Thursday, October 15, 2009

What Does It Mean To Be A Woman?

My name is Liz. I am a woman. But what does that mean to me? Throughout my life, I've reached milestones that seemed to launch me into womanhood. Age 14... I got my period! Now I'm a woman! Age 19... I lost my virginity! Now I'm a woman! Age 25... I got married! Now I'm a woman! Age 27... I got divorced! Now I'm a divorced women! Age 29... I'm married again! Now I'm a woman (again)! Each of those milestones continue to be important and all were steps into womanhood. But what does it mean, to me, to be a woman? From dictionary.com: Synonyms: Woman, female, lady are nouns referring to adult human beings who are biologically female; that is, capable of bearing offspring. Woman is the general term. It is neutral, lacking either favorable or unfavorable implication, and is the most commonly used of the three: a wealthy woman; a woman of strong character, of unbridled appetites. In scientific, statistical, and other objective use, female is the neutral contrastive term to male and may apply to plants and animals also: 104 females to every 100 males; Among lions, the female is the chief hunter. Female is sometimes used in disparaging contexts: a gossipy female; a conniving female. Lady meaning “refined, polite woman” is a term of approval or praise: a real lady in all things; to behave like a lady. Usage note: Although formerly woman was sometimes regarded as demeaning and lady was the term of courtesy, woman is the designation preferred by most modern female adults: League of Women Voters; American Association of University Women. Woman is the standard feminine parallel to man. As a modifier of a plural noun, woman, like man, is exceptional in that the plural form women is used: women athletes; women students. The use of lady as a term of courtesy has diminished somewhat in recent years (the lady of the house), although it still survives in a few set phrases (ladies' room; Ladies' Day). Lady is also used, but decreasingly, as a term of reference for women engaged in occupations considered by some to be menial or routine: cleaning lady; saleslady. See also girl, lady, -woman. *** This phrase resonates with me: Woman, female, lady are nouns referring to adult human beings who are biologically female; that is, capable of bearing offspring. In a general sense, this isn't a whole definition for me. Because I know many women who aren't capable of bearing offspring for many, many reasons. But that bit... it does feel right for me and my sense of womanhood. When I was approaching labor with Teagan, I wanted to try to go natural in my birthing process. A drug-free, epidural-free birth is best in most cases but not generally achieved or even sought after in our culture. But I was doing my best to make all the right choices in my pregnancy, birthing, feeding. I also had concern- great concern that I discussed with my doctor- that the pain of contractions and delivery would result in potential flashbacks to abuse I suffered as a child. When labor began... it really wasn't that bad. The contractions were strong but totally within my realm of pain management. And then my water broke. That changed everything. When a contraction would hit, I dug deep within myself and could feel my entire body focusing in and down toward the contraction. The pain was immense and undescribable. I would shut down into myself and groan and get gutteral. And while it was intense and led to my getting the epidural... I don't know that I've ever felt more like a woman than in those contractions. And I felt connected to the thousands of generations who birthed babies before me. It was a sensation that I've never experienced before. Breastfeeding also defined my womanhood. Hard to find the words to describe that. But providing nutrition to my babies with my body, with milk created just for them and designed specifically for their needs... it's very empowering. Do child birth and breastfeeding alone define my being a woman? Nope. So what else is it? Maybe Jeff has some insight. With us being of the hetero- variety, he must have found something womanly to match his manly. So I pose to him this question: "What does it mean, to you, that I am a woman?" He says that me being a woman means that I have double X chromosomes. He is Mr. Science! But he also says that me being a woman means that I am caring, compassionate, looking out for others. Me being a woman means that he is drawn to me. He says that me being a woman makes me hard for him to understand because I use my heart while he tries not to (he prefers to stick with logic). My womanhood means we can procreate and have children. What does it mean to be a woman? I asked some of my blogging friends to answer the same question from their own personal perspective. I hope you will go and visit their blogs and read their own insights! The Fourth Frog Blog LindseyMommy A T Revival My 2 Sense If you would like to answer this question- be it from your perspective as a woman or a man or just share some opinions- please use MckLinky below and share your thoughts.

11 comments:

mimbles said...

I don't have a post of my own to offer, or not yet anyway. But I thought I'd point you to a post by Deborah of In a Strange Land which you might find interesting:

http://inastrangeland.wordpress.com/2009/09/28/being-a-woman/

(The MckLinky thing isn't open for another 3 hours by which time I plan on being in bed.)

Flartus said...

Just stopping by to let you know mine's up...won't be able to read yours 'til tonight! :( (Big campaign against internet use at work lately.)

Eternal Lizdom said...

Weird on the MckLinky thing, Mim. Sorry about that- must be a time zone thing because I set it to open 1 minute after the post published. Hmph. Maybe you'll come back tomorrow...

I've got your linked in Flartus!

I've gone and read the 4 entries and they are good. It's a hard question to answer and a great topic to think about!!

Garret of Jim and Garret said...

::Stretching:: ::Sigh::

::grin::

Flartus said...

Lunch break! :D The way you start off, you make womanhood sound like an addiction. ("..and I'm a woman. I've been rational for 23 days.")

So interesting the commonalities in many of these posts. I'm enjoying hopping around to different blogs!

VĂ©ronique said...

Thank you for bringing up this topic and for allowing others to add links. When Lori first mentioned this was coming, I thought I really had nothing to say on the topic, but whaddaya know, I blurted something out.

Joanie M said...

You know, Liz, I tried to write a post about what it means to be a woman and it just sounded like a bitchfest, so I deleted it. :) Frankly, what you all have said is exactly how I feel!

I must say that reading the responses from Veronique and Rebecca are very interesting, since they can both give a perspective from both sides of the gender spectrum.

Monica Roberts said...
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Monica Roberts said...

Liz,
Took a stab at answering your question from my chocolate flavored viewpoint. ;)

Becky D said...
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Becky D said...

I just randomly found this blog and found it interesting and random that you that you posted this just a few days before I wrote my "what does it mean to be a woman" blog...only I didn't really answer the question...http://childofgod322.blogspot.com/2009/10/what-does-it-mean-to-be-woman.html