Thursday, October 15, 2009

What It Means to Be a Woman

Big topic, huh? Not my usual fare. But Miss Liz of Eternal Lizdom has invited me to join a blog chain, and I love it when people invite me! Plus, this will take me in a different direction; stretch my writing muscles a little, as it were.

What does it mean to be a woman? Simplistically, it means having a period. I developed this working definition for myself back in college. This was in the first flowering of Political Correctness, and it was simply too much for me when a male friend of mine referred to a group of 2nd graders as "women." I immediately took offense. "Girl" is not a dirty word; it exists for a reason! I was highly insulted at the idea that years of wrestling with sex-starved boyfriends and a twisting uterus could be so minimized, just by giving those prepubescent innocents the same label as I.

I suppose that was the beginning of my realizing that "woman" means more than body parts. And, you know, some might say I'm barely qualified to opine on the subject. For one thing, I've pretty much left the whole man/woman communication/power struggle behind. By being in a relationship with another woman, I've lost the need for "his" and "her" distinctions at home.

For another thing, I'm not a mother, and never plan to be one. In most human societies, womanhood equals motherhood. From what I can tell, motherhood (and fatherhood) completely redefines a person.

So what does that leave me, as a woman, other than a twisting uterus? Oh, just a whole lot of image problems and guilt! Seriously, being a woman in 21st-century America is complicated, since society is changing so rapidly. I have a job, but not really a career; I have clothes, but not really a wardrobe; I have facial soap, perfume, jewelry etc., but not really any fashion sense (or interest!).

In short, it's hard to nail down, and as a 21st-century American woman, I'm really busy (two jobs, household, blogging, etc.) So I'm going to be stupid efficient: I'll give you some dots, and let you connect them!

For me, being a woman means...

...freaking out men by talking about things like "uterus" and "menstruation."

...getting used to being referred to as a "lady" instead of a "girl;" going from "Miss" to "Ma'am."

...comparing myself to my mother.

...reminding men that I'm here, too.

...using the "p" word, but only with very, very close friends.

...shocking men with the "f" word every once in a while.

...deciding to age naturally.

...hating my body (there, I said it).

...feeling like a second-class citizen as a childless woman.

...being glad I don't have to "woman up" or "be a woman."

...laughing at men for their obsession with size.

...appreciating the freedom to wear pants, hold a job and own property.

...changing my mind a lot.

...changing my clothes a lot.

...understanding the need for 5 pairs of black heels.

...fearing strange men in the dark.

...learning to crouch over public toilets (good for the quads!).

...being confused, intimidated, frustrated and disgusted by fashion.

...blaming men, unfairly, for high heels.

...being proud to be descended from my grandmothers.

...empathizing with women around the world who are abused & oppressed.

...being jealous of beautiful women.

...being misunderstood by my brother.

...confusing the hell out of my father.

...not being able to get married.

...having an instant connection with other women (see #1)

...dancing in public if I want to.

...needing to talk.

...learning to cry.

...knowing how to put on a bra.

...not being afraid to touch other people.

...being able to sing "Roxanne."

...being included in a warm, caring & supportive group of bloggers who understand the need for kind words and emotional support.


  1. What a powerful list. You done good with this topic!! I smiled and laughed and teared up and got chills. You really captured a lot of the essence of womanhood and I think your list gives a lot of insight into who you are- as a woman and as a person.

  2. Wow! OK, so I've been married twice, have a daughter, and am about to become a grandmother, but we're not so different, you and I! That's a great post.

    Nancy, a friend in Iowa
    p.s. - my WV is gyniman - funny!!!!!

  3. What a breath of fresh air this was, and your thoughts totally warmed a smile upon my face this morning!

    I'm glad you shared such a fascinating perspective. You just hooked me as a reader! :)

  4. That is a serious list! Great job. I like getting to know you better.

  5. I'm not a mother of any humans, and never had any maternal instincts. I love being a mother to my animals though. I no longer have periods and wow, it's great.

  6. Love you, Flarty. Yer Pal, Fred

  7. Awesome post, I can so relate it's not even funny. I'm blessed to be Mom to a bunch of children not my own, but no less precious to me. May not always like them, but will always, always love them. It's just part of my DNA. I'm very maternal in nature, which is why so many people consider me a Mom. And to be honest I only WISH I no longer had periods, cause yeah, it would so totally be great!

  8. I'm with Mom L. We're not so different at all.


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