On International Women’s Day I thought it only befitting to write on a topic that relates and celebrates women. I am only one woman in a uniquely vast pool of beautiful females, and I would never dare speak for or try to represent the masses. Every society, country, culture has a different view of womanhood and as result each woman has her own individual narrative as to what it means to be a woman. Today I will write about my experience and the gift it has been to be a woman.
I was blessed to have been born in the 1970’s. Not because of its groovy music and fashion (which I still adore and cringe at the same time) but because it was the decade where we saw and heard from such remarkable women as Gloria Steinem and Susan Brownmiller. The Women’s Rights Movement was making ground and the second wave of the Feminist Movement was gaining steam. Heck, I was born the same year Woe v. Wade was decided upon in the Supreme Court and women were claiming their independence, rejecting societal ideas of femininity, and demanding equal pay and the ability to explore new career opportunities. They wanted a voice and demanded to be heard. I watched programs such as the Phil Donahue show with my mom and was immediately drawn to his honest content and tough discussions that explored and challenged the norm. The Mary Tyler Moore show inspired me to be an independent woman working and living in the big city. It was a decade that was pushing the envelope not only in music, art, media, but it was birthing a generation of young girls that would later evolve into fierce and powerful women. I was one of those girls and boy did I grow up to be fierce.
When I was young, I never really saw much of a difference between boys and girls besides the obvious physicality and anatomy. I grew up in a rural area and loved playing outdoors in the dirt or inside with my barbie dolls. I had a father that did not see us as simply girls rather he had us working in the garden, mowing the lawn, helping around the house and assisting when working on the car. He wanted daughters who could hold their own and take care of themselves. My mother taught us the necessary skills concerning cooking, cleaning, managing money, but pushed us to be independent financially and emotionally so we could support ourselves should we chose not to marry or if we marry, we were not financially “stuck.”
When I was 18 and headed off to college, I was extremely strong-willed and independent. I think my parents succeeded in all their efforts. It was not long though that I began to experience the real world. This meant that I was no longer isolated in my liberal, equality-based home. I was exposed to my first of many instances of sexism. I will not go into detail of any of these instances because this is not what my post is about, but I began to learn that society saw boys and girls differently and treated them as such. Despite this new realization I never let it stop or hinder me from chasing after my dreams or continuing to be who I wanted to be. This was one of the first gifts I realized about being my own woman – I can and will be judged, but I am strong and will push through.
There have been some difficult moments in my life and decisions made solely based on being a woman, but I would never change my gender – not for one minute. I love being a woman and what being a woman means to me. Society may not have caught up to my mind-set, but I quite honestly feel I have the best of both worlds. I can be strong, soft, independent, loving, sensitive, courageous, fierce, and a plethora of other adjectives. I love and embrace each one of these traits. Allowing and embracing these facets of myself affords me the ability to adapt to situations, relate to others, find compassion, hold strong, understand my surroundings and love fearlessly.
Yes, discrimination still exist and if you find you are a part of it, it can bring you to your knees. I have learned to recognize it and either fight it or move away from it. Sometimes it must be faced head on and other times, it simply is not worth the energy. But being a woman makes me feel hopeful. We give birth to the new generations, we continue to mold and foster young minds, and we continue to conquer territories and roles not yet explored. We are leaders and we will create leaders by being examples. If that is not beautiful and empowering, then I am not certain what is.
In all honesty, being a woman is only a fraction of who I am, but on International Women’s Day I do embrace, and I am proud to be part of this collective group of amazing people. I believe the world is evolving faster than ever before, and one day, all women will be viewed equal to their counterparts. One can only hope and continue to make strides forward.
© Honestly by Ellen Good, 2020
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