I have a long-time female friend who thinks I do not have enough of a reason to call myself a woman.
I mean “friend” in the best sense of the word: We have known each other since the late eighties, her words and actions have enriched my life a lot, working alongside her was exciting. I get the chance to talk to her much too seldom now – we life on different continents nowadays.
The most baffling thing is, she believes that denying someone’s gender is a Really Big Deal. It is one of those things you Absolutely Should Not Do. I don’t think it is that big a deal, I am not even angry that she does it to me. Only baffled.
Now, why and how does a friend that is so big on gender identity denies my womanhood?
Well, I am one of those people who don’t know what it is to “feel like a woman.” If I put on a dress, I do not “feel like a woman” – it is only a societal construct that ascribed dresses to women. In large parts of the Middle East, for example, people of both sexes wear loose dresses over wide pants. If I use mascara and lipstick (I do, about once or twice a month), I do not “feel like a woman” either – it is only society which labels make-up “womanly.” Some societies put colourful lines on male warriors, facial make-up is regarded as masculine there.
I am a woman not because of feeling feminine, but because I fall into the roundabout half of society that has a vagina. Other clues, not sufficient in themselves but adding to the picture, is that I have breasts, no hair in my chin (except for a small mole with one annoying hair growing out), and menstruate.
But my liberal friend say: “A vagina does not make you a woman.” That means I have no good reason to call myself a woman. This is the same friend who say that it is a Very Big Deal to deny someone’s gender identity.
I know, she wants to be inclusive: She wants to give people with other bodily equipment the right to identify as woman, if they so choose. But while including them in womanhood, she excludes millions like me.
Catch 22, huh?
So, let’s talk: Is there a realistic definition by which to include us and transwomen in womanhood? “Whatever you feel like calling yourself” is not realistic if there is not a definite reason to feel one group – or the other – are women.
Note that this is a seldom-used blog and comments are subject to approval. Insults and off-topic comments will not be approved. If you think my desire to keep the identity of millions of women who do not “feel feminine” is hate and bigotry, it is your right to feel that way. But if you want to discuss here, talk about definitions of womanhood, not about how mean it is to exclude a certain group.