#WomanCentered: RACHAEL FERGUSON
#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?
I feel pretty cool for not having kids. Best decision I’ve made so far. In 2003 I got knocked up. It was my junior year at college and my teachers were not enthused with my presence. Well, my performance got worse when I didn’t realize what was happening to my body. So I took myself to the doctor and I did a test and it said baby and I said NOPE. I would’ve had a 13-year-old child. ME? With a kid?! That would’ve been bad news bears. I told myself that I would not be in this position again. And I’ve kept that promise. Since graduating college I’ve traveled the world doing art, produced plays, and singing in amazing bands.
I’m not saying being a mother you can’t do these things. I’m saying me, as Rachael, being a mother at that point in my life would not have behooved me or that child.
Do you feel pressure to fulfill an idea of womanhood that may/may not correspond to who you actually are? If so, please describe.
Right now, on a daily basis as a 33-year-old woman — I have to bicker with my father about why I’m underemployed, have no property, am single and childless. This gets to me. I love my father. I moved away from a wonderful city where I was independent and happy for 15 years to take care of him. And I am reminded how this is not enough.
I have no legacy. I have nothing for my future.
I want to make him happy. But his happiness is not mine. And that’s why this is tough. Who doesn’t want their parents to be proud and happy?
Do you have advice for other women regarding birth control methods that worked well or didn’t work well for you?
I think condoms are always the best deal. Also, if you’re with a really cool guy that’s really into not procreating then vasectomies are the business.
In 2016, openly discussing one’s reproductive choices is still considered taboo, why do you suppose more women aren’t having these conversations?
Anything that has to do with people’s sexual organs is a taboo deal. We are conditioned to think that sex and everything that goes with it is a bad thing and only immoral persons that bump uglies will suffer horrific consequences for their actions.
People not knowing their reproductive choices can lead to desperate measures.
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?
On the scale of self-love I mark myself as a seven right now. It fluctuates. I have aspirations for 10.
I think the best thing for me right now is saying affirmations to myself in the morning before I brush my teeth or clean myself. I look at my tired, crusted eyes in the mirror and I take a deep breath and I tell myself how much I love me and why. Sometimes it’s really hard, but most of the time it’s redeeming and invigorating.
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 your advice be?
Dear younger Rachael, you’re gonna get gray hair everywhere. Don’t freak out. Your boobs are gonna droop and your mom will comment on their sagginess constantly. It’s okay, gravity can’t be controlled. Also, please take better care of your back or else the nurses at the Group Health Urgent Care are going to make fun of you. And consider it an extreme honor to give a strapping young lad his red wings. Don’t worry, he’ll be very proud of himself too.
Rachael Ferguson is a playwright and performer living in Los Angeles. The themes of her work consistently play with happenstance, Black Americana, pop trivia and spectacle. Seattle-locals keep her flame lit as the former lead singer and keyboardist for NighTrain, an American indie-rock band.