As we move into 2017 we are anticipating many changes. The prevalent mood and defining spirit of our time has shifted with sufficient numbers to affirm a political climate that legitimizes misogyny, racism and bigotry in many forms. For those of us who do not support these positions it is difficult to know how to make our voices heard. I know that donations to organizations that sustain racial, gender and economic equality have increased substantially and I myself have started contributing to such a group.
But I am not of an inclination to join marches and protests so I have turned to the most effective tool of resistance that I have. I have joined with some colleagues to produce a book called A Womb of Her Own: Women’s Struggle for Sexual and Reproductive Autonomy. (Ellen L.K. Toronto et al; Routledge. In Press) When we were conceiving of the book we didn’t realize that its chapters would be so timely. We didn’t know that a war against women would be taking place front and center in our political arena. But it is. The gains that women have made in the last fifty years have the potential to be turned back yet again. It points out once more that women’s autonomy is and always has been fleeting and subject to societal whim. Our book addresses this very question and it suggests that the ephemeral nature of women’s autonomy lies in our biology. We as women do not have to be the victims of our biology but we can resist that status only if and when we understand its tremendous power.
Over the next few months I will be presenting chapters from the book that I mentioned. My blog will still be under the title of See-Saw Parenting. I believe, and I think most would agree, that there are no people more central to the vicissitudes of parenting that mothers and women. I will being with the summary from the back cover. I welcome your constructive comments and reactions.
While our acknowledgment of the fluidity of gender may have freed us from repressive stereotypes, body-based distinctions and women’s central role in reproduction contribute to their continuing subjugation and exploitation. Anatomy is an irrefutable mark of difference between the sexes and women, as the ostracized “other”, remain the focus of mistreatment in the form of rape, sexual slavery, restriction of reproductive rights and ongoing societal oppression. The very real anatomical differences that women possess have become the culturally sanctioned focus of male obsession, hostility and control. The contributions presented in A Womb of Her Own: Women’s Struggle for Sexual and Reproductive Autonomy explore the ways in which women’s sexual and reproductive capabilities have been regarded as societal and patriarchal property and not as the possession of the individual woman. In this way her status within the human community has remained unstable and subject to societal whim.
This book addresses a number of issues that affect women and the societal imperatives that continue to exercise control women’s issues. Topics considered include the very real possibility of a war against women, the relationship of the gay community to feminism, the world-wide presence of cultural violence, date rape on the college campus and efforts to provide effective intervention. Other topics considered are those defining birth and motherhood as well as the decision to remain childless from women’s perspective. Finally topics pertaining to birth, pregnancy loss and motherhood are addressed as they affect the therapist in the clinical setting.
The commentary in each section of the book will endeavor to integrate theory with personal and professional experience in the exploration of issues that uniquely affect women.
Ellen Toronto is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Spring, Texas and has been practicing since 1980. In 2017, she was elected a Fellow in Psychoanalysis by the American Psychological Association. In 2016, Dr. Toronto's practice was recognized as one of the top Ann Arbor Psychology practices. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Michigan. Dr. Toronto is married to Robert Toronto, Ph.D., and together they have four sons and eleven grandchildren.