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THE FICTION OF A THINKABLE WORLD: Body, Meaning, and the Culture of Capitalism by Michael Steinberg
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|No Way in My Manger:
A Public Service Annunciation
by Susie Day
My name is Mary. Not the Mary of Had-a-Little-Lamb fame. Holy Mary.
Or, if you will, Maria. But not Maria as in The Sound of Music. Ave Maria. You know, Mother of God? Queen of Heaven? Our Lady of Perpetual Boundary Issues?
You might remember me from such codependent masterpieces as the Pietà and nine billion paintings depicting the braless Madonna and blessed breast-fed children. Boys, all boys. Which reminds me: I want to talk about abortion rights.
Don't get me wrong: motherhood is a noble profession. But I didn't choose it. That's the point, here.
Looking back, I haven't done much with my life except reproduce -- once. For some reason, this makes me the eternal, long-suffering maternal archetype. Every second, I get prayers for help from bazillions of needy depressives. These people never think to ask me about my possible empty-nest syndrome, my take on global warming, or whether I've managed, after all these years, to graduate college. They mostly want a favor from The Man, and they need me to intercede. Screw that.
I am too through with being the nurturing female progenitor embedded in Western Culture's incessantly whining collective unconscious. I am bigger than that -- I am an individual, dammit, and I want to actualize my potential. I want to learn skydiving and play Angry Birds and occupy Wall Street and I want to bust Bradley Manning out of jail. But you are making that difficult.
That's because most of you, people of Western Culture -- regardless of your religious beliefs or lack thereof -- continue to harbor some mental image of me, the obsessively giving Virgin, as your model for Greatness through Sacrifice. You got to abort this image, you fuckers. This is not only to save the life of the Mother; it's for you, too. Especially you rad-lib activist types.
And please don't ask me how the Baby Jesus would feel. How should I know? My son the messiah -- he never calls, he never writes.
Well, who can blame him? As a parent, I was way too controlling, something you can't always see in those paintings. I forced that kid to live out my dreams: "I don't care how much fun those kids are having, Jesus, you're going to sit there until you heal that leper."
I admit it; I was frustrated and demanding. I mean, hell, people always said I was the one with the charisma.
You question my story? Fine, check the record. At fourteen, I was married off to a much older man. I went through with it because I had no choice. If I didn't, I might have gotten stoned in the marketplace -- and not in a good way. A few days later, some angel comes around selling Bibles. Sticks his foot in the door and says, "You're gonna like this book, tootsie -- it's got your name in it!" Then he shows me that part in the book of Luke where it says, "Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God."
Whoa, what newlywed pubescent would not want to hear that? Then I read the part that said I was going to "bring forth" a son: "the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee . . . and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee."
Yeah, right: "Overshadow." Funny how you don't hear that word much in rape crisis centers. Whatever. I didn't want to hurt God's feelings, so even though I'm Jewish, I bought the leather-bound deluxe King James Version. Angel threw in a free vacuum cleaner. Long story short, couple days later in the mail I get a Candygram. So, not thinking, I unwrap a chocolate-covered cherry and -- BLAMMO -- I'm, what they call, "overshadowed."
So I become another pregnant teenager. No, wait -- I become THE pregnant teenager. The cosmic bun-in-oven-who-me avatar. You'd think I would feel radiant and fulfilled, but I feel like crap. That's because, for over two thousand years, the fundamental moral foundation of Western Culture has been the fact that little Mary of Nazareth was forcibly impregnated by the Holy Ghost -- and freaking went along with it. Thank god that idiot Todd Akin said, a few months back, that thing about "legitimate rape." Because of him, it suddenly dawned on me: Yeah, I really DO have ways to "shut that whole thing down."
So you know what? Today's Virgin is taking pro-choice to whole new levels. She is pro-choosing her own friggin' self. I am aborting my own divinely fertilized, all-accepting, glass-slipper-fetishizing archetype. And I would strongly advise you peeps of Western Culture to do the same. Because that thing is never going to grow up to be a person.
Susie Day is a writer.