A Woman Is [short fiction]

How many methods of discovery do I employ in my investigations? The limits of knowing what questions to ask can help or hinder any investigation. Who am I is who I am? My name is not my being––yes, what is in a name? A load of dog shit by any other would still smell badly––but then, we have been calking shit a rose for so long that we do resent roses for not smelling like shit.

To discover is not to uncover but simply to enforce the opposite of covering. As disrespect is other than simply not respecting; it is to be rude toward or insulting to. To discover is to leave open, to disallow any covering by anyone other than the one who discovers, particularly the natives in the age of discovery which was the prelude to colonialism. How much woman is she when she is a woman, who do we call a woman, what is woman, not women? Again, she is; this woman or that woman. Yes, is. Period (the punctuation mark, not her recurring biological condition).

Whether named or unnamed, she is. Who she is only she can tell––at least, only she has a chance at coming close? If she suffers amnesia, she still who she is, is she not? No? You imagine differently? If she is living in an Islamist State under the subjugation of men, she yet remains what she is, who she is. And there are plenty of restrictions on women in Muslim societies that are attached to and dependent on Patriarchal readings of misogynist texts.

Basic Human Rights are not even dependent on God for their validity, their veracity, their universality, no. Certainly not on Patriarchal interpretations of that God.

Hamlet’s soliloquy is also every woman’s soliloquy. She is not further removed from Hamlet’s Cartesian inquiry than I am because she is a woman and I am a man. Yes, historically men have discovered women, and in this discovering, women have been disallowed from asserting any covering of themselves by themselves or for themselves.

Now, the history of anonymous is the history of woman; or is it that the history of woman is the history of anonymity? Women are what they are when who they are determines the what, the when, the where of them. Any woman is anonymous––meaning? Thus woman, we can say without the determiner ‘a’ or ‘the’ . . . what?  Without the plural––yes, woman is anonymous.

She is in anonymity in itself; anonymity, a place history has reserved for woman; and that’s history whether it is written or unwritten, irrespective of whether or not there is a historiography to support it in the way all historiography has a way of aping Moses in his descent from Sinai.

How much is left unknown at the end of a relationship? How much do the happiest spouses really know about one another. A lover dies, a spouse is put in her tomb and who was she? No one was; the one who is not who she will be when she becomes who she was still is. Yet traditionally, woman has remained a modified man in the collective unconscious of men. In this, women are parts, not wholes, except of course in the homophonic, holes. Yes, in many societies a woman is a hole. She is a hole to fill; is is the filling of her holes––man’s fantasy of making woman complete with his cock; woman being a modified person, a wifi man, female person, thus a person without a cock and balls. Less than a person because of a vagina instead of a penis––clitoris as penis; labias as scrotum? These have not mediated the thinking irrespective of how many millennia of sensory experience with the erogenous.

Women are . . . what? No, once more I demand that they are not what, but who. So then, Who are they? ‘They’ is too big to manage. As I am we, woman is they, this woman here now in front of me with a world of inquiry and response between us, potentially, is . . . . This ‘they’ is encompassed by the she we use for her, this one and only woman who is herself and every woman as well, both, yet sometimes neither, sometimes someone else. All the time who she is whenever she is anyone she is, all the masks I wear, she can wear; all the parts I play, the players I am–in the sense Shakespeare asserts in the mouth of Jacques in As You Like It: all her world is a stage.

They are; she is; women and woman. They, them, those people, women. We know no one, not really––who do we know? Do I know the people whose minds I cannot know completely? Whose lives have been lived independently of mine? Whose eyes through which I do not see the world? Whose shoes I do not wear? Whose ears with which I do not hear? I do listen with them, do I? What do I know? I am asking. Who do I  know? Tell me. How much of my Selves in the my Self remain hidden? How can I know anyone else when so many of me inside of me remain a mystery, or unknown to me? So how could I know any woman, this woman, that woman, another woman and whichever other woman comes to meet me, pass me by, interact with me in one or another and another and another way creeping in its petty paces from day to day? Every woman is macrocosm to all women; each herself larger than the part she plays in women.

