What does it mean to be a woman to me?
I picked up a book from the library that I thought would give me relationship advice a few weeks ago. I finally had the opportunity to open it today and I was shocked about how completely off-base and old-fashioned it was. It got me thinking about what being a woman means to me. And, to be fair, my idea of what being a woman has changed over time. The things I thought I first thought I wanted....I've come to realize I don't. Looking back, I've realized that I fell victim to social pressure, marketing, and a culture that exists to sell a certain perspective.
So in my opinion, here is what society tells women:
1. They must be mothers.
2. They must try to look beautiful, thin/in shape, and young as long as they possibly can.
3. They need to find rich and successful men to be rich and successful themselves.
4. Their interests must be feminine.
5. They should put theirs wants and needs behind others in their lives, including their husband/SO/family/children.
6. They are not as funny as men.
7. They are not as capable as men in work environments.
8. They should not want sex as much as men and their sexuality comes second in relationships.
9. They should be in control of the household duties and take it upon themselves to keep things organized and tidy.
10. They should be demure, soft-spoken, and graceful.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming all men for this - women also play into this. In fact, women are the ones who perpetuate a lot of these stereotypes by not actively thinking about the BS we're told to believe.
For example, a friend of mine is a feminist. Even so, we were having a conversation about skincare regimes. I was saying I didn't know much about the topic because it has never really interested me. My friend looked at me as though I'd said the holocaust wasn't real and said, "But Cass! You're going to get wrinkles!" At the time, I just kind of shrugged but on the drive home, I thought our conversation over again. So what if I get wrinkles? Is that not a part of getting older? Is that not natural? How many men worry about getting wrinkles? How many men spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on skincare regime products?
Why is my worth based on if I have wrinkles?
Another common issue I have is with being expected to want children. Because I'm a woman, I'm expected to want to have children and want to do most of the child-rearing. The mothers I've spoken to have had to sacrifice much more than their SOs in terms of their careers, hobbies, friendships, etc. As much as the world would like us to believe that both parents are taking equal care of the kids, in my experience, this is far from the truth. 9/10 the woman takes on most of the work regarding the kids - even if both parents are working. After taking a sober look at the situation for a lot of working mothers, I've decided that I don't want to make that sacrifice and so I will be foregoing children. That doesn't stop people from telling me, "You'll change your mind someday!" Because there will be a drastic societal shift within the next 10 years, right?
So, what does being a woman mean to me, then? It's hard to explain. I feel more as though I'm just a human and I don't really relate to being a woman in any big way. I feel comfortable in my body - but I don't feel comfortable agreeing with a lot of the preconceptions about who I'm supposed to want to be. I guess I've always been this way....I've always been a bit of a tomboy. It's just become more obvious that the path that most women are pushed to walk down, I don't really want any part of it.
And so....here is my list. For today, anyways.
1. Having the freedom and the opportunities to pursue what I'd like.
2. Being treated equal to men in work environments.
3. Not having to worry about being seen as attractive.
4. Not being expected to be a mother.
5. Being in an equal relationship with my partner.
6. Not being seen as less competent because of my sex.
I think these are the basics that I'd like to strive for. I'm sure there are more that I haven't thought about but for now, we'll stick with these. In the meantime, I'm going to try to fight the stereotypes and keep doing what I'm doing. Who knows? Maybe I'll change a mind of two along the way.
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