The Uterati

The Uterati

Kimberly Dark (Department of Sociology, California State University San Marcos, San Marcos, CA, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 6
DOI: 10.4018/ijudh.2012100103
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The Uterati is a 25 minute solo performance script that emerged from an autoethnographic writing process during the time of the authors’ diagnosis and subsequent hysterectomy for uterine fibroid tumors. The script is at once comedic and political as it portrays specific aspects of their autoethnographic research on the body and healthcare, including: (1) Who decides the usefulness of a body part; (2) “Fidelity” to relationship norms and to oneself; and (3) Confrontation with the possibility of death as one delays medical care in order to weigh options.
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I used writing as a method of inquiry (Richardson, 2000) to explore not only my personal experience with medical doctors, but also the cultural and metaphysical meanings of hysterectomy in the United States. The performance, including audience interaction regarding “the uterus” as a cultural location, was also meant to complicate “the uterus” as merely an organ in the female body over which the doctor exercises domain by deeming it no longer useful once a woman is past childbearing age or no longer desires to give birth.

How many times can I be told I don’t need it?

You don’t need it, you know.

Do you want to have more children? No? You don’t need it.

It’s not good for anything.

You don’t need it.

My mother said “They’re a dime a dozen.”

And went right on talking.

I said Whoa, whoa. Did you just tell me my uterus is a dime a dozen?

It’s big like a pineapple, sort of pineapple shaped and I imagine it would be spiny, if it could be.

Big like a breadfruit,

Big like a cantaloupe.

It seemed small for a while, like a star fruit.

But now it’s big again and the doctor said that when it was small, it was just my imagination anyway.

It just gets bigger, he said. It doesn’t get smaller and then bigger again and then smaller.

He said it was big like a pumpkin.

But that really, it was no big deal. Lots of women have large fibroid tumors. They’re not dangerous. They’re no big deal. We’ll just take the uterus out and then you won’t have them anymore.

We just take the uterus out.

You don’t need it for anything and,

You get to keep your ovaries.

It’s the uterus you don’t need.

One new age book on physical ailments said that uterine fibroids were caused by a lover’s infidelity.

So what do I do about that?

What do I do about my lover’s infidelity?

And how that can put fruit in my belly.

How stupid is that?

Her infidelity,

Her infidelity is like a phoenix that rises from every fire with its great strength, beating its huge wings of fear and making her look to the next or the last, or the next or the last lover because that’s easier than looking at me.

The phantom fingers of her love tight around my throat, holding me still with her,

I am still with her,

I am still,

With her always looking away to the next lover – the last lover.

Not anymore,

Her hand is gone from my throat but she leaves a collar, I attach the leash,

And I am still with her,

I am STILL with her,

Though the stillness in me about her gets stronger with distance,

With time,

Sometimes I still think:

It's her infidelity, damn it,

What can I do about that?

But it's my infidelity to myself.

What can I do about that?

It’s muscle you know.

The fibroids are muscle because this part of the body needs bolstering since,

There is no good ad campaign for it.

Everyone says,

You don’t need it.

So it needs to muscle itself, become strong.

If someone says You don’t need it.

It says Say what you want. I am strong.

Are you going to have any more children?

Then you don’t need it.

This is what it’s for.

It’s a place to grow children,

It’s a flowerpot,

A wet, paper mache coat for a baby, growing, always changing,

Always making welcome,

It’s a place to grow children.

And once the children have outgrown the little uterus coat they needed to wear to keep the elements away, you unbutton the coat and put it away in the trunk.

You put it away and pretend it’s not making anyone warm anymore.

You don’t need it.

You can throw it away, if there’s no more space to keep it.

And oh, my painful body is running out of room.

{Go to the audience},

Let me just stop right now and tell you, lest you have forgotten that,

All the theater is real,

We are indeed talking about MY uterus.

And we are also talking about your uterus.

Even if you're a man, I'm talking about your uterus, okay?

(See, my doctor, who is a man, always tells me,

“You don't NEED your uterus.”

And I say,

“No, no, no, you don't need YOUR uterus.”)

Do you understand what I'm talking about here?

[Ask audience member: what do you know about the uterus? Or clarify: give me one uterine fact.” Ask a woman, “Tell me about your uterus.”}

Did you know that 600,000 uteruses each year are removed from women's bodies in America?

And see, you only get one, and it doesn't grow back, so that's 600,000 new women each year,

left without a uterus.

How many of you know a woman who's had a hysterectomy?

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