21 March 2011

Hot water and sisterhood

Sitting yesterday afternoon in the Korean sauna I go to, I was struck by a realization.
Let me first give you a picture of the space: walking into the bathing area in the women's locker room, the lights dim and you enter a space that is exclusively feminine, a space no man may enter.
To one side are showers, where women of varying ages and bodies scrub down before entering the hot, tepid, and cold pools, the dry and wet saunas, the UV-ray area, or paying for a massage or body scrub. Women sit beside each other, laughing and talking and scrubbing one anothers' backs and washing one anothers' hair.

I am soaking in the hot pool, letting my injured shoulder float languidly and take the pressure off of my healing clavicle and it's intrusive, supportive titanium pin. Gigi floats beside me, her beautiful red hair plastered close to her classical face by the heat, and we simply lie together for a while, not this moment in direction contact but connected by a sense of feminine community.
Around us, throughout the bathing area, are women. Aged women with baby-fine skin and long, low breasts showing the marks of childrearing. Thin women with tight stomachs and pert,small breasts. Heavy women with rounded bellies and deep, wide thighs. Women with long, glossy black hair and golden skin. Women with waist-length locks and rounded buttocks. Deep brown skin, golden skin, pale skin. Hair in every shade from red to brown to black to blonde, a rainbow of tattoos and piercings sitting alongside conservative Asian women. It is a rainbow of women in every shade and every style, in a community which is connected without needing words.

Even children are here, running freely under the indulgent eyes of their mothers and grandmothers and aunts, and every other woman in the room. Here, they learn community, learn the diversity of their gender and the beauty of every body. Here they laugh and bathe and soak and learn that their bodies are safe spaces, homes for their souls and places in which they live.

It is also a curiously asexual space. No, asexual is wrong. A as a prefix means "without", and this space is not without sex. It is non-sexual. Sex simply has no place here. It is... irrelevant, for lack of a better word. Even I, one of the most sexual creatures I know, look at the bodies around me- a smorgasboard in another place or time- and see only sisters, not lovers.
It is a curiously comforting sensation, to bathe in a potent brew of hot water and community.

Caveat: I am aware that the Asian spas (at least those I've visited) are transphobic places, and I understand that my use of them is an exercise of cisgendered privilege. I'm sorry, my trans friends.

No comments:

Post a Comment

About Me

My photo
I am just your ordinary average every day sane psycho supergoddess