We are taught that womanhood begins when the first flow of blood releases itself from that sacred place between our legs but really this is the first step in the direction of womanhood; the body physically preparing itself for the biological strains that will accompany womanhood. In this (Western) society womanhood is also associated with the loss of virginity. Again, this is another step towards the womanhood but without the proper emotional and psychological preparation it is purely a physical act void of any real emotional and spiritual meaning.
Surely giving birth is the sign of one’s arrival at the gates of womanhood? Considering the number of neglectful, thoughtless, cruel and selfish mothers in the world I am inclined to disagree. Like sex, without the proper spiritual, emotional and psychological preparation and support, giving birth is merely a physical/biological process.
Being a woman involves more than biological processes. It is the knowledge that we are part of, yet not solely ruled by, a force greater than our individual selves. It is our ability to instinctively be kind to ourselves and each other. It is realising, acknowledging and attempting to rectify our mistakes then forgiving ourselves for these mistakes in the knowledge that they are an important part of the life-long learning process. Being a woman is resolving to be a good example to others, to be true to your word, to be principled and consistent in your core beliefs without being closed-minded. Being a woman is working not in opposition but in harmony with men, complementing each other’s energy and supporting each other in a variety of ways in order to achieve the spiritual balance that is so vital for the a healthy existence. This union is not purely romantic or sexual but spans every male-female relationship: Mother and son, sister and brother, daughter and father, niece and uncle, cousins, friends…
Womanhood is the complete and unapologetic respect we have for ourselves despite the many obstacles in society that make self-love and self-respect almost impossible. It is the total and unwavering understanding of our self-worth; it is the wrath that will befall any living being who dares to question, threaten or annihilate our integrity and good character. Womanhood is our unwillingness to ‘settle’ and in so doing, subject ourselves to individuals and situations that are anything but complementary to our core values.
Womanhood is spiritual and physical cleanliness and the insistence that those whom we invite to share our space, be it physically, emotionally, sexually or all three, are loyal to those same high standards of cleanliness, for if the saying is true and ‘cleanliness is next to Godliness’, then surely, as Goddesses we must recoil at the mere thought of exposure to unclean people, places and psyches.
Being a woman is also the ability to thrive in any situation whether you have support from those around you or not, which brings me back to the essence of this post.
Sometimes we can become complacent. We believe that what has always been will always be and it takes the complete removal of our perceived stability for us to appreciate that life is ever-changing and that nothing and no-one is forever. As someone who takes a while to adjust to change, I fully appreciate how unnerving and damn right terrifying change – especially change that isn’t necessary for the better – can be. For some of us, our first instinct is to resist or simply ignore the changes that are taking place and continue as normal but this won’t work because change is inevitable so we have to change too. More often than not, that change involves turning your back on the past and venturing on to pastures new – usually alone.
“Alone”. Some people struggle with that word because for some reason ‘alone’ has become synonymous with ‘lonely’ despite the two being very different.
One doesn’t have to be alone to be lonely and one isn’t necessarily lonely if they are alone.
Facing new situations doesn’t have to be an awful, scary journey. It can be refreshing, rewarding and necessary for our personal growth and development. As women our lives are often divided in to a multitude of areas namely, career; home and community. Home usually includes maintaining a relationship, raising children, caring for parents or other family members, supporting and socialising with friends and maintaining the home. Work can involve striving for that promotion or perfect job; networking, supporting colleagues/clients and earning enough money to survive; and community can include volunteering, or other ways of getting involved with and maintaining good links within the community.
When changes occur in one or all of these areas it can be daunting. Divorce, retirement, children leaving home, moving to a new community…. All can leave one feeling empty, scared and directionless. This is usually the point where most people act solely on their feelings of anguish and make rash decisions in an attempt to alleviate those feelings.
This is where we need to remind ourselves that we’re women and as such are far more resourceful and intelligent than we give ourselves credit for. We have used our skills and intelligence to get us this far so we can do the same again, only this time with the advantage of having more life skills and experience. Thoughts of being ‘too old’, ‘too young’ or ‘too tired’ are counter- productive and, quite frankly, lazy. Being a woman means putting on your big girl pants and moving forward, in to the unknown, with confidence and purpose. Then and only then will you be open and attractive to new possibilities as opposed to settling for less than you deserve.
“If any female feels she need anything beyond herself to legitimate and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency.” Bell hooks, Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics
“I am a strong woman with or without this other person, with or without this job, and with or without these tight pants”. Queen Latifa
“You have to believe in yourself when no-one else does – that make you a winner right there”. Venus Williams