Photo Credit Lily & Henry Photography
Us ladyfolk are raised to be nice and docile and domesticated, so to suggest biting as a means for our voices to be heard seems so wrong, so unnecessary, so forbidden.
For the record, I’m not a big fan of hurting another human and so I found my reaction to something my daughter did when she was 18 months old, super interesting.
Let me explain.
My daughter has golden curls and hates for her hair to be washed or brushed. From a distance, they are exquisite curly symbols of an innocent childhood.
On closer inspection, you’ll notice that her curls are actually matted, fluff-filled, twisted dreadlocks.
Her state of mane dishevelment doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it bothers my husband. He often tries to comb her hair. He attempts to do this under stealth with sedative techniques that usually involve a YouTube clip (Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom is the go-to parental remedy in our house) or more often but with less success, a picture book.
His stealth operation rarely works.
One evening, she was beautifully immersed in a book sitting on the couch next to her daddy.
Seizing on the misguided hope that her one-pointed book wormery might breed complacency in other areas, he stealthily reached over to wrangle the mangle.
She felt him trying to pull the comb through her knots and turned her head suddenly, peered straight up into his face and gave him THE LOOK.
You know the one. The one that feels like your soul is being told off.
For a full five seconds she glared at him with all the feisty fire of an Enraged Teeny Weeny Empress.
He backed off and quite satisfied with the effectiveness of her communication, she turned back to her book.
Persistent Daddy waited until she was engaged again with the life-cycle of a hungry caterpillar before trying a second time.
This time she pushed his hand away and said fiercely “NOPE!”
He backed off. And then….. 5….. 4….. 3….. 2….. 1.
Yeah. You guessed it.
He tried again.
And my gorgeous, petite, angelic, golden-haired child grabbed his hand and bit him. Hard. Really hard. Those sharp baby teeth sinking into one of his delicate, long fingered, pianist-potentialled hands.
My husband yelped while my heart sang. I couldn’t have been more pleased with her act of violence towards her daddy.
Relief flooded my body as I thought about her life stages and all the fucksticks who might consider preying on her:
A boy in the park pulling her hair at 8.
A random guy in a bar stroking her bum on the dancefloor at 17.
A manager coming up behind her chair and putting his hands on her shoulders, thumbs against her neck at 24.
And all my smug bits lit up as I imagined her pearly white teeth sinking into their soft, stupid flesh.
If I smoked, it would be a big fat one right now.
Meanwhile, my dear, wounded husband looked at me with broken eyes, beseeching me to tell her off.
I refused. I told him he had earned that bite.
I know, I know. No one deserves a bite, right? But before you crucify me in your minds Judge and Jury, let’s investigate a potential non-violent solution here.
Even though she was doing nothing wrong and was in fact being a model member of society, she could have gotten off the couch – she could have moved away from the threat. But, and you know it without even seeing his rap sheet, Persistent Daddy would surely have followed her.
Members of the Jury, she did communicate her lack of consent not once, but twice, before she opted for a violent solution.
I ask you Your Honour, How Many Times and In How Many Ways, should she need to tell someone No?
Not for the first time since becoming a mother, I learnt something profound from my daughter.
It is our birthright to protect ourselves. And guess what? We don’t need permission or the kiss of society to do it.
I realised too, that the anti-violence rhetoric I have been sold can stop me fighting when in fact I need to fight – I’m talking oppression, racism, sexism and stupidism here.
Of course, fighting doesn’t always mean biting someone or hitting them in the face with my fist. A metaphorical or literal Back Off can be so liberating, while reminding people that I will not bow down to political correctness or engage in acquiescent behaviour that hurts me, simply to keep their peace.
My daughter’s act of toothy defiance reminded me that she had full sovereignty over her body and from that moment on, I vowed to never stifle her instinct to protect herself. I learnt too that my daughter was born a warrior, a fighter, a biter.
Which means somewhere, underneath all my conditioning, my forced docility and my worn down compliance, there is a fierce biter in me too. And it’s time I welcomed those chompers back home.
So if you ever meet us Empresses at the park, in a bar or behind a desk, there will be no Beware sign at the gates to our minds, mouths and bodies.
But take this as your fair warning.
Look, but don’t touch. We nurture biters here.
I need to hear more stories about strong women leading beauty-filled and spiritual lives, and so I created Empress Crow and Rabbit. It’s a forum to showcase the inspirational stories of women in uniquely feminine careers. It's also a bridge between what we think we know and what we feel is right. Thank you for joining me – let’s all learn, grow and celebrate the feminine together.
Photo credit: Lucy Spartalis