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

The Preacher’s Wife

“Do you want to marry a preacher and be like your mom?”

I blatantly reply: “No, I don’t want.”

It’s not because I don’t believe in my dad’s work. Of course, I love and admire my parents. I appreciate the efforts they make to give us a quality life. I just think it’s more difficult to be a preacher’s wife than to be a single parent. I can’t imagine having the kind of life my mom has. I don’t like to submit myself to my husband (hehe) and  I am not caring, amiable by nature. But in truth, I looked up to my mother as an ideal woman and I know the challenges that my mom has to deal with as a preacher’s wife.

A lot of people claim that they are mission-minded and they like to serve the Lord. Though these people are worthy of admiration, I sometimes question how long can these people keep their enthusiasm.To some, working for the church provides opportunity to pay their misdeeds. To some joining the ministry might be a life-changing catalyst. To my parents, it is their life.

My mom married at the age of nineteen, spent almost all her life with my dad. Did I mention somewhere that she gave birth to seven children? At first she had five children while she continued to maintain a 22-inch waistline. After 14 years, she had two unexpected children. Having a lot of children is enough work load but  her role does not end there.  She has to help my dad with some people skills

Our house functions like an inn, a coffee shop, a bank, and DSWD. We would have random visits as if we are a social service center. My mom worries for a lot of people. Sometimes, my mom has to deal with people who are financially troubled. Someone needs to be visited in the hospital. Someone needs tuition fee, medicine, and bus ticket.

My mom prepares meals for a large group of people. She cooks for church workers, participants of youth and family camps, fellowships and feeding program. She should always be friendly, caring and ready to serve. She invites every new comer in the church to our house. And let’s add the fact that she has to please everyone. My mom teaches in ladies’ class and in church events, she acts like a project manager, a facilitator, an operations head. These are some of the things I can’t do. She is a busy home maker and a preacher’s wife. While I love my own space, my mom expands her home to accommodate more people.

Let me end with a short note to my mother:

Thank you ma for taking care  of me even if  I am such a difficult child. Thank you for bearing my tantrums. Thank you for peeping into my bedroom before you go to sleep.  Thank you for not requiring anything from me and accepting me just as I am.  Thank you for giving me more than enough.  I’m also sorry for being ill-tempered at times. Good news, I’m working on it hehe…You are the best mother in the whole world! I love you very much! And you are the only person in my life whom I find greatest comfort and greatest love! Happy Mother’s Day! 

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