#WomanCentered: AMANDA MANITACH
#WomanCentered is an independent project by conceptual artist and community organizer, Natasha Marin. Inspired by Women at the Center, a project created with support from the United Nations Foundation Universal Access Project. This series of interviews seeks to tell the inspiring, interconnected stories of women’s reproductive health, rights, and empowerment.
How has having or not having children affected the overall trajectory of your life?
Not having children has afforded me the leeway to live scrappy and poor when I have to (as the artist’s life in flux necessitates from time to time). It’s allowed me the luxury of being, as someone recently described it, “downwardly mobile” in terms of making money.
If I had kids, I’d most likely have to work different jobs or be strategically partnered with someone with money. For me, the decision has allowed for professional flexibility, blind obsessiveness, debauchery, intense bursts of time devoted to my work. I could never do that with kids and I’m happy with my choice.
Do you feel pressure to fulfill an idea of womanhood that may/may not correspond to who you actually are? If so, please describe.
I feel pressure to be strong, ambitious, caring, socially conscious, politically active, mindful, invested in justice. Some of these things correspond to who I am.
I feel pressure to cook a good meal. I’m a shitty cook, so this does not correspond to who I am.
I feel pressure to have a nice pussy and the body of a stripper. I have felt this so long I can’t tell if it does or does not correspond to who I am.
I feel pressure to behave and curb my cursing and appetites and inherent lack of moderation, and this does not correspond to who I am.
Do you have advice for other women regarding birth control methods that worked well or didn’t work well for you?
I have only been on two types: the pill and Mirena. The former caused me to struggle with migraines. The latter has been possibly the best thing I ever did for myself. Some women love their periods; I don’t. I haven’t had a period or cramps or PMS in almost four years, which frees up so much physical and mental space.
In 2016, openly discussing one’s reproductive choices is still considered taboo, why do you suppose more women aren’t having these conversations?
I don’t think it’s taboo, just polarizing. So many religious or conservative people just still can’t get over women having control of their bodies, which is gross.
Where are you on the continuum of self-love? On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being Kanye West), how much do you love yourself and how do you reinforce and/or improve this?
I own a decent collection of vibrators and I go to the gym every day. I still have to work pretty hard at self-care and self-love and am so far from Kanye-level feeling myself. I started therapy for the first time last year, which helped a lot. I am trying to be honest with who I want to be and what makes me happy (and not dillydallying about being it or doing it), but that shit gets convoluted so early on in life, it’s harder than you think.
If you could go back in time and give your younger self some vital information or critical education about your body, your overall wellness, or your reproductive health, what would your advice be?
I would tell myself to get an IUD at the age I started menstruating. Also to start therapy around that age too.
(If applicable) How have the men closest to you supported your reproductive education and choices?
My dad was silent on the subject (I was raised religious and taught abstinence growing up). The other men in my life have always been generally very supportive. I’ve been lucky, I guess.
Amanda Manitach is an artist and writer. She co-founded and co-directed multiple mixed-use arts spaces in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Due to incredible social pressure, Amanda has accepted the burden of being sexy at all times.