Define Woman

“You are a woman. Skin and bones. Veins and nerves. Hair and sweat.
You are not made of metaphors. Not apologies. Not excuses. ” – Sarah Kay

Sarah Kay, known for spoken word poetry, wrote a beautiful piece about women. Her poem, The Type, gives a new insight on how women should see themselves.  She wrote in Huffington Post: “Media attention has been paid to what it means to ‘be a woman,’ but often the conversation focuses on what it means to be a woman in relation to others…I believe these relationships are important. I also think it is possible to define ourselves solely as individuals, without comparisons or relationships.”

True enough, women are often defined and valued based on their relationships. This explains how we make labels, ”The Good Wife,” “The Mistress,” “The Other Woman”. For every stage in a woman’s life, her identity is always associated with her relationships. When a woman reaches her mid 20s, people wonder why she does not have a boyfriend. When a woman is at her 40s, people think she is missing a large chunk of her life if she is not married (even if she has a house, career, business, nieces, parties, and friends). When a woman is married, people expect her to have children. Ask a beauty queen, a husband, and a wife on what is the essence of being a woman? They will answer: “It is childbearing or child-rearing ” But how about a woman who cannot bear a child or a woman who remains single by choice or by act of nature?

I have high regard for women who strive to be the best daughter, best girlfriend, best wife, and best mother.  All these roles should be part of our aspiration in life. Our relationships shape our lives and build our character but there is something more than what a relationship has to offer. Yet culture tells us that it should define us.

Society depicts that women should naturally maintain relationship. Hence, when a relationship fails, a woman needs to justify herself. When a married woman is caught having an affair with another man, she is immediately guilty of adultery. But when a married man is caught having an affair with another woman, he is not yet guilty of any extramarital crime. Philippine law states that he is only guilty of concubinage if his affair is under scandalous circumstances. I said to my friend: “So what do we do then? Should we protest? Protest  that we can also have  extramarital affair and not have an automatic crime of adultery like men do, unless we do something scandalous?

woman vir

Define Woman

But how do you define a woman? Is it by length of time she spent on the bathroom? If she knows how to use an eyeliner, then maybe she can call herself a real woman. Two straight men told me that I should know how to apply makeup. It’s an unexpected irony to think that girls are more vocal about grooming and style. My inner self tells me that I shouldn’t groom myself because I am only pleasing the eyes of men (more than my eyes….you don’t get to see yourself as much as the people around you) And when I aim to please the eyes of men, I allow my relationship with others to define me. I allow culture to define me.  I allow society to define me. That for me is a form of oppression.

We all have a shared picture of an ideal woman while we don’t have a concrete picture of what an ideal man should be. Yes, he should be a provider but we can disagree that he does not have to know how to drive,  how to fix electric wires, how to repair a faucet, and how to play basketball. He can be tough yet he can be soft spoken.

I’m afraid I am mistakenly placed in a woman’s body. Apparently, I don’t cook and I’m not domesticated. I am not caring and even if ants love to bite me, I don’t think I’m sweet. I honestly feel I am less of  a woman. But I’m hoping someday I will raise my own family and epitomize a conventional woman. At the same time, it is within my understanding that life has many possibilities. I’m afraid to disappoint but I’m more afraid of losing myself in the course of finding and keeping people who can make me happy.

Before this post exceeds more than 1000 word count as this might lead to random ramblings on  being a woman, in a gist what I like to say to women:

It is probably a mistake to fall in love with the wrong person, to get pregnant without marriage and preparation, to have a sex video and find out later it is publicized, to raise a child who turns out to be a black sheep, to provide and serve less for a family who needs your commitment. But you can forgive yourself.

It is okay to submit  to the people you love and care for but it can be very devastating to build yourself based on your relationships with them. For when a relationship is broken, you question your worth as a woman. We need affirmation from the ties we bind. But even without them, we can find happiness and be complete.

i am no bird

As much as I like skirts and flowers, I don’t like to identify myself as a woman. The word ‘woman’ itself is in relation to a man, wo- “man.” I’m not a woman, not a girl, not a lady. I’m just a plain human being who happens to have menstrual period and who happens to like the boys. I am independent from the many variables that make a woman.

“Let the statues crumble.
You have always been the place.

You are a woman who can build it yourself.
You were born to build.”

-Sarah Kay

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9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jake
    Jul 01, 2015 @ 12:22:13

    Sadly enough its one of those things where men wrote the law and were probably laughing about it afterwards with the mistresses and the wives at home. There are many laws on the books like that which are screwed up. Women are held to a higher standard. Look at Hijaab in sharia law another example of hypocrisy in action. In effect by forcing women to dress that way its effectively saying men lust and cannot control their impulsive feelings to lust. However its also saying women do not lust (because men are not forced to follow the Hijaab dress code). So if all that were true, why is it women are blamed when caught in rape? why is it their fault?

    When we read the news, it seems to me its men that are doing harm most of the time. whether it be the extreme example of rape or just to marriages. Women do cheat as well but, I agree, the penalty should be equal. The problem is, people are greedy and instead of working it out, choose to take the easy way. they want to keep the old benefits and seek out a new relationship.

    So if you want change, you need to get active in politics. You need to get a majority of women involved and work to change the law. Strike out the old laws Just take them off the books. Or line out the parts that make them unfair.

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    • jackieB
      Jul 01, 2015 @ 22:06:03

      thank you Jake for your insights… sometimes our laws are gender blind. But I do hope we can be part of that change that may not necessarily be on paper or law. We can start by changing how we view women in our household. and how we treat them in our relationships, in our homes

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      Reply

  2. June
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 22:52:41

    I so concur! The best stuff I’ve read today and I’ve read many. 🙂

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  3. Holistic Wayfarer
    Aug 17, 2013 @ 15:47:04

    I really appreciate this examination. I’d be interested to know how you process this in light of your post:

    http://aholisticjourney.wordpress.com/2013/05/12/the-invisible-woman-who-whipped-her-son/

    Like

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  4. cestlavie22
    Aug 16, 2013 @ 12:35:30

    This is very interesting. I never really thought of my definition in the world as the relationships around me. I really dont fit into this mold. I wonder if it is different depending on where you live. I find people judge me more based on my age then my gender but it might just be the time in my life that I am in. Very interesting, definitely food for thought!

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  5. jackieB
    Aug 13, 2013 @ 03:17:07

    tamahh! gusto ko yung paghamhambing mo sa isang anghel 🙂

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  6. Anonymous
    Aug 10, 2013 @ 05:03:58

    so
    ang
    isang
    spirit/
    mind
    ay
    walang
    kasarian…

    tulad
    ng
    isang
    anghel.

    Like

    Reply

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