Stranger Things 2 & The Mother Wound

My husband and I just finished Stranger Things 2, and since I get an extra hour of night, have had 2+ beers which is probably the equivalent of a six pack in some people, let's talk about the giant vagina wound in the season finale of Stranger Things 2 and The Mother Wound, and hope that when I re-read this when I am sober that I do not feel the need to edit out words like "vagina" or this whole post in general.

First, because I am slightly intoxicated let's ignore that when I googled "the mother wound" to remind myself of the meaning of a term that I haven't heard since undergrad but has stuck with me since, probably because I lost my own mother in undergrad, that the first source that came up that I found merit in was from Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop. Let's blame the beer. 

With that out of the way, let's all get up to speed on what The Mother Wound is:

"At the macro level, the mother wound is a matrilineal wound—a burden that manifests in mothers, and is passed on from generation to generation. It’s the pain and grief that grows in a woman as she tries to explore and understand her power and potential in a society that doesn’t make room for it, forcing her to internalize the dysfunctional coping mechanisms learned by previous generations of women. The mother wound reflects the challenges a woman faces as she goes through transformations in her life in a society where the patriarchy has denied us ongoing matrilineal knowledge and structures."

Let's also add that The Mother Wound is intensified when the mother is absent, which is why this concept stuck with me for so long, as I came into adulthood and lost my own mother at exactly the same time (age 20, which in a society where people don't start "adulting" till about age 30, is more or less emotional puberty these days). What does one do when they don't have a solid mother figure while on the cusp of becoming an actual adult and not just a biological one capable of reproducing and having funny stirrings about people one finds attractice? Drink a lot of alcohol and make bad choices in the dating field, to start, but in general meander around like a fool not knowing how to "debut" into the adult world properly, IE, make a crap ton of stupid mistakes. I get that everyone makes some stupid decisions in their early 20's (or the whole damn decade), but when you're 20 and grieving your mother, step aside son, I probably made more. 

ANYWAY. Stranger Things 2. Here we have a girl, Eleven, who has lost her mother thanks to evil goons who shock the shit out of her mom's brain when she tries to get back her child, which, as a mother, I totally get, and I, too, might draw guns on assholes who kidnap my daughter. DON'T TOUCH MY DAUGHTER. Anyway. Her mother is taken from her, and while not dead, as Eleven discovers, is addled beyond reach. Eleven grew up with "Papa," who neither taught her to be female nor human, so Eleven is kind of super fucked and ends up murdering lots of people, but in the fairness of fiction land, they were bad people. See: Kali's logic.

When Eleven (Jane! By god call the girl by the name her poor electroshocked mother gave her) meets a "sister," Kali, who was a fellow lab specimen with special powers, Kali manifests Papa to tell Jane that there is a wound inside her that will never heal, and that wound will kill her if she doesn't face it. Kali's solution to "face it" is murderizing all the goons.

We of the slightly more moral high ground, having not been gooned all our lives, can veer away from murdering other kids' parents, and steer back to our pumpkin-beer driven discussion of metaphorical vagina wounds. So, let's go back to the idea that The Mother Wound is an inherited wound that will seep into a girl's experience of herself and poison her ability to live authentically thanks to the restraints of our patriarchal culture. On the literal level, Jane's wound is the damage done to her by Papa and his Dr. Mengele-esque treatment of her, denying her a normal life and the mother who loves her. On the metaphorical level, Jane is The Mother Wound manifested, the absence of a mother-guide on how to be human (and female), and the absence of a mother, period. This wound LITERALLY takes the shape of a giant vagina that Jane has to seal to "close the gate" and save her friends, because her mother wound has become so toxic and out of control that it is hollowing out the town and killing everyone. Interestingly enough, Jane is a side-story in this whole season until the very end, which also plays into the idea that The Mother Wound is in-part manifested from the sidelining of women in society. As Goop interviewee Dr. Oscar Serrallach puts it:

“This [patriarchal culture] tells females not to shine, to remain small; and that if you are going to try and be successful, that you should be masculine about it.”

Jane was looking pretty dang masculine in that black blazer and slicked-back hair when she kicks some Mother Wound ass. Once she closes the giant flaming vagina wound, we see her again looking - hooray! - feminine and "pretty" (there' some issues with this word from season one, but here it's a fitting metaphor for grasping one's femininity by the ovaries, so soldier through) because the wound is cured, and she doesn't have to be masculine to stake out her space (season three better follow suit and give her back the starring role).

Somewhere in here I should consider my own Mother Wound, especially now that I am a mother and don't want to shortchange my daughter in the experience of being a woman (should she decide she is one - because I love that kid no matter what) (more parenthesis, there is also issue with the experience of toxic masculinity in our culture - can we call it The Penis Wound? - but that's another post. STOP CENTERING YOURSELVES MENS THIS IS A POST ABOUT LADIES). Ahem, my daughter. I want her to know she is perfect and glorious as she is, and however she will be, whoever she will be. That about covers the list of things she needs to know to help heal The Mother Wound. I'm up to the challenge of imparting that knowledge. After the hangover I'm sure to experience passes.

I am now into my third beer and thinking: look at how few typos I've made! I think some of these sentences made sense! I think I've used the word "vagina" at least three times! I used to go to The Flying Saucer and drink like five beers and be fine! I am a light weight! I want ice cream! I better hit publish now, lest I second guess myself in the morning and tell myself I am stupid and this is drivel! I don't care! God bless you, pumpkin beer and extra hour of night.