Humanity I Love You

May 26, 2009

The world, sometimes, is an ugly place. A spectacularly ugly place. A place that is made all the uglier for the fact that its ugliness creeps in at the edges, smothering the beauty in its path. When you look at it through dreamy or sleepy eyes – rose-colored glasses, I think is the term – it seems unparalleled in beauty – a baby’s smile, peonies in first bloom, a new Buffy The Vampire Slayer movie – until you blink and rub your eyes and look more closely and realize that in the shadows lurks such ugliness as you have never imagined. And suddenly the baby’s smile fades, and the peonies wither, and the Buffy movie turns out to be a cinematic crime of such epic proportions to prevent you from ever seeing a movie again.

It’s the kind of ugliness, as I said, that smothers and warps beauty, turning the world ugly for no reason other than proclaim the victory of ugliness. So it is, for example, that people proclaim that an image of beauty and hope – an image of a small child nursing her infant doll – is something sordid, in order to assert their belief that nursing is ugly and that bodies are ugly and that any practice of nurture that does not accord with their limited view of what constitutes love and nurture is ugly. So it is, for example, that people proclaim that the marriage of two people who love each other and want to love and care for each other for the entirety of their lives is a deviation, simply because the people who want to marry are not of different sex, in order to assert their belief that love is ugly and that sex is ugly if these do not accord with their limited view of the character and purpose of love and sex. And so by making these assertions, they drag in the cold specters of prurience and judgment and demand that we view these unarguably beautiful things – playful joy being derived from an act of nurture, the determination of two hearts to be joined in committed love – through a chilly hateful fog. Everything takes on the cast of ugliness through such a fog. Everything.

Such a fog creates hate where none existed before, where none should have existed before. I hate those who would make me second-guess a beautiful photograph of my daughter, who would force me to defend encouraging her in something – indulging the impulse to play at motherhood, to play at nurture, to teach herself the practices of love and care – that should require no defense, none at all. I hate those who would compel me to shake my fists at the state of California and shout words like evil and stupid and unfair, who would drag me into the ring to defend, again, something that should be beyond defense, something that should just be received as a given blessing – more love in the world, more hearts bound to other hearts, more hearts in exulting in the joy of sharing a life.

There is nothing sexual about a child pretending to nurse. There is nothing sordid about two men or two women loving each other. That I even have to draw together in a written breath the words sexual-child-nurse and sordid-two-men-two-women-loving is ugly and wrong because it just perpetuates the ugliness, it just gives it air to breathe, it just acknowledges that it is there and that fills me with anger, so much anger, and so the cycle of ugliness grinds on.

So I am choosing, now, to refuse the ugliness. I am not going to argue or rant or defend. Beauty needs no defense. It just is. And I am going to celebrate it.

This is beauty:


Let’s celebrate it. Maybe, by celebrating it, we can chase the ugliness back into the shadows.

Teach your child to nurse a dolly. Tell your child that Barbie can fall in love with Barbie and that Ken can fall in love with Ken. Tell them that love – good love, strong love, love that doesn’t hurt – is never ugly. Tell them, teach them, that caring for other beings, is always beautiful, no matter what it looks like. Tell them to fight ugliness by celebrating beauty. And you do the same.

Let’s all do the same.

(Humanity i love you because you
are perpetually putting the secret of
life in your pants and forgetting
it’s there and sitting down

on it)

Please.

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    { 90 comments }

    Mimi May 26, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Yes. Exactly right.

    Goldfish May 26, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    That photo is beautiful. And love is beautiful. And you know what else? This post is beautiful.

    Goldfish May 26, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    That photo is beautiful. And love is beautiful. And you know what else? This post is beautiful.

    iamthatmommy May 26, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    You are exactly right. I unknowingly opened up a facebook status storm by complaining about how I was not a fan of California holding up Prop 8 (Okay, maybe I didn’t say it like that. Maybe I said that I was hoping the state would go ahead and fall off into the ocean … or something as equally pleasant as that) because I choose to believe that marriage is marriage regardless of who is involved (with the exception of children and puppies).

    Plus, there is absolutely nothing wrong with your daughter knowing how to breastfeed. Any action that is loving, that shows care for others — I don’t understand how it can ever be questionable.

    Live and let live, yo. And with that, I’ll get off my soapbox.

    heidi daisybones May 26, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    You’re keeping me from total despair with this post. Bless ya.

    WhisperingWriter May 26, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Fantastic post.

    You are so right.

    Oh, and I love that picture.

    Colleen May 26, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    You couldn’t have said it better! That is one of the most innocent, beautiful pictures I have ever seen!

    The Gossamer Woman May 26, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Amen to that you beautiful woman. You said it right as usual and I sure as hell wish there were more people in the world in important positions who were like you.

    Mr Lady May 26, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Bra tothefucking VO.

    Little Monkies May 26, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    I looked across the table the other night to see my children, my husband, my lesbian friends, and their twins all eating, joking and having fun. A normal Saturday night for us. All I could hope was “geez, maybe we’ve broken a cycle here.” I was raised to believe that being gay was wrong and horrible. My children look at female couples and male-female couples without difference. I’m ready for the day they come home to question why it is that others think it wrong. But it’s easier to go there than undo the other crap. Thanks for your fantastic insight, as always.

    Psyche May 26, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Amen. And I love that photo.

    MommiePie May 26, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Boob-ya!

    zchamu May 26, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    *Applause*

    Although I do have to laugh at her holding the baby doll by the neck. I’m pretty sure that’s not a standard football hold.

    Diana May 26, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Amen, Catherine! Amen!

    Breastfeeding is beautiful and love is beautiful, too – no matter the genders of those involved.

    Sarah May 26, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    AMEN!!

    The USA needs to take a gigantic dose of “stay the hell out of everyone’s business”.

    And by stay out, I mean live and let love.

    Well said.

    FireMom May 26, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    I have a picture of my oldest son nursing his Fire Doggie doll while I was nursing his younger brother one afternoon in bed. The smile on his face is one of pride.

    Beautiful post.

    Jaden Paige May 26, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Friggin right!!

    That photo swells my heart :) As does this post. Thank you.

    feefifoto May 26, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    I really think it’s going to happen in California. If Iowa can do it, and Massachusetts, and Vermont, and possibly New York, California can. I feel so sad for everyone whose existence is being denied.

    Jessi May 26, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    I’m totally with you. With you to the point that I can’t talk about it because I’ll either end up yelling at the computer screen like an idiot or crying at the computer screen like a loser.

    So, instead, I’ll say that the new “Buffy” movie is the worst idea ever!! Do these people seriously believe that the same fan group that resurrected Firefly will stand for this. Hmph.

    Magpie May 26, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Yes. And yes again.

    Joy May 26, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    YES!! and YES!!

    Thank you for stating this so eloquently. The world needs more love and acceptance.

    JR May 26, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    I’m a long time reader of your blog. I stumbled across this Jill Bolte video, thought you’d appreciate it too. http://www.carecrunch.com/2009/05/16/how-it-feels-to-have-a-stroke/

    JR

    GingerB May 26, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    I love that you took this picture of your daughter and that you posted it with pride. My baby doesn’t nurse well because she started out in the hospital but I pump around the clock for her, and my stepsons and toddler know that even if they have to wait for me to finish sometimes, it is all about giving the love to the baby. I am proud I taught them that. You are so very right, Baddie. I’m going to go hug one of my gay friends so I can feel better about the world today.

    Angela May 26, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    I have a similar picture of my daughter. I cannot BELIEVE you were given a hard time about it!! Shame on people. SHAME!

    Angela <><

    Amber May 26, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    I feel very sad about the verdict in California. I look forward to the day when love is celebrated not only here in Canada but across the US and around the world.

    And I love that photo of your daughter. :)

    Stitch Sista May 26, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    And get this…even little boys nurse toys! I was so happy when my then 2 yo nursed his, as it meant the breastfeeding was totally normalised for him, and hopefully he will be a great support to a future partner if they ever have a child.

    Anyway it’s totally ridiculous, and I think most people don’t get it until they have actually nursed a child themselves.

    Lynn May 26, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    When we had our third, my older daughter would often pretend to nurse. I thought it was adorable! Stick to your guns, there’s nothing shameful here.

    Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com May 26, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    I couldn’t believe the court decision. Honestly. COULD. NOT. BELIEVE.

    Thank you for this lovely post.

    ...k... May 26, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    coming out of longtime lurker/reader status to say I LOVE YOU!!!

