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Being A Woman Means

Let Women Be Who They Want To Be

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“Women empowerment is letting women be who they want to be.”
Dolgeville, NY
Being a woman means anyone who identifies as a woman. That idea didn’t really come to me until college because I was from such a small, conservative town and there wasn’t really any type of gender variation or a transgender student. Before that, I’ve always known ‘if you were born with a vagina, you’re a girl, if you’re born with a penis you’re a boy’. I understood gender variations briefly and my mom told me to accept it, but it didn’t click to me until I came to college. Women empowerment is letting women be who they want to be.

How I have personally experienced woman empowerment was through college. When I was a first-year student, I was surrounded by really strong women who I could look up to and who really taught me about self-love and body positivity and that it’s okay to talk about mental health. I’ve always looked up to these women because they were so unapologetic in their views. So, I really try to be like them for younger students. But, it actually comes with a lot of pressure because all of a sudden, I have people messaging me or commenting that I’m their hero or that I have a positive influence on them. It’s a great thing but it comes with a lot of pressure because not every day I feel this way. It’s really easy to feel body confident when my skin is clear, it’s summer, I’m tan and I’m eating fruit every day. It’s not so easy in the middle of winter, when your skin is breaking out and you have five papers due and you don’t feel like being nice that day. I think it’s important to practice what you preach but also practice self-healing.

Women need to be unified now more than ever, especially because of our current political climate, but that also means ALL women. It’s recognizing that ‘yes,’ we can all come together on certain women’s issues but also there’s so much intersectionality. A perfect example is that white women were able to vote first, then Asian women, then Hispanic women, and then black women. We all have similar goals but because of the systems set in place, we don’t all reach those goals at the same time, which is why we need to stay unified. I personally love the quote by Audre Lorde that states: ‘I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.’ Remember that some of your ‘heroes’ are not necessarily heroes. Especially some suffragettes that were trying to vote for women’s rights did that by putting down their black sisters and brothers. So just be mindful of history, it’s okay to have heroes but look at them through a critical eye, always.

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Being A Woman Means

Womanhood Is Self-Defined

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“Being a woman is about being strong and challenging the notion that you are supposed to be in a specific box.”
Bukoba, Tanzania
To me, being a woman is about being strong and challenging the notion that you are supposed to be in a specific box; defying convention and getting out of the typical traditional roles that were set for women. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a traditional woman who has a family and is nurturing and cleans the household.

But for me, I am not limited to these roles. Womanhood is self-defined because of course I want a family and children, but I also want to have my own company and a career. What’s wrong with doing both?

Being a woman requires a lot of strength. Whether we like it or not, women are second-class citizens. We will always have to work twice as hard.

So much is expected of women. We have this pressure to not only meet expectations but exceed them to prove that we can do more and get out of the box.

Not only that, but it’s hard to reach your goals when you see other women trying to break each other down. It’s so sad. But the reality is that we live in a male-dominated culture.

If you have certain goals, you need to put yourself in a position where you will succeed. You need to be emotionless and do what you need to do to be successful. In my opinion, women are not naturally ruthless in this circumstance, but our society has shaped us to climb our way to the top.

In Tanzania, women empowerment is very strong. Is women empowerment as a topic supported by our society? Not so much.

We are very traditional people. However, the community of women who support each other to go above and beyond is very strong. Women especially support each other to be their own boss and become business owners in agriculture.

My personal take on women empowerment is women supporting other women to reach their goals, by any means necessary. I personally believe that some men are intimidated by what women can accomplish when we support each other. However, women cannot allow any external forces to blur our vision, or influence what our aspirations are.

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Being A Woman Means

Women Should Stand Together To Make A Change

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“Stereotypes of what a woman is supposed to be or act like are restrictive.”
Utica, NY
Being a woman not only means to be nurturing and caring, but also being powerful. My older cousin has inspired me to be who I am as a woman.

She’s taught me to not let other people’s perceptions of me bring me down or define me. I grew up as a tomboy, I did whatever I wanted without any limitations.

Most of my cousins are male. I have a brother and I hung around my uncles a lot so I did everything with them.

My older female cousin and I grew up as tomboys, and we didn’t fit the gender stereotype of what being a ‘girl’ means. We weren’t ‘girly girls’.

I didn’t realize that until I went to middle school that there were certain things that girls were supposed to do and certain things that boys are supposed to do. When I was at school, the boys would always bother me and say that I’m supposed to play with dolls while they went to play with trucks. There were all these gender stereotypes, like I was supposed to wear pink, but I hate pink. Why would I wear pink? These stereotypes of what a girl or a woman is supposed to be or act like are restrictive.

I think it’s so important for women to support each other by creating solidarity so that we can uplift each other. Especially because in our society, men are definitely considered as dominant and women are ‘supposed’ to be subordinate. The power dynamics in our society won’t change unless women come together despite who they are or where they come from and stand together to make a change.

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Being A Woman Means

The Power Of A Woman

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“Let’s stop defining ourselves by our gender. Let’s define ourselves by what we wake up and do every day.”
Boston, MA
When I think about being a woman, I think about how that is different from being a man. And one thing that stands out is a woman’s sensuality. There’s just something about a woman’s body and the energy that exudes from her. Men just don’t have this. Not like a woman. There’s a mystery and an intrigue in women of all shapes and sizes, all nationalities and of all ages. There’s a specialness and strength in the sensuousness.

I respect and admire this sensuality in women, and many times, I behold it in wonder. This is not to say women are sex symbols or objects. I guess they can be such, and often they are, or maybe often society makes them such. But I find power and strength in a woman’s sensuality—sex appeal—that I think gives women, or should give women, a unique sense of self and an inner calm and confidence of spirit.

I fancy myself a feminist, though that word has become, to me, a little passé. And I feel in some ways I should speak about women being equal to men and that I should be on trend singing out from the mountain tops that it’s a woman’s time to stand up for her rights and that a woman’s day has come. But frankly, this conversation kinda bores me. It sounds like a broken record to me. It sounds like talk and the same talk that’s been going on for years. I prefer action. And not just pussy hats on the square and women banding together. I’m sure this feels powerful and I’m sure it’s unifying. I have a lot of female friends and when I get together with them, let me tell you…it’s powerful and energizing. I LOVE THEM! (And they are all very sensual and powerful in presence by the way.)

But I am not empowered by this ‘I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar’ stuff. I’m not naive to the issues we face in society when it comes to gender equality. But I also just sometimes feel like, let’s not whine about it. I’m kinda sick of talking in terms of gender. I was actually a little miffed by the idea of talking here, about what I like about being a woman. Feels, you know, like a chick thing to do. I’m not sure I’d see men writing about ‘Why I Love Being a Man.’

And maybe that’s the problem. Let’s stop defining ourselves by our gender. Let’s define ourselves by our abilities, our strength of character, our choices and our actions. Let’s define ourselves by what we wake up and do every day. I don’t wake up and think about being a woman. I wake up and think: what am I going to accomplish today?

I like being a woman because I possess an inner strength and attitude, an inner beauty and natural sensuality that gives me the confidence to tackle each day with the kind of passion, excellence and dare I say, superiority, that ‘that other gender,’ in my opinion, just can’t light a candle to.

I just like being a woman.

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