At 29 years of age, I think I would be confident enough to say that I have experienced plenty of what life has to offer those of us who are born into a certain denomination of humanity.
While I have been very lucky being born into a family where my parents allowed me the freedom of my own thoughts and encouraged me to be the individual I am today, I’ve always hated the fact that since the day my Mother held me in her loving arms, I have been pigeon-holed.
I have been contained into a certain gender. It almost makes me feel like I have some sort of condition. “Oh its a girl, lets buy pink” – my colours already chosen for me. Picked up, boxed up, packaged and lined. Pulled at, picked at it, blow-dried and straightened. Coloured, crimped, bleached and dyed. My layers hidden beneath, a mystery.
The great mystery of a woman.
When you look at a woman, you see the boxes, the packages and the lining. You see the colours in her perfectly placed make-up. The way the sun catches the strands of her hair. You see how neatly she is put together, her outfit a reflection of how she’s feeling on any given day.
What you don’t see, is the person that lies beneath all of the masking and the hiding.
When you think of a woman – what do you see? Is she a Mother? Is she a daughter, a wife, a girlfriend? Is she a human? If you can’t answer this question with one solid definition, then how can you expect her to know what she is, or who she is?
Is being a woman something of an evolution? You are born into this world as someones daughter, then you become someones wife, someones Mother, a Grandmother and finally someones goodbye. All the while, you are doing your business on this earth under someone else’s name, someone else’s idea of what your life should be. A woman tries to define herself, first under her Fathers name, and then under her husbands, if she chooses to. Must she always be subjected to putting your thoughts and feelings before her own, just for an easy life? Is this the constitution to which she will only ever belong?
To me, being a woman is difficult. But it is everything that is needed in this world. It is trying to be what the world wants you to be until you have exhausted yourself, or they call you crazy. It is also being tender and open and vulnerable. I find that women are all too commonly told to sssshhh, to hush up. Don’t say this, don’t say that. Don’t show their emotions or worse; don’t truly feel them. You may be seen as too sensitive, too mushy, too this, too that. We try desperately to defend ourselves when someone says “Oh she’s too high maintenance” or “she’s too much like hard work” or “she’s too loud, too opinionated”.
So what if you are?
Who deserves a person in their life that thinks that little about them? That is their ignorance. That they can’t bother to work themselves towards knowing and understanding a woman better. To understanding a person better. Don’t defend yourself against these people. That’s not for you to worry about.
Every single woman I know in my life is beautiful, sensitive and caring. But better still – they are creative, independent and they know what they want. I am so thankful that I come from a family of strong women on both sides, because they taught me that you should never let someone steal your tenderness, your vulnerability or what it means to be a woman, from you. That you are who you are, and never make any apologies for that. To never let anyone else’s coldness or fear or opinion of what a woman should be, reflect on yourself.
Yes, to be a woman is to be vulnerable. But so what? Doesn’t your heart beat the same as anyone else’s? Isn’t it beating there to remind you to drive yourself out into the world and to do everything you want to do. Let yourself be affected by things you see and hear and feel on a daily basis. If it’s a song, a person you just met, a film you watched or something you read – let it affect you. Just because a person can’t understand your mystery, your personality, your quirks or your beliefs – that’s their problem not yours.
Just because society reinforces this misguided idea about you, it doesn’t mean that you should settle for a lesser place in it.
Being a woman should not be about being kept apart or excluded from anything that she may want to do. I still don’t understand why today it is so difficult for society to detach a woman from her family. Why she is so often judged by her remarkable ability to juggle family, career and her personal life. Why she is judged for her sexuality, or her decisions to not have a family if she so chooses. Things have changed so much in the last 100 years for women but that’s because they have made it that way. They have brought about the changes in society that is unfairly inflicted on them, that never should have been there in the first place.
Being a woman gives you the mystery of life. You get to experience growing another human inside your own body, bringing them into this world and being their teacher. But only if you want to – Your body is your own property; not someone else’s vessel.
You get to be the feminine presence in any child’s life; the soft touch, the cuddle of reassurance and the perspective from which they can look at the world differently. You don’t have to be their birth mother to do this, which is amazing in itself.
Being a woman embodies all that is giving and selfless, without ever asking any questions.
I am happy to say that I don’t have to experience negatively what it is to be a woman because I choose not to identify with “gender roles” or to allow any person (not just men) to have any input or say, into who they think I should be, but rather allowing myself to see the world by what is relevant to me. It is my life, my lesson – not anyone else’s.
Some people might say thats a typical bratty, stubborn response. But growing up, like many young women similar to me, I found that my gender imposed expectations and certain behaviours upon me, before I even understood what they meant.
To be a woman is to be allowed the freedom to explore and discover my own definition of what it means to be a woman; what it means to be me.
Instead of restricting her ability, why not allow a woman to associate her gender with freedom and autonomy? Why not let her instead, focus on being a human and embracing all of who she is? Let her make it her own interpretation.
Have you ever looked at the relationship between women? Have you ever felt excluded from this tightly knit, unbreakable bond they have with one another. I think if you sat down with a woman in your life and tried to attain this level of friendship before you attain anything else, you would be amazed and opened up to a whole new way of seeing her. You’ll find you want to talk to her, you’ll want to have lunch with her. You will want to hear every little story and detail of what has happened in her day. You’ll stop associating her individuality with being something you don’t understand, or just can’t be bothered to listening to. You’ll begin to really see the person behind the gender, not just what her relationship is to you. The fact that when we strip everything away – we are all the same, no matter what gender we are born under.
There is magic in a woman. A mystery that is there for discovering. So when you look at her, remember not what she was wearing, but the colour of her beautiful eyes and the way she looked at you. Remember not what she didn’t say to you, but rather what her expressions did. Remember not what you thought her smile meant, but rather what her tears did, that fell afterwards. Remember to have compassion for her as a human, not pity for her “condition” of what you think it is to be a woman.
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
“Phenomenal Woman” – Maya Angelou.
* To every woman reading this – no matter what age you are – You are beautiful and you are worthy! And if you only realised how beautiful you really are, you would fall at your own feet.*