The Prodigal Uterus

With the amount of misinformation that is spread about the female body and with forced birthers in the Supreme Court gearing up to get rid of Roe v Wade, I’d like to share some excerpts from the book “Woman: An Intimate Geography.” By Natalie Angier the Pulitzer Prize winning writer and science journalist.

For centuries, the female body has been (often intentionally) clouded in mystery. Hippocrates’ fundamental mistakes in understanding of the female body dictated scientific and medical (mis)understanding of it for years and years. But now, much more is understood. Just for the sake of it, let’s delve into some fun facts and explorations of the female body’s unique internal features, particularly the uterus.

The non-pregnant uterus is about the size of a child’s fist. The ovaries are the size of a strawberry. The clitoris is a complex network, and is like an iceberg in the sense that there is much more below the surface than you can see. (The full anatomy of the clitoris was only “discovered” in 1998.)

In her chapter titled “the Prodigal Uterus” Angier writes, “The war of the womb continues to this day. One of our most bellicose and indefatigable of issues, the abortion debate, distilled to a question of who owns the uterus, woman or fetus (or fetal proxy such as the church or state.)”

“The womb does not define a woman, philosophically, biologically, or even etymologically. A woman does not need to be born with a uterus to be a woman, nor does she have to keep her uterus to remain a woman. We don’t want to fall into the trap of womb-worship, or hope that men suffer from womb envy…Having said all of that, I argue that the uterus was and is a magnificent invention, a revolution in physiology…”

“More recently, the uterus has emerged as a maker as well as a taker. Yes, it responds to steroid hormones from ovaries and other organs, but it also expresses hormones and releases them into the global marketplace of the body. It makes proteins, sugars, and fats… the uterus also fabricates drugs that in other contexts would be illegal. It synthesizes and secretes beta-endorphins and dynorphins, two of the body’s natural opiates and chemical cousins to morphine and heroin.”

“[The uterus] makes anandamide, a molecule almost identical to the active ingredients in marijuana. Until recently, these compounds were thought to be exclusive property of the central nervous system- the brain and spinal cord…The uterus produces at least as much opiate material as neural tissue does, and makes ten times more of the cannabis equivalent than any other organ of the body does.”

In other words, the uterus secretes feel good chemicals and hormones, just like the brain does. How amazing is that?

I haven’t entirely decided what my purpose or my argument in this blog post is other than to exemplify the incredible nature of the female body and to state unequivocally that woman/person with the womb, owns the womb. There is still so much that is unknown about the female body, but at its very simplistic form, woman/ person with the womb, owns the womb. The uterus serves a purpose beyond growing life. It secretes chemicals that are necessary to the well-being of the woman/person with it. We own our wombs. We own our reproduction AND our decision to avoid it. It is a nature-given gift and burden. Let it continue to be our decision to make.

A Few Female Titles to Distract You from Quarantine

If you are looking for some more female friendly shows or books to catch up on, here are a few more recommendations. Enjoy! Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker. This Netflix series is fantastic! It is based on the real life of Madam C.J. Walker (played by Octavia Spencer) who is known as the first female self-made millionaire in the United States. She is powerful, driven and a complex character. The series was fascinating and a joy to watch. Below is a photo of the real Madam C.J. Walker in her car with friends. Madam C. J. Walker - HISTORY

Red, White & Royal Blue: A Novel - Kindle edition by McQuiston ...

2.) Red, White and Royal Blue. This New York Times Bestseller book, written by Casey McQuiston, is a page turner. I just finished it for my feminist book club and it has it all: Humor, politics, a woman president of the U.S and a sexy romance between the First Son and the Prince of England at the center of the book. It was a great distraction from quarantine.

3.) Crip Camp: This documentary takes you on a journey from a camp for teenagers with disabilities all the way to a revolution. It highlights the amazing accomplishments of the disability rights activists during and after the civil rights movement. The film was

How Judy Heumann Found Her Voice As a Disability Rights Activist ...released under the banner of Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions. It features Judith Huemann, a powerful activist and polio survivor, who fought tirelessly to lead the campaign for basic rights and for the Americans with Disabilities Act. I was shocked by some of the things people with disabilities had to endure before the ADA. This movement truly has not had near enough light shed on it that it needs. This film makes the Disability Revolution more visible and highlights one of the amazing women behind it. 

4.) Suffragette: 2020 marks our 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in the United States! Although this movie takes place in Britain, it is still a great way to celebrate this victory for womankind. The movie is a thrilling look into the world of what it was like for Suffragette: Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter ...women fighting for the vote in the early 1900s in Britain. Starring Meryl Streep as the infamous Emmeline Pankhurst, this film was a good refresher for me to remember what our foremothers had to endure in order for future generations like mine to be able to vote. Women in the United States, just like in Britain, had to endure years and years (it took 72 years to get the vote in the U.S) of humiliation and violence (like being force fed) but these incredible women made it a right for us to vote today. Thank you to our British and American women who fought for us!




