My strength is not in participating in marches but in taking up the pen or, in this case, the keyboard. I did however, join in the March in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I was thrilled to be a part of a peaceful crowd of 11,000 people. I saw friends and colleagues, young women and men, girls and boys, all races and ethnic groups, old and young.
I have been part of the women’s movement since in 1967. I am sad to say that now, in 2017, 50 years later, women’s rights still come and go, subject to societal whim. I believe that this will be so until women are equally represented as creators of law and architects of policy. But I was greatly encouraged by the fact that women will not be silenced either. Nearly three million people worldwide joined together to make their voices heard. At this time in history, the Internet as a means of global communication is a godsend.
Part of the challenge in bringing women’s issues into public and written discourse is the fact that female experience has too long remained in the realm of the private–the coffee group, the quilting bee, the conversation over the backyard fence. Certainly, in the last 50 years, women’s voices have been heard in ways that have never before been available. But I believe that we still avoid woman’s story—the changes in her body during pregnancy, her pain in childbirth, her grappling with infertility or pregnancy loss. To that end, we have as I mentioned, compiled a collection of articles that we believe address these egregious lapses in human history.
Our book considers such topics in the following way:
It is as though our theories have skipped a step. Perhaps we really don’t want to know. Is it possible that the subjective experiences of women who are mothers; women who give birth; women who are raped or who do not feel safe on a college campus or walking alone in the dark are too painful for us to contemplate? Are we collectively unable to look at what it is really like to care for small children on a daily basis without help or respite? Must we close our ears to the anguished cries of the rape of the Sabine women as they ring through the pages of history? Shall we remain ignorant of what is it like to be the subject of rape or its helpless witness? Can we comprehend the momentary “gut check” as to their safety that women experience as they walk through the neighborhood in the dark or admit a burly plumber or electrician to their homes?
Is it too much to imagine the wailing cry of a woman who has been told that the last efforts to achieve fertility have been expended? Must we protect our public discourse from the anguish of infertility, the hope of adoption, the often difficult decision to remain childless and the heart-wrenching experiences that they represent? Can we afford to bring out of the shadows the sorrow of a miscarriage or the wracking sobs that can accompany post-partum depression? On the other side are we aware of the experience of birth as a God-like connection with all of the universe? Can we finally elaborate the other half of the mother–child relationship—subtle, textured, infinitely diverse—but characterized in our (psychoanalytic) texts as the “socio-emotional environment?”
There were women out there marching—three million strong. I can bet that a lot of them were mothers. They were saying in a million voices and without violence that women—mothers or not—have something to say. For the good of the human race and the survival of the planet, their voices, in equal numbers to their male counterparts, need to be heard.
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.