Womanhood is complex. Tricky. Abstract. Is it merely defined as the ability to bear life? Does one reach it at the age of 21? 30? 40?
What is it?
I’ve been struggling to define womanhood so I went on a quest. I wanted to find out from women of all ages, races and backgrounds how they define womanhood. I asked them to complete the following phrase, “To me, being a woman in the 21st century means…”
Their responses? Fascinating.
Woman 1: “It means being strong-willed, knowing what I want and going out and getting it. But the problem is that we try to be ‘equal’ to men and that shouldn’t be our biggest priority. It also means being a great support system for society at large. We can be great mothers, wives, aunts, friends and daughters. I mean, what would the world be without women?!”
Woman 2: “Being able to be me without anyone or my family expecting me to be who they want me to be. Being able to empower those around me and spread as much love as I can.”
Woman 3: “Being your own person, not depending on a man for your existence.”
Woman 4: “Understanding how much power we have within ourselves and with each other. The decisions of our bodies, health, relationships and families can be ours if we constantly challenge patriarchy and require our fathers, brothers, sons & partners to do the same. And to realise the power in other women as sisters and not competition.”
Woman 5: “Having to work much harder to find and maintain what you truly believe in. There’s more noise that we have to sift through than ever before. We need to be more honest with the battles we choose to fight because some deplete our nature rather than empower it.”
Woman 6: “Having more freedom to choose the life I want to live.”
Woman 7: “Being able to dream without limits but also being mindful of the consequences my dreams have on generations to come.”
Woman 8: “It means nothing. I’ve felt this way for 20 years. I am not defined by my gender. But that’s an idealistic hope. Soon, I’ll be immersed into a world where I’m reminded of my gender every day. But for now, it means nothing.”
Woman 9: “Not conforming to society’s stereotypes, but being my own person and acknowledging that I’m a human first.”
Woman 10: “It is having the choice and opportunity to be whatever I dream to be. I choose how to invest my energy and time without feeling pressurised to fit into societal norms.”
There were so many other perspectives and thoughts. Some of the main findings are summarised in the infographic below.
My conclusion? Perhaps the definition of womanhood doesn’t exist. Instead, we all weave our stories into the tapestry of womanhood and in the very complexity of its nature, we find its definition…