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

Inner Beauty is a Myth

On the radio….

DJ 1: “Do you believe in inner beauty”

DJ2: “Inner beauty is  for ugly people who want to feel good about themselves.”

I don’t believe in inner beauty too. I don’t believe that beauty is measured by character, attitude and whatsoever. When you are beautiful, you are beautiful. When you are not, you are not. No justifications can be made. As what they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

There is something wrong on the belief of inner beauty. They say real beauty is skin deep. We always take it as a compliment when someone says, “You have a beautiful face, beautiful body, beautiful hair. ” O f course, we are flattered when someone tells us that we are beautiful inside and out. But how about when someone says, “You are beautiful inside?” In the deep layers of your thoughts, you are thinking, I am ugly outside or I am ugly enough for someone to commend my ehem …inner beauty? If truth be told, you’d rather have someone tell you, you are beautiful outside than inside. That’s the time inner beauty is more of an insult than a compliment.

It’s like having a conversation with a friend about a girl whom she has not met. She asks you, “Is she beautiful?” Then you reply, “She is mabait (kind)” If inner beauty is for real, then why don’t immediately say, “She is beautiful.”?

When you describe someone “beautiful”, you are referring to someone’s eyes, skin, nose and lips. You are not referring about a person who does community work, goes to church and feed  street children. That’s how the sentence “You are beautiful” functions though it is not equivalent to “You are a beautiful person.”

They say it does not matter how you look. What matters is your are kind, good to other people. This is the inner beauty theory. But this idea does not sell well to me. I don’t like that kind of mentality, “ok lang na hindi ako maganda pero mabait naman ako.”

I believe real beauty is not about being charitable because beauty is not synonymous to kindness. Real beauty is acknowledging that your eyes, your nose, lips, ears, are perfectly made and they fit well to who you are. It is rejecting the idea that you are trapped or cursed in the wrong face and body. Each of us has his/her own beauty. It’s either you accept that or you don’t. It’s not about having it and not having it.

Beauty is not also equivalent to conformity. Women who appeared in magazines are described beautiful. Sometimes, a person thinks if she looks like this model, she is beautiful too. What people fail to take consideration is that the magazine cover is not only eye candy because of its model. A stunning appearance of a model is a product of the efforts made by art director, photographer, make-up artist, and stylist. It is a piece of art.

There are TV shows like America’s Next Top Model that tells stories about women trying to be thin, having their hair short to appear taller. This sometimes creates an illusion that these women work hard for beauty. But it’s not for beauty. It’s for conformity.

Beauty is about everything you see in the mirror. It is how you see yourself. In your lifetime, someone will describe you with pretty, average, ugly, indescribable, cannot-be-categorized looks. One’s perception is always a variable. But what you believe in yourself can be permanent. If you believe you are beautiful, it will radiate in your skin, body, and soul.

Reply to a Friend who is in need of a kiss

Dear Friend,

You asked me if I knew how to kiss, as if I could give you a demo or a free taste.

Do lovers hold hands?

Do they embrace?

How often?

How long?

Questions of a girl who has never exchanged glances with a guy or has exchanged sweet nothings.

If you have fallen in love with so many men, then you haven’t loved at all. And the pain you get from unrequited love as what you claim is nothing more but fleeting passion that has not been received like a die-hard fan ignored by her celebrity crush. It is not even as painful as one gets from a letter with no response.

Girls often envy those who have relationship status. They think those girls who have been touched and been kissed are lucky. But in truth you are lucky.

 Why?

Because your heart is still a one whole piece. Some who have been there don’t have scars in their hearts but holes. Scars are better than holes. For when a scar is born, it means it stops bleeding. But if it is still a hole, an open wound, it bleeds continuously.

You said you wished you had romantic moments to look back. Why wish for dying memories? It’s tragic to look back and exciting to look forward. And those who have been there are not really as excited as you will be.

You feel bad because no one said, “I love you.” It will always be magical to hear those words but it feels worse when someone said “I love you.” Then, “Goodbye.”

I hope one day you’ll find your Mr. Right who will laugh with you and will laugh at you. And of course with your wicked smile, you will laugh at him too. If you watch a chick flick together, he will watch your useless tears more than the movie itself.

Yes, love hurts. And I am not exaggerating that. We always say there are many fish in the sea and stars in the sky but we know we are lying. A dynamite can kill a school of fish and stars have life span too. See statistics.

I know no man is irreplaceable as what you and Beyonce said. But Katy Perry told me each of us is original, cannot be replaced.

You don’t believe in forever. Sure, you don’t. But when you experience something beautiful you will believe not only in forever, but in everything.

So, take the advice of John Carter: ”Find a cause. Fall in love. Write a book.” I am not bitter and selfish when I say, “Everyone deserves a broken heart.” Trust me, it’s for your own good.

If you come to me crying, I know those tears are not for a man but tears for true love, tears coming from a woman who has loved genuinely and selflessly. And that’s when you know love.