Sunday, August 29, 2010
The Venus- Women Actually LIKED Their Fertility!?
Long ago, back when I went to the bathroom alone regularly (before kids you know) I went to college. I took a class in Anthropology (the study of humans). My teacher mentioned something that got me hooked on Anthropology forever. It was the Venus.
The images of the Venus are prehistoric art figures that are actually very common. In fact it is probably one of the earliest art forms. They are found all over and nobody actually "knows" what they mean.
They are characterized by a shapely female body (shall we even say, chubby...) with small head and small feet. My professor mentioned that though it is not know exactly what they are for or who they were created for, people often think of them as some kind of fertility image. But what caught my attention was when he mentioned that a female Anthropologist interested in the Venus figurines was pondering on their meaning one day while she was in the shower.
She looked down at her nude form and realized that from that vantage point, she could see her curves, not her head, and her feet and legs looked very small. She postulated that perhaps the Venus figurines were actually SELF PORTRAITS, done by women. Of course back then there were no mirrors as we know them today, and so the view from one's own eyes looking down would have been how all women viewed themselves.
I love to think of the Venus figures like this. It makes me think that perhaps this art was created by women for women or even for themselves. Perhaps women long ago loved their shapely bodies. Since offspring would have been so precious and important to survival of the people as a whole, their round breasts, heavy hips, and distended abdomen would not have been something they hated as we do, but instead a thing of beauty, to be celebrated.
When I become pregnant for the first time I was overwhelmed with the feeling of sisterhood I suddenly felt for all mothers everywhere. It seemed like this experience of pregnancy and birth was one thing that bound us all together, no matter what other things separated us.
Birth and creating life do not just bind women of today together, but women throughout all time. How tragic that we now shun our curves, our fertility, our "fat" and our heavy softness. How sad that instead we strive to have bodies more like the ones we had BEFORE we ever gave birth.
I too am one of those women who tries so hard to erase the marks that pregnancy and birth have left on my body. But I love the Venus, because she reminds me that those marks are also universal. They tie me to women everywhere and throughout time. They tie me to my children. They prove my fertility, my femininity and my power. I too am a Venus.