A little while ago singer Adele announced to music fans across the world, when receiving her award for best artist, that she loved being a woman and a female artist. I loved so much that she said this and it was poignant because the BRIT awards recently decided to make their awards gender neutral, I could talk about why this is problematic, for example because female artists have been under represented in music for decades and to have male and female categories ensures women get the recognition they deserve, but that is not the main point of this post. What I really want to say is YES! I also love being a woman, thanks so much for saying that Adele! You made it ok to love being a woman.
Why would it be hard to love being a woman? Well it must be very difficult for girls and even grown women today to be glad they were born female. The #METOO movement revealed some bleak statistics about life as a woman in the UK including that one in five women in the UK have experienced rape or sexual assault (compared to one in twenty men) and one in four women will experience domestic abuse. It must be frightening and daunting for young women knowing these statistics and difficult to see the positives of life as a woman.
What is more, things seem to be getting worse, we live in such porn drenched and sexualised culture that boy's expectations of girls and girl's expectations of themselves are very distorted and harmful. One only needs to look at sexual assault statistics in schools to know that there is something seriously wrong with what our culture is teaching boys; One third of 16-18 year old girls say that they have experienced unwanted sexual attention in schools and on average one girl a day is raped in school (source).
When girls see the freedom of their male peers at school and socially; less pressure on them aesthetically, clothes than enable them to move around more freely and in comfort, freedom to adopt subjects and careers from virtually any discipline and succeed in them, little reason to feel fearful when going outside at night etc, they must be envious, and even resentful of their own sex which puts so much pressure on them to look and behave a certain way.
The biology that girls are born with must also sometimes feel like a massive burden that they do not share with the male of the species, and perhaps don't feel like they even want; the changes in puberty that mean we become sexualised and objectified, the mess and pain of periods, the discomfort and dangers of pregnancy, the pain and permanent changes to our bodies in childbirth and finally menopause (which I can't comment much on having not entered that phase of my life yet but frequently hear talk of it's unpleasantness). From the apparent chains of our biology we watch on the side-lines as men breeze through life with none of the emotional chaos or physical bridges that we have to cross, achieving their physical and career goals, enjoying more free time and evading the emotional and physical labour that women take on simply because we are women (source).
It is easy to understand why many girls and women feel there is much to complain about as life as females. And I can see why they feel this way, but I really want to shout it into the microphone across our TV screens just like Adele that in spite of it all I LOVE being a woman. Of course I don't necessarily LIKE everything about womanhood. I don't relish the worry of a leaky moon cup or the awful indigestion in pregnancy or the burst stitches I had to endure after giving birth (and that's to name but a few) but all things considered I love it!
Maybe I am just lucky to have had many strong female role models in my life, especially my mum who made womanhood and motherhood look pretty good, maybe its luck that I was excited to be entering puberty and become a woman and that I longed to start my periods (I was a late starter at 16), that these things were a sign I was maturing and entering a new and exciting phase of life. I am also thankful for the good fortune of never feeling like I was anything less for being a girl, and never thinking there was anything I couldn't do because I was female.
I am certainly thankful that I had the protective upbringing I did, I was never sexually assaulted by a boy at school and I have never been raped. I never felt that being female put me at any disadvantage in my career choices, and always felt that I could do anything that I wanted to do if I worked hard enough and put my mind to it (regardless of whether this is true or not). I am incredibly grateful for this and acknowledge that these facts likely play a part in my love of womanhood and that not all women have had this fortune.
So what is so great about being a woman? Well I love that my body has its own rhythm and flow that ebbs and changes over the weeks, that my emotions and feeling are changeable and sensitive to the hormones in my body. I love that women's bodies change through the seasons of their lives, they aren't fixed objects that just get old but we develop and blossom into different eras of life each of which faces us with a relearning of our bodies and minds.
I love that my female body is capable of creating and sustaining life. Some women feel like being the only sex to be able to fall pregnant and give birth is a huge burden, but I see it as a blessing and a gift. The fact women and women alone are given the godly gift of being able to produce life is amazing. That we have breasts to nourish our babies for the first few years of their lives is astonishing, that are babies have that dependence on us is magical. In a society that does not value mothers or indeed children, where the loss of the village leaves mothers feeling lonely, it is no wonder that the gift of motherhood is overlooked as such, but when I put aside this unfortunate development in humankind I can see the true wonder of this gift and not only do I cherish it but I am thankful for it, I love it.
I have often seen women on the TV ancestry show "Who do You Think You are" say that they are proud of coming from a long line of strong women. But we have all come from a long line of strong women, because women have had to be strong, we wouldn't be here without them and I love this about us. Women have endured hardships and raised families, shaped homes and picked up the pieces and started all over again. We are all strong women.
I love that women are beautiful and creative, spiritual and thoughtful, sensitive and strong, I love being around women and although many reading this might not relate to the image of women that I portray, might find discomfort in the values I attribute to us, I am not here to argue that women are no less for not giving birth or being mothers or breastfeeding or that not all women are such-and-such, of course these things are true, but for me the image of a woman as a mother and home maker, a comforter and gentle listener is true to the experience of my own life and the lives of many of my female friends and relatives.
So thank you Adele for declaring that you love being a woman, I love being a woman too and I wouldn't want it any other way.
Happy International Woman's Day everyone.
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