This Little Book Has it All

Have you ever wished you could find a book that succinctly describes feminism today and why we still very much need it? This book, We Should All Be Feminists, accomplishes just that. It touches on a plethora of topics and gives you the words to describe what you’ve always been thinking but couldn’t always articulate. And it’s a great, quick resource for you ladies and guys out there who would like to know, what’s the big deal about feminism. I highly recommend it. For every conversation with family members, friends, or strangers who don’t get feminism, I wish I could just pull this little book out and say, “Here, just read this.”

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Photo credit: Julia View

Check it out! It’s a quick read: I read it in about 20 minutes, it’s that succinct and fantastic. I was reading it while waiting for my clothes to dry at the laundry mat and was trying not to yell out my approval, since I was in public. But if I did, I would have stood up in my chair at every other sentence and shouted, “Yeah!” and “Exactly!”and “that’s what I’ve been saying!” and “Gah, right?!!”

There’s a reason this is the book that all 16- year-old students, male and female, are given, for free, in Sweden. This should be required reading for students here in the U.S too, because,

“If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.”- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A Coyote Columbus Story

51-VsdrdEzL._SX391_BO1,204,203,200_For one of my graduate courses, we had a wonderful woman named Kate come in and give a presentation about incorporating Native American traditions and perspectives into the curriculum to create a better balanced and multicultural education for all our students. Although she is originally from a tribe in Alaska, she has become an expert and resource about tribes in Montana and gives presentations to students and teachers and has been doing her job for years and years. She introduced us to a wonderful book titled “A Coyote Columbus Story” that is meant for children and demonstrates a different perspective, not only about Columbus, but about the character of Coyote, who is usually a male, but in this story, she is a female coyote. Kate mentioned she likes this story, specifically because Coyote is a female. In it, it also shows other animals as females in fun ways. Like the moose who wears curlers in her hair. It made me think about how children are so used to seeing character animals represented as males, that some don’t even realize that all animals consist of males and females until they are older.

I recall some former kindergarten students of mine who were shocked when I told them ALL dinosaurs come in male and female varieties. They had assumed that dinosaurs were only male. This is clearly a terrible oversight that students are being taught/not taught otherwise, because it is a clear fallacy, but this misconception also presents females as “not-normal”, and not a complete part of the everyday world. It sets females as the other, a misconception we need to correct by introducing them to books like this.

What is especially interesting about “A Coyote and Columbus Story” is the conversation that ensued with a classmate of mine afterwards. He said he thought the story was biased presenting Columbus as a villain. I had to point out that the, so-called, ‘normal perspective’ on Columbus is, if anything, way more biased, considering Columbus was actually a controversial figure because he raped and pillaged the local people and used them as slaves. I too was a product of my education with regards to these facts until recently, when I attended a rally, calling for Indigenous Day instead of Columbus day.

I recommend this book for the different perspective it offers about Columbus and for the fact that it shows animals as females in books.

Pirate Queens

While roaming around Hawthorne Street in Portland, I stumbled on a wonderful coloring book for girls (and boys) in a toy shop. It features female pirates throughout history. It’s pages contain pirates ranging from Artemesia in 480 BCE to Huang P’EI-ME in the 20th century who, at one point, commanded over 50,000 pirates. This is a great book to demonstrate that interesting characters throughout history aren’t just men. But this book isn’t just great for kiddos. It’s also great for adults. As TIME reports, a tremendous amount of adults are getting into coloring books as a means of relaxation. This coloring book has wonderful little blurbs at the bottom of each page so you can also learn about these kick-ass ladies too.

Whether it’s kiddos coloring, or adults, like myself, jamming to music and coloring, this book is fantastic. You can buy the whole book for 4 bucks here at Dover Publications or you can also get it through Amazon. I love supporting books like this because it says “Check it out! Women protagonists doing interesting things in books will sell!”

It’s an engaging alternative to princesses combing their hair.

Just check this book out:

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When Everything Changed

When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present”51gat8qxLrL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Ok, so I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to non-ficion like this: This book is an incredible capsule of time and a mind-expanding journey, one I think you’re brain will thank you for embarking on. It is salient to know how far (and not so far) we’ve come.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

I seriously could not put this book down. It is about a black woman who had her cells taken from her body when she died of cancer and scientists began experimenting on them in 1951 and are still doing so today. The experiments resulted in the polio vaccine, gene mapping and other incredible advancements in science, all thanks to Ms. Lacks who had no idea; the unsung hero.

I had an astonishing realization while reading this book: I have her to thank essentially for my existence because, if it weren’t for her cells and the experiments they did on them, my grandmother might not have made is through polio. Rebecca Skloot is an outstanding journalist and writer; this book is a page turner.

Additional Note: I contacted Rebecca Skloot telling her how much I loved her book and she personally wrote me back in appreciation. 🙂