In our final installment in the Culture of Womanhood blog series, we explore what people who identify as women love about womanhood, what's not so great, and the advice they would give to others living as women.
Female friendships: As one person succinctly said ,she appreciates "Female bonding and friendships". Women experience friendships in close, tactile ways that bring them closer together through empathy. A "connection with daughters and other women" and the "support of others/sharing of stories" creates relationships that help women survive the expectations of womanhood.
Motherhood: Women are mothers in any sense value the support these friendships bring to that experience. In fact , respondents naturally linked these together in statements such as "having babies. Spending time with girlfriends." and "bonding with other women and momming".
Selective femininity: As these people put it, "I enjoy being feminine when I want to" and "the ability to do it all if we choose" are core values as women. Whether or not we choose the full makeup package or never wear makeup, choose to be mothers with many hyphens or childless with no hyphens (or the reverse), the right to choose how to present your womanhood is not one size fits all.
Empowerment: "The power of empowered women- I love my tribe!" said one respondent" and another went a little deeper, saying powerfully that "My ability to raise a smart, strong, caring, driven and independent little but to also build a career in a place where very few dark skinned woman are ever really held in high regard. Building a strong career, going back to school at a time when a should be "settling" down.My ability to raise a smart, strong, caring, driven and independent little but to also build a career in a place where very few dark skinned woman are ever really held in high regard. Building a strong career, going back to school at a time when a should be "settling" down."
Expectations of motherhood: Yes, there are parts of womanhood that some want to be rid of! Like "gossip/comparison to others" , "single women catching a bouquet", and "shaving [your] legs". Then there a other things women can do without like "Pregnancy and giving birth; the misconception that it's perfect and that we should be happy the entire time. The idea that all women should desire to have babies or that a woman is a failure when she cannot conceive.The idea that you can't be a full time mother and hold down a thriving career.That we have to be strong all the time and vulnerability is equates as weakness.." Even the way pregnancy, birth and parenthood are discussed in modern media takes little time to acknowledge that millions of women are not on the same path.
Over apologizing: A respondent from another country said "generally speaking, living in the US now, for some US women, the tendency to apologize excessively". What are sorry for?
Expectations in general: "Being expected to do it all" and "Having to cook" speak to the external and internal pressures women feel to be responsible to and for other people.
And finally, we asked women what advice they would give to other people living as women and they had so much to say that it was worth sharing it all. See below for some amazing advice from our respondents and know that more than anything, womanhood is community.
"You are leader at what ever you do. Whether is is stay at home mom, writer, artist, CEO., healthcare provider. You are a leader. Also embrace womanhood and everything about it BC it is special"
"Find role models without without being defined by gender"
"Leading with your heart and intuition is not a bad thing, we would have more peace in this world if this were a more acceptable way to lead."
"Be proud of all of the qualities and attributes that make you unique"
"I’ve broken down gender roles in my relationship with my partner. Find someone as strong, self-assured and driven to be the best version of themselves, and you’ll build something great as equals."
"Know your strength and that at the core the world can not function or evolve without women. We are the most essential means for the civilization to continue."
"Welcome. We are here for you. Be you."
"That we are are strong, determined.... that around the world, women will gain equal right/pay.... it will be a different world where so many women will no longer suffer."
"Embrace the beauty of it & maximize the power of it."
"Follow your heart and be you unapologetically"
"Don't take shit from others"
"It is a wonderful experience that becomes richer and more fulfilling with age!"
"Create your own path, which may be unconventional and even lonely at times but listen to your gut. Be silent so that you can hear your own voice offering you guidance. That voice has been with you since childhood and it knows you best. Hear what others have to say, but it doesn't mean you have to take it all in. Advocate for yourself because no one else will. Build and inspire other woman to become their strongest self because your legacy is what will continue to fortify other women and their place on earth."
"Do you girl! Do whatever you want! *within reason of course."
"Be yourself in all your woman glory."
"Women’s are always in charge."
"There isn’t just one way to be a woman. Make it your own and fuck everyone’s opinions."
"I would say to live a life that is your own that is not blocked by outside influences like a man, some kids , and what others say you should or need to be . You can do anything even though it may be difficult, but women can manage everything ."
"There are various views, but embrace the variety and continue to learn about [your]self."
"Be who you want to be and not what others tell you to be"
"There is a constant struggle for equality. Take care of your body. Think globally about what you support so that other women are also taken care of. The circle is big."
As people, we are more alike than we are different but our differences are beautiful too".