Intersections – My Magical InsidesNicki Salcedo
By Nicki Salcedo
“I don’t care about left or right. It’s all nonsense. All I ask of you is this. Be kind. Be decent. And don’t be greedy.” –Nickolas Butler, Shotgun Lovesongs
I don’t engage in political discussions. If you start one with me, I’ll turn the conversation to Star Trek. In the future, I hope we’ll be civil in our discourse. But I know people will always argue and disagree. Still, I dream of the day when there will be equality for all people, for all women. These days, having a uterus is a dangerous thing, but for me it is magic.
When you’re a girl, as soon as you turn 12 years old, people start talking about your insides. You get your period and suddenly you are magic. You are Eve with the apple. Girls are either objectified or scorned. Boys don’t have this trouble. When you’re a 12-year-old boy, the world leaves you alone. Boys get to be kids as long as they can.
After little girls become women, people want to know what happens next. Are you going to have sex or abstain? Are you going to get married? Are you using contraceptives? Are you going to have babies? Did you mean to get pregnant or was it an accident? By goodness, you’ve got all that magic locked up inside of you. And it is hidden magic. How are you going to use it? It is power. It is mystery. The world needs to understand your magic. Worst of all, the world feels compelled to tell you what to do with it.
If you watched Star Trek, you know that Uhura (in The Original Series) had a great career. She had no boyfriend or husband. She had no kids. She was smart and adventurous. She had curves and showed her legs. She had magic. She was thoughtful. Nobody judged her for the things she had or the things she didn’t have. Nothing seemed to be missing in her life.
Real life women, with magical insides, are judged by everything. From when we get our cycle to how we decide to use it. Having sex is wrong. Not having sex is weird. Enjoying sex is very wrong. Having a baby is conforming to a paternalistic society. Not having a baby is selfish. Being unable to conceive is a disappointment. Adopting is suspicious. We women with magical insides cannot make any choice without it being the wrong one.
Some days I’d rather live in outer space.
What does the world need to know about boys? Zilch. Obviously, boys ARE having sex. They are men. They don’t have magic. All of their parts are on the outside. There is no mystery or responsibility. No one asks how, why, or what they are doing to protect themselves. This double standard doesn’t even make me mad. I have a son. He is great, but he isn’t magical. The world makes assumptions about him that this evil mother is going to correct. All those questions asked of my daughters will be asked of him.
I will not talk politics with you. I will not debate religion with you. But I will get upset at the suggestion that women make decisions flippantly. We deliberate about every choice we make. We ingest hormones that alter our bodies and minds. We have children, and suddenly we heighten our awareness of the disappointments in the world. Single? Child-free? We live under never ending scrutiny.
Here is my politics: “Women are not thoughtless.” That is all. Not right or left. Women do not need to be unified in their choices, because we are not unified in our experiences. My decisions in life would be horrifically, tragically wrong for another woman.
The Supreme Court made a decision, and I should have boycotted everything last week. I didn’t. I should have boycotted craft stores and low cost retails stores and fast food chains. I should have boycotted stores I’ve never entered and stores that entice into spending too much money. Instead I sharpened my voice, and I thought about the future. I thought about Star Trek.
Conversations about reproductive habits and reproductive rights make me uncomfortable. Would I have liked Uhura better if she had a boyfriend or babies? Probably not. Maybe I liked her because she was not always defined by her race and gender. Maybe I liked her because her magic, her female power, could not be disguised.
You can’t control my amazing uterus and lady bits and girly parts. My magical insides drive people to debate, boycott, and vote. But I have another astonishing woman place. It is called a brain. Your politics might be different if you realized we were really arguing about my mind.
Instead of asking me about politics, ask me about my favorite episode of Star Trek. That’s the best way to find out what I really think.
Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom.