Tuesday, September 1, 2015

"After Birth"

Elisa Albert is the author of After Birth (2015), The Book of Dahlia (2008), How This Night is Different (2006), and the editor of the anthology Freud’s Blind Spot (2010).

She applied the Page 69 Test to After Birth and reported the following:
From page 69:
She just needs us to sit with her. Process. Not so terrifically much to ask. Not so big a thing.

We’re supposed to have mothers, I say. We’re supposed to have sisters. But what if you don’t have a mother? What if you don’t have a sister?

Or a crappy mother, Mina mutters, massaging a huge, tender tit. Or a crappy sister.
The specter of two women coming together in fellowship, honesty and good humor, connecting fully and whole-heartedly: it’s a radical act, and judging from the media it continues to be an utterly shocking and improbable one. Impossible, they cry! Unlikely, at the very least. How odd: A woman wrote something or filmed something or sang something not designed to make us all feel better about ourselves and the status quo. Ferocious, they say. Lunatic, they say. Outrageous, they say. (But would you fuck her?)

It’s hard to think for oneself. We are not usually given much training in it. “Rebellion rarely survives the aversion therapy that passes for being brought up female,” Andrea Dworkin wrote. Overturning systems of oppression is the primary directive of art, and no system is more oppressive than one that demands the oppressed oppress one another.

Yes, is what I’m saying: this page seems fairly representative of After Birth, which is about what can happen to women when we refuse to bullshit about our lives, refuse to isolate ourselves, refuse to buy into systems that want us quiet, invisible, and ashamed. It’s about refusal, I guess. And about what can happen when we call out systems that want us quiet, invisible, and ashamed, even if said systems happen to be comprised of, alas, other women, and even if said other women are our “friends” or our sisters or our very own mothers. And what can happen, spoiler alert, is that we might be happier, healthier, and maybe almost whole.

Here, two women sit together, keep company, and hold the space while each grapples with her own difficulty, heartbreak, struggle. That’s it. Not so big a thing. Not so much to ask.
Learn more about the author and her work at Elisa Albert's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Book of Dahlia.

--Marshal Zeringue