I am going to have cosmetic surgery, I am going to put a couple of really big tits on this body, to see if my head changes a bit. Well, it could also be horns, or a tail, whatever. Tattoos are definitely not enough. It is not about pleasing anyone, nor is it about reaching an ideal imposed by patriarchy, neoliberalism or any other subculture. No. I am sure about that. I need to know if changing my body radically, changes the way I feel and think. Just that. And if it does, I am ready to do anything.
Let me clarify. It is not enough to read the must-read books of feminism and understand, for example, that one is not born a woman, but rather becomes one. That role that one embodies is given by the society in which we live. And when I have wished to escape from that role, the main challenge has not been to empower myself and live a truly independent life. I have achieved everything.
I do not know if you are following me.
I mean everything that a woman was not entitled to in society, just because she was a woman.
It is recent. This is just the beginning.
A few years ago, we women could not own private property. It was managed by the husbands when it was inherited, in other words, our inheritance by right belonged to them. My grandfather's mother was one of those women who received a large inheritance when her father died and her husband gambled away his wife's fortune in the casino. He was a gambling addict. That would not have been an obstacle, but since we could not do business, as we had to be at home fulfilling our family role, we women could not generate any capital either. I, on the other hand, bought a property as soon as I was able to save enough money.
I have more examples.
Women were previously condemned to a leading role in the domestic world, relegated to parenting and housework, cooking and children, because they did not have control over their fertility and reproductive capacity. With scientific progress and the development of contraceptive pills, plus the separation of the State and the Church, women were able to control pregnancies and postpone motherhood. Nevertheless, my mother told me that her children had been sent by God. I am talking about a relatively modern and open-minded woman, who worked very hard. I think as a child I had panic that God almighty decided to send me unwanted children and as soon as I could, as a teenager, I started taking birth control pills. For this I did not need the authorization of my parents, even though I was a minor.
And divorce. I am not the first woman in my family to get divorced, it is true. We have all been divorced: my grandmother, my mother and me. We have been fortunate to have been able to divorce. Even less than a century ago, “together forever” was a fact of life, even if the guy next to you had become your worst enemy. It was a matter of survival. What was a woman to do alone, if she was not given the possibility to financially support herself.
But to deprogram oneself here, in what we think or feel, today in the 21st century, is the most difficult thing. Or maybe mine is an excess of memory. Or maybe, on the contrary, it is a serious lack of memory and I forget some details not-really-details from when I was a child and adolescent. Or maybe it is a combination of excess and lack of memory at the same time. Because education is a hammer to shape people. And by that I am not only referring to school, but to the whole environment in which we were involved, from which we absorbed what we are today, like the sponge cake absorbed the orange juice, when we made the birthday cake for grandpa.
I can determine my actions, in the present, but not my emotions. I can judge myself for feeling inadequately, from the patriarchal paradigm, but I cannot ignore what I feel. I question what I feel and even when I make efforts to change it, it does not work. Then I review all those experiences that my women and I have lived through, and I thank this collective that gives me back my perspective. Because if I am left alone in my own room, I do not see clearly if what I am feeling is my reality or if it was the reality of another woman, of one who lived in the 1800s. Or even earlier.
One has to go out into the world.
It is not me, it is all of us.
As I wait my turn for the operation -I already have the surgical gown on- with a notebook and a pencil, which I always carry with me to write down everything I do not want to forget, I summarize some concepts on my experience horizon and try to replace them with others:
I decided on the big tits. Do not get me wrong.
* Gala Montero (Santiago de Chile, 1980) is an actress, playwright, theatre director and sociologist. She has lived in Frankfurt am Main since 2013. She works in the free theatre scene in Germany, in collaboration with other artists and also in writing, directing and managing projects. www.galamontero.com