#WomanCentered: TAURMINI FENTRESS
#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.
Do you have advice for other women regarding birth control methods that worked well or didn’t work well for you?
Nothing is 100% and sometimes life consists of some really challenging choices. Protection is a wise move obviously — and so is spending some time checking in with body and mind to know what path you may want to take if it comes down to a choice to make. And we sure as hell should all have that choice.
In 2016, openly discussing one’s reproductive choices is still considered taboo, why do you suppose more women aren’t having these conversations?
In 2016, women’s reproductive choices still aren’t treated as if they are totally their own. We judge women for having children when they are too young, poor, old, single, uneducated, employed, not employed, and on and on and on. While the pressure on mothers is incredibly intense, I’m not sure that it quite measures up to what those who choose not to have children go through.
Somehow we seem to still believe that having a child is what gives life, especially a woman’s life, meaning. Before I had a child it used to drive me crazy when parents would say, “Having a child is the most selfless thing you can do.” Now that I’m a mother, this still drives me fucking nuts. It just isn’t.
Creating a human that carries your DNA isn’t the most selfless thing ever …actually in a world that is quickly being depleted of resources, it may be one of the more selfish things you can do. Taking care of people regardless of their connection to you, following your passion to help people, working to for a more equitable world, just being the best person you can be … these are selfless things.
Having a child is a clusterfuck of stuff that is hard to understand and difficult to explain and that is, at least to me, one of those last life mysteries, but it isn’t selfless. I’m a mom and I’m a good one. That means she comes first and that isn’t selfless really except that she is separate from me so I’m selfless for her self, but that’s not a qualification for sainthood, it’s just motherhood. The only argument that I can follow for this point of view is that I’m a better person because I’m a mother. I am. I want to be the person I see reflected in my daughter’s eyes, but still … though it is certainly growth, this isn’t the most selfless thing one can do.
So maybe women are still quiet about their reproductive choices because it opens us up to a ridiculous amount of judgement — from slut-shaming to a cult of Madonna worship — who doesn’t just wanna skip that noise? I think this is shifting though — I do see women being more and more comfortable with discussing the reproductive choices that they are making for their lives.
We’re all creators anyhow. All of us raising children, birthing projects, care taking the planet, risking everything for art. Everyone who is loving with their bones, leading with their heart, and keeping on even when the path seems to stop in midair. I hope we get better at celebrating all kinds of births — all of those who have loved enough to risk it all to give life to their dream, who are selfless enough to put this other, be it child, belief, or creation, above their own comfort and numbing security. So thank you to everyone who has pushed the boundaries of birth until you’ve stood on the edge of the known landscape and taken that leap, caring more for what you were bringing into the world than where you would land. That’s sure a reproductive choice I can get behind.