    This post is wonderful, and you are spot on – love should be celebrated, not denigrated.

    and that picture is so adorable it makes my ovaries ache.

    KB May 26, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    Beautifully put.

    The Girl May 26, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    I could weep. I’m 13 weeks pregnant with my own little one, and I hope one day he or she mimics something beautiful like breastfeeding. I truly, fiercely hope one day he or she finds true love, WHOMEVER THAT IS WITH. How dare anyone pervert these beautiful things with their cast down glances, with their judgemental sneers? Shame on us? SHAME ON THEM.

    Tuesday Girl May 26, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    I am teaching my kids that love is love no matter who you love. The heart wants want it wants and if it is not your cup of tea, good for you.
    If it is MY cup of tea good for me.
    really if people just mined their OWN business and families we wouldn’t have a Country falling apart, kids with no families, violence, and abuse.

    Dawn May 26, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    When I brought our youngest home from the hospital, my 2.5 year old immediately hoisted her shirt and pretended to feed her “baby.” Of course, I took a picture, and it’s one of the most precious I have. There’s NOTHING wrong with it!

    Thanks for posting this. I agree with you 100%!

    Erin, Nick and Merrick May 26, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Perfection.

    mek May 26, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    A-freaking-men to it all.

    Anonymous May 26, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    My younger brother nursed his baby Doug. Even in the middle of Canadian Tire…much to my fathers embarrassment.
    He is a well adjusted adult. Who is awesome and considerate with his niece and nephew.

    Momma Sunshine May 26, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    Love the photo. Both of my girls “nursed” their dollies when they were little, too. Such a beautiful thing.

    Sarcastica May 26, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Catherine, I LOVE LOVE LOVED this post. It was so beautifully written, I cried. I agree with everything and more you said here. I’m tired of the ugliness where there should be no ugliness.

    Anonymous May 26, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    I have a picture of my three year old son nursing his little bunny and when I saw him do it, it made me want to cry. It is such a nuturing act and the fact that he is imitating it is wonderful. I see nothing wrong with it-its what he sees me doing with his baby sister and thinks its completely natural. I hope that that innocence always stays with him.

    Aimee May 26, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    So often your posts perfectly state what I have been feeling or thinking. Thank you!

    My husband said last week that he hopes our daughter nurses her baby dolls. I am dumbfounded that someone could think that was abuse.

    Kris May 26, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    My daughter breastfeeds her babydolls as well, and I find it so sweet. I’ve had other moms over for playdates (ones that bottle fed, for whatever reason they chose to do so, I’m not judging) look away with actual disgust. How could that be disgusting? That picture is really beautiful.

    What an incredibly written post. Absolute brilliance. Thank you for writing it.

    kgirl May 26, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    Word.

    daysgoby May 26, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    I just don’t understand how love could be so wrong.

    Animal May 26, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Thank you. So well-written, and your plaintive cry to celebrate beauty reverberated with me, and so will reverberate further in the world…and then more beauty will be celebrated.

    Trista May 26, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    Once I stopped hyperventilating about the Whedon-less BTVS movie (thanks for that bit of sunshine, ugh), I read your beautiful post and kept thinking “hear, hear.” I love that your daughter instinctually wanted to nurture her baby, it’s lovely that she equated nursing with caring and loving. As for same-sex marriage, this is one of the times when I am thankful that I live in Canada (and I don’t want that to sound arrogant, I’m just grateful that we are a bit ahead of the curve in this area, or at least not behind it). I don’t want more rights than anyone else, and they don’t deserve them any less than I do.

    Kaye May 26, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    AMEN!! *applause*

    Mom101 May 26, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Darling, I want to bottle you, cross the border with you, then uncork you all over the State of California right now.

    Also, that Denny’s in Asheville.

    We need more HBMs in the world that’s for sure.

    Melody May 27, 2009 at 12:08 am

    I agree. And you won an award at my blog where my 2.5 year old sometimes tandem nurses her dolls.

    Lynn @ Walking With Scissors May 27, 2009 at 1:00 am

    That photo is beautiful. My son used to nurse his baby doll on his belly button while I nursed my daughter. I thought it was awesome then and I think it’s awesome now. There are some people in this world who just need to de-bunch their panties and learn about the word acceptance.

    Michelle May 27, 2009 at 2:26 am

    BRAVO!
    ::standing ovation::

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