Negative capability

Negative capability is the ability to live without answers or solutions. I was going to ask your help towards a particular solution, but I don’t think that would help.

We met in the pub, on a long sofa under the oil paintings. It would be pleasant but for the loudspeaker just above us- we both like Roxy Music enough, but the bass is overpowering-  and the man who sits alone in the armchair at the end of the table, perhaps too big to be just our table but even so. She thinks he is drugged up, not just on alcohol. I notice the colourful tattoo covering his left cheek. He has a smaller tattoo on his right cheekbone. She notices his skinny body, and his rings which look like weapons. He has two drinks then goes, to my relief.

Toxic masculinity, she thinks. He needs to pretend to be a threat. She wanted to give him a hug.

At the bar, I noticed the clothes, the washed, styled hair. Too much washing ruins a wig. Now, I notice a couple leave: he is broad and strongly built, she so slim she could be half his weight or less.

She is in a radical feminist email group. They are currently debating whether to admit men. You know the arguments- admit men, and they will take over; men should support this cause too- they have been rehashed so often. Those willing to give most energy to the emails will have their way. Others may lose interest. It is nice to be in a place where we all agree, but we don’t, as trifling differences in expression get multiplied.

I confessed my paranoia- that I was her project, she wanted me to revert, it would get kudos in the radfem groups- and she said there would be no point, for her or them. I have changed my body; and she is interested in the politics of communities, not individuals. I would not be here if I believed it, I said.

If women object to trans women in their changing room, it is mostly theoretical for them. There are so few of us, they are unlikely to run into one. For me, it really matters: if I have to try something on at home, I can only buy clothes in my home town.

She counters that neutral language for midwives matters to her. She has a female body, and she has had children grown and birthed from her woman’s body. This is a woman’s experience, and neutral language erases that, and her. She gets passionate.

And yet men give birth. One pregnant transitioned trans man got in the newspapers, and now there is a steady, small number; and people who are neither men nor women but genderqueer give birth. Here is an article on it. I may come back to this, to puzzle out my own view. That was my original idea for this post. Yet I am unsure it would solve anything.

Inclusive language is truthful. The first attempts are clumsy, but “police person” becomes “police officer” which is generally used. I would have asked you for alternatives to the terms “pregnant people” and “birthing individuals” for midwives to use for the whole client group which might get round the difficulty, might make the word choice a positive sum game; but it would not help, not really.

I have no power at all in this. I may be tolerated, or not. My thinking cannot create an answer everyone will accept. My loyalty is to pregnant men, however lovely it is to be in agreement with friends.

JD Fergusson People and sails

7 thoughts on “Negative capability

  1. You know, the first word that springs to mind and sticks is ‘breeders’, but I doubt many would be happy with that as it sounds somewhat cold. So much of this is about mind set rather than terms and yet they can make a big difference too.

    ‘Folderol’. I agree. With you Clare that is laughs,

    esme pocketing the folderol upon the Cloud

    Liked by 1 person

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