Rachel Cusk is a Canadian-born novelist and writer who lives and works in the United Kingdom... (wikipedia)
The woman who thinks she can choose femininity, can toy with it like the social drinker toys with wine - well, she's asking for it, asking to be undone, devoured, asking to spend her life perpetrating a new fraud, manufacturing a new fake identity, only this time it's her equality that's fake.
I sometimes feel that the world is a very uncivilised place where it is meant to be at its most civilised. Where it's meant to be intellectual or artistic or compassionate, it isn't, and that makes me very angry.
I think men and women are the same. Even as parents, I think we're the same. We're just conditioned to think that we're different. Having said that, it's true that motherhood is a particularly vulnerable area. It's an open wound, really. A woman is exposed to being turned into a different kind of person by the experience of motherhood.
I was aware, in those early days of motherhood, that my behaviour was strange to the people who knew me well. It was as though I had been brainwashed, taken over by a cult religion. And yet this cult, motherhood, was not a place where I could actually live. Like any cult, it demanded a complete surrender of identity to belong to it.
As it stands, motherhood is a sort of wilderness through which each woman hacks her way, part martyr, part pioneer; a turn of events from which some women derive feelings of heroism, while others experience a sense of exile from the world they knew.
The true self seeks release, not constraint. It doesn't want to be corseted in a sonnet or made to learn a system of musical notations. It wants liberation, which is why very often it fastens on the novel, for the novel seems spacious, undefined, free.
The 'good' mother, with her fixed smile, her rigidity, her goody-goody outlook, her obsession with unnecessary hygiene, is in fact a fool. It is the 'bad' mother, unafraid of a joke and a glass of wine, richly self-expressive, scornful of suburban values, who is, in reality, good.
There is always shame in the creation of an object for the public gaze.
I don't go to church any more, but I think that Catholicism is rather like the brand they use on cattle: I feel so formed in that Catholic mould that I don't think I could adopt any other form of spirituality. I still get feelings of consolation about churches.
The distinctive feature of my family was intolerance of sensitivity and emotion - 'Everything's great, it all has to be great all the time and why do you have to spoil it?' Whereas probably the most fundamental and important thing to me has been defending my right to tell the truth about how I feel.