When Women Have Womb Envy
I09 knows me so well. They had a post yesterday afternoon titled, “You are Suffering from Womb Envy.” Well, yes, yes, I am.
Though apparently, because I identify as female, I am suppose to have penis envy. I’m supposed to be checking out penises and wishing I had my own. I can’t say that has ever happened to me. I’ve never sat there and wished I had male genitalia. If anything, the opposite is true: I am glad I don’t have male genitalia, even if it means I earn 77 cents to every one of Josh’s dollars.
Image: Timothy Swinson
(I’m bringing this back for a second day in a row because what else illustrates penis envy other than a metal penis-like pole encased in barbwire? I love this picture’s versatility so much. How many other ways can I use it?)
Interestingly, Freud’s penis envy stems from a place of feeling unwhole. Of seeing a body with more and wondering why your own body has less.
Womb envy was an idea created by Karen Horney in response to Freud’s penis envy. Womb envy comes about, according to i09,
When men realize that they are not as in control of their lives as they thought they were. They want a son to carry on their name. They want a family. They’re powerless to do that on their own. Achieving their goals depends mostly on the labor, and control, of someone else’s body. They envy women’s ability to produce the life, and they envy women’s ability to be certain of lineage. No mother doubts the maternity of a child. Fathers aren’t so lucky.
The theory was created almost as a tit for a tat — you think we envy you? Well, then we’re going to say that you envy us — but what about those of us who read the paragraph above and thought, “aren’t I a woman? And yet that spoke volumes of my psyche.”
I don’t feel in control of my life when it comes to family building. I want another child to carry on my genes; who allows me to relive childhood again through them. I want a bigger family. And I can’t do it on my own. I can’t even do it with Josh. And I don’t think I can do it anymore at all with my eggs. Achieving my goal means paying someone to help me; a lot of money with no promise of it working. So I envy women who can just… produce life. Who decide they want a child, have sex, and feel a child in their womb. Who carry that child to term and deliver that child according to plan.
Just because you have a womb doesn’t mean that you have a womb.
Poor short-sighted Karen Horney. How was she to know that there would be thousands of women who grapple with their child’s maternity despite being the mother?
Even with a womb, I have womb envy. And it makes me feel unwhole. It makes me wonder why my body was made with less.