I’ve been meaning to wrote a post on some version of this topic for quite some time, but with all the hubbub around International Woman’s Day on all of the various social medias, it finally seemed right, code for “it seemed time for me to sit my butt down with some coffee and try to write a blog post for the first time in months.”
I spend a lot of time surrounded by women. I live with six of them, I work with one of them, most of the JVC Northwest program consists of them, meaning that most of my JV and FJV friends are also them, and of course, I am a woman. One of my roommates works at a domestic violence shelter; she hangs out with a lot of women. Another is a doula; she hangs out with a lot of very pregnant women. Essentially, I–and we–live in a swirl (sometimes a breeze, sometimes a tempest) of a lot of feminine energy.
I’ve used to (annoyingly) considered myself a “guy’s girl,” in the way that I liked to pretend I got along better with guys than with girls, that girls were catty and difficult, while guys were laid back, simple, and uneasy. We’ve all heard the Gone Girl “cool girl” rant; I think I used to fancy myself along those lines. But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized it’s absolutely bullshit. Though I certainly have many “manly” interests, in the restrictive social binary sense of the word (I like sports and being outside, this is not inherently “masculine,” world!), I’m not necessarily more comfortable around men. Mostly, I focus on how much I want to date men and get flustered around them, therefore being weird because I compensate with my fear by just being really aggressively “myself,” which is normally some version of extra loud and opinionated, and then I freak out because I’m being aggressive and need to chill the fuck out. I know, I know; embarrassing. BUT BLOGS ARE ABOUT HONESTY, RIGHT?!
I am a feminist, and I believe in equality. I believe that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. But this is not a belief in sameness. Being female is unique, it is different, and it is beautiful. I’m still figuring out precisely what that difference is, and how I can learn to use it and celebrate it properly, but I know that it’s there. I celebrate the female energy I possess. I am emotional and I am sensitive. I am nurturing and I am welcoming. I am resilient, I am generous, I am strong.
Though we are a patriarchal society, I find myself drawn to the matriarchal structures I find daily in my life, in my communities, and in my work. I am one of a long line of women, women whose names and face I will never know, but that are a part of me. I honor the women who have come before me and those that will come after me, maybe even from me. “I am of the women in my family,” I once heard a professor say. I am part of that line. I will continue that line.
No, not are women are meant to be mothers. No, not all women are emotional. Women can not be stereotyped, and they should not be stereotyped. As a modern woman, I know that “womanhood,” “feminine,” “girlish,” all have ten thousands different interpretations. Gender is a spectrum, and we must allow space for all people to interpret it in ways that feed them and bring them happiness. We have to reject the binaries of “male” and “female” will no space for overlap, give-and-take, or interpretation. However, I can believe all of this and still value that unique energy that surrounds me daily. I am proud and lucky to know so many incredible women, and to count myself in their presence and company.
Girls are strong and vulnerable. We are mysterious and open. We are a million different things. We are half of the world, and today we can give attention to that, and smile at our power.