What is it that makes a woman? I do deny on occaision being female, as far as I’m concerned on many issues I’ve opted out of the gender question; is it any easier to have dropped out of the horrible stereotypes than to claim womanhood and fight against them openly. Course it has to be said I’ve never really associated being female with being a woman; to me being female is asking those damn silly questions like ‘Where are you going’ when your boyfriend is going to the loo or asking ‘does my bum look big in this when you’re going to kick up a fuss about anything he answers: occaisionally my sister excels in being female. But then for the past couple of weeks I’ve been being randomly female about various things. Then it pisses people off when I claim womanhood because they see it as being inconsistent.
Woman. It’s an interesting word, you can tell if someone is really screwed up about her gender if she spells it with a ‘y’, kind of like adding a ‘k’ on the end of ‘magic’. I mean primarily its about genitalia I guess. I am a woman with my boobs and bits. But it doesn’t make me a woman does it? My ability to procreate by creating life inside me, is that what makes me a woman? I’ve never been too hung up on the idea of children, certainly I’ve never done the polarity thing mand-woman fecundity thing making me a woman…well my sex life will bare me out on that one.
So why am I so secure in my identity? How do I know I’m Mish, woman, me? I introduced myself yesterday to one of Muppet Boy’s friends as ‘Mish, I’m like nobody you’re ever going to meet.’ Thats not actually true, but I’m beginning to believe that not many people actually notice that I’m like a lot of other people.Patterns jus don’t get observed. I’m a woman and I love being a woman. It doesn’t just come down to genitalia, its about something else. It must be about something else or else how can anyone who’s trans make a judgement? How can anyone who’s born hermaphrodite decide or know that they’re not either sex?
What makes me a woman? Hormone levels? Some infinite subtle understanding about the universe? I am not womanly, well ok insert boob joke here, but I meant in my manner. I can be girly and I can do sexual but womanly seems to pass me by yet I know that I am a woman. This seems to be an integral certainty, I don’t think that there is anything that can change it.
I’m glad about that.
3 thoughts on “Definitions”
We have a mismatch in terms of terminology… I’ve always thought of what you call being "female" as being feminine, and what you call womanly as being female. That aside…
I used to reckon I was never feminine but I was always somewhat proud to be female (which is roughly the same as what you call being a woman… Different terminology, same difference). Being girly is feminine (I think our reference points start to diverge now…) – I am seldom girly, but certainly more than I used to be.
Being a woman/female? Think of a lioness. She goes out and brings home enough to feed everyone, she nurtures and protects, but woe betide ye if you even come within scenting distance of her cubs – a "feminine" reaction is not on the cards.
I guess I associate being a woman or being female with nurturing and protecting those you love more than actual procreation… I know that men do it too, but am I being hopelessly sexist if I consider that (in general and excluding exceptional circumstances) women are more likely to treat it as full-time job meets vocation?
Now that I see what I’ve written, I realise that this is my theory circa about 1998, and some of my concepts have changed with the benefit of time and experience… Being a woman is not something you are born with. It is something you become, as you are moulded by your life experience. Something you almost have to grow into… I’m sure I have an appropriate quote somewhere along the lines of "Women are not born, they are made". But my bookshelves are currently in a complete state….
Anyways – I found it – "One is not born a woman. One becomes one", Simone de Beauvoir (quiet down at the back – I’ve never read anything she’s ever written…)
I do believe that. There is a transition somewhere between being a girl and being a woman that is not directly connected to age, and a lot of us play hopscotch with on a regular basis… Realising that the line is there, and accepting that jumping over it as and when you need to is one of the better parts part of this screwy thing we call life… If I was getting new-age about the whole thing, I might mention transcending the line, and becoming one with both aspects of your yada-yada-yada but I don’t even know what that means. In the blagging trade we call this taking an analogy just that one step too far. 😉
And Mish? I think you’re definitely womanly. In a way that has nothing whatsoever to do with physical shape or sex. Face it – in some situations, nuturing doesn’t begin to cover it. 🙂
Terminology aside as you’ve said, I agree I think with what you’ve written.
To explain some of what I wrote, whilst I was going through the eleven/twelve tomboy stage I didn’t like to be thought of as feminine (obviously had read too much CS Lewis), later on I figured that feminine was a part of who am.
However to me feminine covers sexual nature and girly (make-up, clothes) as well as what I term ‘female’ ie. the asking difficult questions, the tying men up in knots (not literally!) and twisting meanings to suit yourself or not suit yourself.
So I would say I picked up the bits I liked and tried not to pick up the bits that I didn’t.
Nurturing is an interesting word and not one I associated with myself to be honest. Protecting yes, watching over my friends and making sure they’re ok, that I’d associate with myself. Nuturing…I dunno, for me it has conotations of children.
I don’t think you’re being sexist to associate that with being a woman although possibly you’re a little generalised.
Now you’ve quoted a woman I much admire, de Beauvoir is what I wanted to call the hamster downstairs (she’s called Satre). I agree, woman is who you become, not quite who you’re born.
I’m not entirely sure what you meant about nuturing not covering it but thankyou anyway.
NB: Forgive me if I go off on a slightly disconnected ramble about women’s rights and so forth because you’ve got my brain heading in that direction now.
In some ways I can be seen to a ‘girly’ girl. I wear makeup, skirts and high heels. I can cook. I sew. I knit.
Having said that, I also wear Doc Martins, wear trousers, wear rugby shirts. I like to paint models, I like football and formula 1 racing and at times will go for days without wearing makeup or styling my hair.
So in terms of traditional pastimes I appear to fit both the male and the female stereotype at the same time. Intriguing.
I do what I enjoy. I wear what I feel comfortable in. I do feel outraged by atrocities against women and their repression in other countries because I was raised to believe that I could do anything I wanted if I put my mind to it.
The seemingly obligatory ‘in spite of being a woman’ clause was left out of my up bringing. My being female was never an issue when discussing what I wanted to do with my life.
Some girls appear to have been raised to believe that they must NOT knit/sew/cook and they MUST do Engineering and Sciences at University because to ‘revert to type’ is an insult to the suffragettes.
Womens rights is about having a choice. I choose to knit. I am not made to. I choose not to do sciences at University. It’s not that I am not able to or not allowed to.
The pastimes I have do not make me a women, despite the fact they are traditional feminine employments of time. I learned to sew because it was useful. I learned to knit because I saw mum making me clothes as a kid and wanted to make some myself. I learned to cook because I was damn well hungry. I did not do these things to ‘make myself more of a woman’.
So back to the question – what makes me a woman. My body chemistry I guess. *shrugs*
Sometimes I wonder whether I should follow Mish’s example in opting out of the gender definition and just being ‘me’, but on the other hand, I feel no compulsion to do so. Am happy with being what I am. I don’t feel any compulsion to rebell against what I am doing and I don’t feel the weight of society’s expectations weighing down on me.
I have nothing to protest about (on my own accord – womens rights issues in other countries is another matter). So I don’t protest, even though I can see exactly what Mish means by wanting to opt out of the gender definition.
*comes to the end of her ramble*
Did I have a relevant point? I’ve forgotten now…