If you google the word ‘Woman’, one of the definitions states:
“a peremptory form of address to a woman e.g ‘don’t be daft, woman!’”
(Peremptory means “insisting on immediate attention or obedience, especially in a brusquely imperious way.” )
Whereas if you google ‘Man’, you get:
“used, irrespective of the sex of the person addressed, to express surprise, admiration, delight, etc., or for emphasis.”
The very word given to women at birth has become an order, an aggressive and autonomous way to speak to a female. On the flip side, the word ‘Man’, means the opposite, serving as a light and friendly way to greet both men and women. From the day we are born and are named Woman, the first word used to describe us already portrays our obedience and subservience to our male counterparts. As the future of Women seems to be changing and shifting around us, the discourse for redefining what it means to be a Woman needs to be opened for discussion.
At birth, and the first thing the nurse probably said about us was “Its a girl”. ‘Female’ becomes our very first name and our very first definition. In that moment, much of ours lives is defined for us. We will probably be dressed in pink, watch disney princess movies and take ballet classes. We will learn that to be female means to be beautiful, fragile and dependent.
As we get older there is very little change, by the time we are teenagers, all the social norms that envelope the term ‘Woman’ have completely permeated our identity. Maybe we will start learning how to use makeup and how to lust over shoes and clothes. Maybe we will read shiny magazines with beautiful woman on the front, maybe we will start developing a fraught relationship with our bodies, and maybe, we will begin to believe that if we are not society’s definition of beautiful, then our worth decreases exponentially. The fact that in our culture there is only one ‘Ideal Woman’ means that it becomes our life purpose to try and fit that mould.
“The ‘Ideal Woman‘ has forced gender expression on us. She has limited us to never be more than she already is.”
In 2015 alone in the USA there were 279,143 breast augmentation surgeries; a 31% increase from 2000 (plasticsurgery.org, 2016). I believe this to be almost a direct result of the idea of the ‘Ideal Woman’. She has led to many women dressing the same, doing their hair the same, buying the same things and even adapting their bodies so that they look the same. In turn, this creates competition between women. There can only be one ‘Ideal Woman’ and we are all subconsciously trying to play that role.
In order to breakdown the concept of the ‘Ideal Woman’, one must realise the difference between sex and gender. Our sex is female, the biological composition of our bodies, but our gender is however we chose to express ourselves, and ultimately, our sex. Our gender is a construct that we have the power to create. The ‘Ideal Woman‘ has forced gender expression on us. She has limited us to never be more than she already is and so is probably, unknowingly, attached to much of our unhappiness. Essentially, we have been denied the freedom to chose our own truth. Our truths have been clouded by the do’s and don’ts of how a ‘woman’ should behave, dress and conduct herself.
“Women (and people in general!) everywhere seem to be undergoing a transition. They are realising that the world does not exist in binaries. The traditional concepts of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ are falling through and being replaced by an array of creative gender expressions”
Women (and people in general!) everywhere seem to be undergoing a transition. They are realising that the world does not exist in binaries. The traditional concepts of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ are falling through and being replaced by an array of creative gender expressions. At points it feels like it is almost enough to just be you, without any kind of gender attachment. As we start to recognise that we have the ability to define our own standards of beauty, we realise that, as part of human nature, the only constant is that we are all different and that we are always evolving. It becomes very clear that everybody is different, and in our difference, every body is beautiful. Our purpose as women becomes to be as un-shameful in our expression of ourselves as we possibly can, to always speak our own truths, and to inspire others to do the same.
“Our gender is our expression of woman, it is not defined by what we chose to wear, buy or even eat.”
Our sex may be Woman but our gender is whatever the hell we want it to be. Our gender is our expression of woman, it is not defined by what we chose to wear, buy or even eat. We are on a constant journey with our Womanhood, always evolving and adapting. Most importantly, by redefining ‘Woman’ we can also become more aware of the different struggles women everywhere face in their daily lives. We can be thankful to be in the position where we can redefine what is means to be Woman freely.
Every Woman is different and every Woman is beautiful and every Woman should be treated as such. I believe that the future of Womanhood is to encourage and support each other to express and love who they are, rather than participate in competition and rivalry. The future of Womanhood is to teach our sons and daughters that all people, regardless of sex, have equal opportunities to explore and express their hopes and dreams; that beauty comes in all forms, shapes and sizes; and that your sex does not define you. Our journey as Women is just beginning, and together we can redefine the cultural connotations that surround our sex, and create a better future for all Women.