What does it Mean to be a Woman?

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By Jessica Bovee

This question has been creeping into my mind time and time again. I wanted to hear from the women in my life and understand what it truly means to be a woman. At what stage in our lives does this become more apparent? It’s important to ask these questions when so much of what a woman is or should be has been in question for so long. We should create our own ideas of what it means to be a woman as opposed to being told what we are. As you will see, the answers vary from person to person.

Sadie – 8 years old: “To me a woman is beautiful, happy to be themselves, loving, most women are happy to have a family. Most women are happy to take care of their kids. Most women are happy to have cousins. The kind of woman I wanna be is myself.”

Avery – 19 years old: “To be a woman means to help your fellow humans. Being a woman means being confident, supportive, and STRONG. I think being a woman means being the best you can be. Women try hard and get what they want. Being a woman is being a leader, a sister, a friend and a kick-ass human!”

Jake (male) – 20 years old: “Well, I personally have no experience in this area, but I think it means being strong and standing up for yourself when people are discriminating against your gender because I feel like women receive that more than men. I don’t think it means much different from being a man, or being a human for that matter. There are some things that women can do and we can’t, and men can do and women can’t. There are differences in the gender, but not in the kind of person you should be.”

Jennifer – 40 years old: “A woman, to me, is unique, not only miraculous in her own existence but has the ability to create, glow, and support miracles. A woman is a strong pillar to support those around her, yet soft, as nurture is her nature, and love naturally lives in her heart. Not all women know or embrace the miracle of who she really is, but she is the most beautiful when she does.”

Bonnie – 67 years old: “As a woman today I am fortunate to have many freedoms that women have fought so hard for, and some women can only dream about. We are free to create our life in any way we choose. For me, being a woman means that I embrace my strengths, shine a light on my weaknesses, while living each in the best way possible, nurturing, loving, and giving what I have to offer. I have realized taking care of myself is an important part of being a woman by feeding my soul, exercising and nourishing my body, while finding time to reflect and relax. There are many complexities to being a woman, with many hats to wear.”

June – 87 years old: “When I was young (in the 1940’s and ’50’s) it meant having the door opened for me by a man. It meant being treated with great respect. It also meant that I could not attend the seminary to be a pastor, and I could not attend nursing school until I was 18 years old (was 17). It meant that I did not dare rebel when my father said I could go to teacher’s college (would rather have gone to any of the above or to business school). It all changed in the 1960’s (someone burned their bra and there were significant changes regarding sex). However, I could attend any school I preferred. It also meant that I opened my own doors, except for when I was with my husband or someone else his age. I could work as a firefighter, a woodsman, a policeman etc. all the things that were not allowed or looked upon without favor. I went to night school and learned to be a business woman and accountant. Eventually I worked at a City Hall, a mental health facility, and the atomic energy commission. My last job was at an accounting and tax office. I finally quit when I was 85 years old. Today I am nearly 88 years old and I can do anything I choose. I have taken advantage of that fact. I had to quit driving my car because of my eyesight, but that is the only reason. I now live in an Independent living place because I choose to not cook and drive and clean a house. I spend my time playing cards, going on sight-seeing tours, volunteering (I run the front desk at this place 2x a week) and many other things that are new to me. And that is what being a women means— you can do anything you wish to do, as long as it is legal. And you can change your mind about it if you wish!  You do not even have to marry and have children if you don’t wish to. Take advantage of all the opportunities available because you never know when things will change.”

Take a moment and consider what being a woman means to you. Is it painful? Is it rewarding? Feel free to share your thoughts and let me know what you think.

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