Recently, my buddy and I were discussing the benefits of Lysol and its germ killing capabilities during our mundane work day. I don’t use chemical cleaners anymore, and while I’m not positive, I don’t think they do at his house either. But, a mutual friend of ours has had a really long run of incredibly sick kids and now buys Lysol by the vat. My buddy posited (jokingly) that perhaps their children are allergic to Lysol.
Whilst we were chatting (via IM) about this, he googled, well, I’m not sure exactly what phrase he googled, but he came up with this:
Apparently, Lysol was once heralded as a douche.
I’m gonna let that sink in for a moment.
Lysol, the disinfectant spray and cleaner, was once heralded as a feminine hygiene product.
As I sat absolutely slack-jawed at my desk, thinking he’s pulling my leg, he sends yet another interesting piece of anecdotal information.
From wikipedia: In the US, from around 1930 to 1960, vaginal douching with a Lysol disinfectant solution was the most popular form of birth control. US marketing ads printed testimonials from European "doctors" touting its safety and effectiveness. The American Medical Association later investigated these claims. They were unable to locate the cited "experts" and found that Lysol was not effective as a contraceptive.
I’m sorry… WHAT?
Lysol was a popular form of … birth control?
How is it that, (forget possible) plausible?
My brain is literally stuttering as I type this, trying to wrap thought processes around this. It seems absolutely asinine and ludicrous that we, as women, would do this to ourselves, until someone made us stop (ie, the AMA stating that it wasn’t ‘effective as a contraceptive’). Forget that the chemical make-up could probably do some not too nice things to your innermost female workings, but it just wasn’t effective enough as a contraceptive.
Where did our respect for our bodies disappear to? Is this the kind of thinking that has led to the twisting of some of our young minds today? Did our maternal lineage feel so alienated from their womanly selves and so angered, (so threatened!) with their feminine wound that they felt it ok to do such potential damage to themselves? And by correlation, they passed that feminine wound onto each subsequent generation, until it reached us, and in some cases, our daughters.
The idea of the feminine wound is not a new one. As a grown woman, I realized I felt it, hell; I fed it, my entire life. My whole being was centered on being as good as the guys. It was only as an adult that I realized this was society’s problem, not mine. I read Sue Monk Kidd’s “The Dance of the Dissident Daughter”, the first weekend I spent alone after separating from my (now) ex-husband. This book is easily my favorite and most read book, full of underscores, highlighter marks and dog-eared pages. I push it onto any one who might be interested in reading it. All who have read it come away touched in some way (even the guys). In her book, she discusses at great length, the feminine wound and how it affected her. As I read, I cried, because I realized how much of it touched me, and how I had mothered my children (to that point).
The feminine wound is when we, as woman, feel inadequate, just because we are women. We feel lacking and decidedly less than, because we were not born male. It’s why countless women feel compelled to apologize for giving birth to daughters, not sons (as recounted in the first person, by Christiane Northrup in ‘Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom’) . Instead of being the best we can personally be, we strive to do it better than the boys. Because, of course, how the boys do it is the only measuring stick that has ever mattered.
But does the depth of that female wound mean that we have to deny who and what we really are, just to satisfy centuries of programming so deep it feels nearly genetic? At what point do we realize that the feminist agenda of our mother’s and grandmother’s may not be entirely on track with our beliefs, but it is much closer than denying our womanhood completely.
One of our first mistakes is trying to be all things to all people, and never being all we can be for ourselves. Believing in the ‘you can have it all’ propaganda has destroyed the womanhood of a generation of women. Yes, maybe we can, but do we really want it all? At what cost does having it all come? Countless women have had the corporate success, only to have familial issues at home because they spend so much time at work. Or, their work is considered mediocre, because they have to care for familial needs.
There is so much damage impressed upon us by ourselves. We beat ourselves up if the cupcakes for Johnny’s class party were purchased at the bakery and not homemade, like the ones that Susie’s mom brought. We have eternal debates over what is better for the child, a stay at home mom, or a mom that works, yet we never ask what is right for the mother. I always find it interesting and sometimes comical that once we become mothers, the life of the mother is then seemingly forfeit. The feelings, the yearnings, the desires, the goals, it all no longer matters. How does taking goals and dreams and desires away to be able to make the right kind of cupcakes make a mother whole and better capable of parenting our next generation of conscientious and contributing adults?
How much of our feminine right is sacrificed at the altar of twisted societal norms?
Women have strength and power and intelligence and natural born intuition. Too often, we stifle all those things so that we can go along to get along. I know I was guilty of that for the majority of my life. I think a lot of us did. For hundreds, if not a thousand, years, women have been disconnected from the true strength of their feminine life. They were led to believe that the very nature of just being a woman made them weak, thereby susceptible to less than virtuous behavior and generally treated as though we were less than intelligent, but a slight step above chattel. Historical and sociological studies prove this time and time again. Our own actions validate those studies on a daily basis.
I’m not stating that things don’t have to be done, that there no obligations we have to meet, but I’m suggesting maybe we choose them with a little more care. Decide what it is that you want from your life, and adjust your involvement and commitments from there. Yes, we all want to raise thoughtful, intelligent, productive, loving, nurturing children, but when they are grown, you are then left with your self and hopefully a life partner. Doesn’t it make sense that you continue to nurture yourself and your own inner growth chart, while nurturing theirs? I firmly believe that ‘empty nest syndrome’ comes from mothers not mothering themselves enough, and feel empty as women when the children are grown. They’ve lost themselves, going into a nurturing debt, if you will, to take care of everyone but themselves.
If you can’t walk away from obligations completely, cut back. If you find your child’s calendar is fuller than yours, most definitely cut back. Experience their childhood with them, not just be the chauffeur for their social and activity calendar. Take long walks, take art classes with them, or just finger paint on the dining room table. If you really don’t want to be team mom this year for (insert sport here), don’t. Taking license with one of my favorite Richard Bach quotes, ‘Argue your limitations (and obligations) and sure enough, they are yours.’ The point I’m trying to make is this… know and honor you. If you feel overtaxed and over committed, you probably are. Take, no make, the time to find your feminine wound and allow it to heal.
You are a beautiful, magnificent, powerful woman.
Do what feels good, laugh more, smile more, and for Goddess sake, put away the Lysol.
(Oh, and for the record, I throw and run like a girl and am damn proud of it.)