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what does it mean to be a woman?

Posted on March 8, 2018

Today is International Women’s Day…but what does being a woman mean in 2018?

Sexuality/ women

Disclaimer: This blog post is referring to my own subjective experience of being a cis woman and my dealings with cis men. It is in no way to refer to trans or non binary people, I support them in their journeys and I would never want for this blog post to denounce their gender identity. New experience has taught me that the metrics I use to measure my womanhood are not representative of every woman, they are unique and very central to me (I may touch on the “why?” at a later time). I have no intention of being exclusionary as I wrote this blog from my own personal perspective, which inherently is that of a cis woman. I recognise that not all women identify as women in a similar way to me – and I think these differences should be celebrated! Outside of this discussion, we are all human and that is all that matters! I hope you enjoy this read and I look forward to hearing your feedback 🙂

Without further ado….

What does being a woman mean in 2018?

For all of human history, there have only ever been two sexes: male and female. What separated one from the other is that a male (or a man) has the tools to impregnate a female and a female (or woman) has the reproductive organs to carry out said pregnancy. Simple, right? I’m afraid not.

In our current climate of the Post-Truth era, it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to define what I have always considered to be basic biology. The rise of gender theory and the concept that gender is non-binary and is something that can be chosen by an individual, is creating a landscape in which it is seemingly no longer acceptable to rely on simple biology to determine the things we have always known to be a factually true.

Gender theory removes fixed biological determinants for what makes someone a man or in this debate, what makes a person a woman. It proposes the idea that sex and gender are two completely different categories thus those who are born as male and consequently have male appendages can someday be women simply by saying so.

It more or less looks like this….

While I take no issue with how people choose to present themselves to the world, I personally feel that the contribution of science is something that we cannot ignore, especially when it comes to matters of what being a woman means. The notion that sex and gender are completely uncorrelated perpetuates a free-for-all world where males can be women and females can be men and as someone who has lived and experienced a lot of complexities that not only come from being born a woman, but also be born a woman of colour, I feel that maintaining such an idea devalues my unique female experiences. It fails to acknowledge some of the pressures that I was faced with being born a woman, but most of all I think it  reduces me to just one thing.

I do not have a personal problem with people who choose to identify as the gender that differs from the one they feel they were assigned to at birth, and being a woman who takes an interest in fitness and muscle building – something that some people may view as being typically  ‘masculine,’ I understand that masculinity and femininity can be shaped culturally. However, I also have a degree in Statistics, a mathematical science. So when I ask what a woman is, that question is being driven by the logical part of my soul. The part of me  that is responsible for logic and truly wants to get to the bottom of this sex and gender debate – if at all possible.

I have always been fascinated by the human body and its capabilities and it goes without saying that there is an abundance of scientific research that shows biological differences between men and women. The set of biological traits that differentiate women from men are things that I feel should be celebrated. In fact, some of them are things that I pride myself on.

As a woman I am empowered by my ability to give endlessly and selflessly and offer empathy to those who don’t deserve it. As a woman I am empowered by the relentless fight fought by female activists up to 100 years ago that led to women having the choices we have today. But most of all, as a woman, I am empowered by the fact that I have the tools to bring life to this world. 

Let’s be clear…

That’s not to say that women who cannot bear children are not real women. That’s no criticism on women with a history of miscarriages because they have struggles carrying a full term pregnancy. And it most certainly does not mean that women who choose not to have kids are lesser.

Are we clear on that?

I have my own personal reasons for why I shape my womanhood in the manner that I do and I understand that what empowers me might not empower every other woman out there. But…

I cannot change what makes me feel like a woman.

We all have different versions for what we think constitutes a woman and I am aware that what is true to me may not be necessarily true to every other woman. The variables that I use to define what makes make me a woman are for me and I understand that in a society that is ever growing and changing, it is not the same across the board. Which is why I ask….

What is a woman and what does it mean to be a woman in 2018?

My biggest fear surrounding the current dialogue around this topic is the greater impact of such a narrative. If we say that gender is non-binary and that people can claim membership for whichever gender they see fit then it takes science off the table completely.  If we don’t have a certain set of rules governing what makes a man and what makes a woman, and if we as a collective society cannot decide how to define these terms, then what are the implications for our future generations?

In a perfect world we would have a civilisation where each and every person could live as their best and most authentic self. But unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world and that is why I think it is important to engage with these questions and have these discussions.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, let’s pick each other’s brains a bit. Let’s explore the meaning of womanhood and all the beauty that it encompasses: ask yourself, what is a woman and what does it mean to be a woman in 2018? 🙂

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Happy International Women’s Day to all the ladies who identify as such x

[Last Updated: on Sunday 18th March at 7.00pm]

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