Lately I've been thinking a good deal about gender; what femininity means, what masculinity means. Is gender a box we are placed in by our outward appearance or is it something more?
I know some women who could be considered gender non-conforming. They don't wear makeup, they don't shave, they don't wear dresses or heels. Does this mean they are men? No, of course not! They still identify as women. Being a woman appears to be much more than shaving, makeup, and feminine dress.
Many women can't have children, so I would say the ability to have them can't possibly be what makes a woman, a woman.
If nothing else, I think the oppression we face everyday is something that ties us all together. When I am harassed on the street, or groped, or the butt of a sexist joke, no one but my sisters will truly understand.
This article on Alternet has a definition of woman through a non-definition:
I refuse to believe in the myth that all women share a common bond. The truth is we are all very different from one another. We each live with a different set of privileges and life experiences. And once we acknowledge this fact, it will become obvious that when we try to place all women into the same box, we unintentionally suffocate ourselves.
Instead of pretending that all women share the same experience, that we are one in the same, let's make the word 'woman' a perpetual agent of change. Instead of repeating history by chaining ourselves to one specific definition or concept, let's make the word 'woman' a celebration of each of our uniqueness.
On the one hand, I appreciate the recognition that defining half the world under one word wouldn't work. However, I feel that there must be something that ties us together through all of our differences. We are strong and resilient.
What does being a woman mean to you?