not meeting his eye when he spoke to me. It was deference, but I didn't know how to explain that to him. Not disrespect, not teenage insolence. A humbling.
I'm not ready to shout sorry! into the island air, as the protagonists of my escape reading have been doing. I'm not sure what that would mean yet. But I know I don't want my itty bit to apologize for ambition or passion.
So I'm not sorry about wanting to write poems. Or stay at home with her. And that's a start.
Cross-posted on roots + wings.