I’m struggling this morning to write this post—as I often do when writing to a prompt.
Whose bodies matter?
It’s clear from the evidence all about me that SOME bodies matter more than others in our twisted, broken, racist, sexist, classist, transphobic, heterosexist society—oh yes, layers and layers of hierarchy and pain.
In Trenton, where I work, I keep insisting that #BlackBodiesMatter. That’s not an easy sell.
And I realized that what I was struggling with is that I do not WANT my body to be a site of political wrangling. <eye roll> Bodies are precisely, excruciatingly the site of political wrangling—our core beliefs are worked out in the bodies of ourselves and others. MY core beliefs are worked out in the bodies of others. And my own body. I’m not easy on my own body. Oh yes, hard to write.
Sticks and stones may break my bones
But names will never hurt me
Except they do…the naming of a body shapes the body, gouges the body, scars the body. The spirit and the body are not so easily separated. What you/I do to my mind, my soul, my spirit, is done also to my body.
And my words, my tongue, my fingers typing a million miles an hour across the internet can do DAMAGE. Once, when I was 14, an older girl said to me at dinner, “Katie, you need to watch what you say to people. Your words can really hurt.” And I had no idea what she was talking about.
But I do now, oh yes I do…I have flayed the skin off people over the years with my words. It is a fine art. Nonviolence is sometimes…violent.
And what I know is that my words sharpen when my body is threatened. And in this world, my body is threatened much of the time. Existential threats. Subtle threats. Claims of possession made by others—I own you for this purpose or that. I pay you for this or that. I want you for this or that. You are not your own. Sometimes not so subtle–POW! The taking of a woman’s body without the careful work of consent? How many times, Lord? Seventy times seven?
Slowly, so slowly, I am taking that girl’s advice from all those years ago (almost 30 years!). I am watching my words. I am watching what they mean. I am watching where they come from.
My words tell me that MY body matters
And that I am desperately afraid that it doesn’t
My words tell me that MY body MUST matter
Or else my words will continue to do violence
My-Body matters in all of it’s complicated glory.
My been-around-the-block Body matters, even as those around me speak of the beauty of youth and innocence and purity—I WAS NEVER THOSE THINGS.
I knew a lot young.
Except I didn’t know my body mattered
Beyond being in service to others
Which I resented
Because if it doesn’t
I will not remember that yours does too
The Body is not so easily separated from the Spirit
What we do to each other’s bodies grieves or satisfies the Spirit
What we do to one another, we also do to Christ
What we do to ourselves, we also do to Christ
#MyBodyMatters because it is one in Christ
#MyBodyMatters BECAUSE it is part of the community
#MyBodyMatters because the community cannot be whole if I am not
Originally posted at InsideOuted.