When helping Adam move his stuff out of The Revolving Door Commune, after helping to load the truck at our house, I was asked to watch the truck on the other end as Adam, his dad, Zach, and Jeramy carried all of Adam’s things up the five flights of stairs to his new place. At first, I felt bad. I watched as the guys got progressively more sweaty and winded as they hauled things out of the truck and into the building. I thought about offering to alternate with any one of them. I’m a sturdy girl. I helped load the truck, after all, and I’m capable of carrying a pretty heavy load on my own. Earlier, when loading the truck, I kept asking what needed to be moved, ready and able to help with any of the big pieces, and asking if help was needed when I heard struggling with a bed, or a desk. To their credit, the guys had it covered. However, when Adam originally asked for my help, he framed it in such a way that he, his father, and Zach would carry the heavy things, and Lindsay and I would help with the lighter boxes. I thought that was odd, since my father and I had moved me into this place, and I carried the heavy stuff as well as the light. I expected to be of more use. Yet, whenever I offered to help with something large, I got no response. Either they didn’t hear me, or they didn’t see the point in switching one of them out with me when carrying heavy things.
Then, I was assigned truck-watching duty on the other end of the move, and after I felt guilty about not helping, I got miffed about “not being allowed” to help. I was insulted, because I didn’t want to be seen as incapable.
But as I sit here today with menstrual cramps eating away at my insides, watching a Little House on the Prairie marathon, a thought occurred to me that made me realize I had it all wrong.
I realized that women are constantly in pain. Like, ALL THE TIME. This shouldn’t be news to any of you, but for those of you who didn’t pay attention in Health Class, or Biology, women get their periods every month. That means that once a month, they experience a kind of pain that you can’t really understand unless you’ve experienced it. The closest way I can think to explain it is to say that it’s as if a gremlin – not Gizmo, but his fed-after-midnight brethren – were sleeping in the middle of your body, and once a month, that gremlin wakes up and starts gnawing on your entrails for a day or two. What’s more, the gremlin has decided it doesn’t like where anything is arranged, so it’s pulling on everything at once, putting pressure on your lower back and making that hurt. So, while this gremlin is wreaking havoc on your insides, you’re expected to suck it up. Why? Because it happens EVERY MONTH. The novelty wore off sometime around the time you were, like, thirteen, and no one cares anymore about your complaining. Not fellow women, who know the drill and are bored with it themselves; and certainly not men, who are vaguely frightened and/or annoyed by the whole enterprise. So we take pills to ease the pain and spend a day or two in agony. And for what?
So that, at some undetermined point, we can push an 8 pound human being out of our genitals. Yay?
So basically, every single time you look at a woman, there’s a 1 or 2 in 30 chance that she’s in excruciating pain and just not saying anything about it. And it’s all for the pleasure of having her body hijacked for 9 months to push out an entire human being in another fit of pain.
So I’ve been thinking about this all wrong. Just because a woman CAN carry heavy things – and we can – doesn’t mean we SHOULD. So, no. I DON’T feel bad about not carrying heavy boxes when I don’t have to, because I spend a good chunk of my life in excruciating pain. You know what, guys? YOU can carry the heavy shit. Does this make me some kind of a bad feminist? Maybe. But I don’t care. What I DO care about is getting my hands on some ice cream or chocolate, PRONTO.