Who is she, again, the question gets asked and asked, and oftentimes asked without the intention of waiting for an answer, a particularly annoying contemporary trait I have all acquired. But how many of me avoid asking any question like this at all? Responses are not answers; I’ve asserted this before in other essays. There are plenty of responses I give, I feign attachment to or connection with, but the answers I seek–do not answer a question with a question she used to say, a woman I once knew. No question is an answer, yet I offer questions as answers, responding as I do not with the rhetorical questions that answer; but the questions in responses that avoid answering. Everything to avoid answering. Irrespective of any answer to any question, She is. To respond is not to answer but to put again, to place once more, and once again I assert that she is, and in this is becomes a macrocosm to every group or category she belongs. To put once more is a placement nonetheless, it is a choice of arrangement.

A woman is should be the first line of discussion when any thought of her right to choose anything arises. In her is, there is no longer any subtracting devices such as who, what, when, where, how or even why. None of these questions are pertinent or relevant to her inalienable right to choose. There should be no equivocation for anyone sane enough to want to save a woman from the unnecessary horrors that existed before Roe versus Wade. I’ve said this in essays before, and I will reiterate it again and again in essays to come. There were horrors before the law got behind a woman’s right to choose; curtain rods and all that sort of letting the air in. I’ll never forget the end of Goddard’s Masculin et Femminin, or Hemmingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants,” where the word abortion is never mentioned, just oblique references to curtain rods or letting in the air.

This is not to say–what is or is not to say? What am I saying? How can I say anything for her? How can I not? How can I afford to disallow myself the ability to speak rationally for woman, to speak rationally for liberty, for humanity, for civil rights, for human rights?

Defending a woman’s rights is an obligation I take seriously, which sometimes sounds as if the one asserting the severity of the responsiblity misses the point. I assure you I do not, but then who am I to you or for you? It is the obligation of every human to defend human rights. If we ever get to a place where I cannot speak for Woman’s Rights because I am a man, then we are lost.

There will always be dilemmas for her, even if aborting an embryo is legally sanctioned. This is not to say that legally sanctioning abortion is a fool’s errand. To each woman her own personhood, her own psychology rooted in her biology, her physiology and her experiences? She has reason; she is capable of reasoning, of being rational or irrational; capable of being passionate or dispassionate. She will have different levels of education, different jobs or careers; her income will vary, as will her home situation, her relationship status, her religion, and so on and so on. But the roller coaster she rides will be hers to ride when and where she chooses. To decide or not to decide should be her question and hers alone. I have shifted gears quickly.

Now, if Roe versus Wade were a complete fabrication, if it were a docudrama, would that mean that the majority ruling was somehow made weaker, argumentatively? Would the truth of it, whether true or not in the most pedantic sense of trueness become other than true? Roe versus Wade is just as strong in support of pro-choice whether or not the trial was justified on its factual merits. A trial is just that, an essay on a thesis, and whether it was factually justified does not undermine the results of the debate. The text could have been fabricated entirely by a novelist and placed in a novel. Would that make the argument irrelevant, invalid. Would the argument be void of all veracity? No.

Fictional truths have as much valency as actual. I have not come to the point where I can say that Truth is Diegesis.  I should say that veracity in fiction is deeper than verisimilitude; it carries metaphysical weight; it has epistemological density. But these are not the only points. Hypotheses are presented all the time in politics and law; the Constitution of the United States when subject to ratification was a hypothesis subject to the most critical examinations. It took a great deal of intellectual effort to get The Constitution ratified. The majority ruling in the case does not become invalid for us epistemologically, ethically, no; it remains valid in its thesis.

Nonetheless, the prime thesis here in any discussion of a woman’s right to choose is Woman is.