It feels very dangerous to write about what it feels like to be a woman. Should I reveal the secrets? The strength and awesome weakness?
To be a woman is to be fire and an ocean. The sun and the moon, and all the confusing weather in between. There is so much to experience as a woman that it is very often terrifying. My heart feels bruised and swollen from all the emotions that it endures through the day. My skin flickers and floats around a shape. It doesn’t seem to have boundaries, rather everything moves through it, and is engulfed in it. Empathy. I cannot turn it off!
Sometimes being a woman is like being a musical instrument.
I open my mouth and nothing comes out but song, movement turns into sweet notes and everyone turns to hear. At these points even what I feel plays in a melody. If I am walking and filling my heart with compassion for the world, the music carries out around me and I am often stopped by someone who has heard the song and wants to take the music. It is a beautiful blessing to be able to reach out small hands and touch the stones of the earth to feel them soften.
And it is a breathtaking chorus to hear women sing their song together. You’ve seen it: sister’s on a walk, dear grandmas, mothers, and the crowds of young girls clicking their heels to laughter.
And sometimes being a woman is like being a paper lantern.
Silent and delicate. We glow, but are easily torn to crumple and lose shape. Like the paper surrounding the flame, so too a woman may wrap her arms around the very fire that lives to consume her. This can be how it feels to be around men. We are born into slightly weaker and smaller bodies: men are given swords, and women are given baskets. I can be walking on a sunny Sunday and am still always aware of the vulnerability that I am subject to. I carry it with me in my bag. My mind reminds: “Just keep walking past these guys, look away, pull up your hood, there is the exit, if you must run go towards that area because it is busier, and take your hair out of a pony tail because that is easier to grab.”
I am highly flammable and yet wrapped around a flame. Sometimes the flames flicker close in the eyes of a man late at night, and I frantically pull away my paper skin – always aware of how easy it is to be destroyed.
Sometimes being a woman feels like being a great warrior.
When we truly understand our vulnerability, and feel how closely our blood flows to the surface of our protecting skin, that is when we may truly understand our own death. And there we disperse our fear. The fragility of my body allows me to be brave and courageous beyond imagining. I put on a dress and a leather coat, wrap my scarf around my hair and pull up my mask to cover my face. Stepping outside as a warrior I fear nothing. Knowing how it feels to have someone overpower me, gives me evidence to prove how very much I can withstand. I learn that there is strength far greater than muscle and mass, and I see that this is what we posses. The ability to persevere, to withstand pain, to live without, and to face battles with the odds ever against us are given to a woman when she is born. She requires these strengths to create life, and to withstand the storms within and without.
In every culture you may see that the workers, the warriors, the healers and the providers are great women. And I have often seen fear in the eyes of those that look upon a woman who has realized the strengths that she was born with.
Being a woman can feel like being love itself.
That awesome powerful force that we all want to be near, and yet we fear. We have our wounds – I carry many from love but also from being a woman, and from the sharp words of other women. To be love is a responsibility, much like the responsibility we bear when we are born. We need to care for each other without consuming one another. And this can be very difficult for us. People may come starving for love, and we feed them only to leave them desperate and starving again when we move on. To wear these eyes we hold the power to reach out and touch people deeply. We may throw a casual smile to a stranger – and even this can shake their day with the power of connection.
It is important to let love fill the world, but also it is important to understand where it is being used to fuel a fire or rule the power. Love does not have a function or a job – it is not a tool to be used. And as a woman, I am realizing the ways that I am able to manipulate, control and create dependencies simply by being myself. So I aim to find a balance of opening my hands and heart without having them piled and full. I aim to look with clear, honest eyes and connect to the level that can be withstood.
Finally, being a woman feels fun!
Some days I can curl my hair and wear dresses. I can paint my lips and see what glitter would do to the colour of my eyes. Or I can go without and tie my hair back with pants and a sports bra. Being able to sing high notes and whisper in class without anyone hearing. The standards placed on men and women (though in desperate need of revision) allow me some freedom. We have somehow been given a reputation for being on the verge of crazy with a wide emotional spectrum. And while this is infuriating most of the time, sometimes it is nice to be able to burst out the full strength of my emotions and have people find it unsurprising. My empathy gives me a natural, deep understanding of situations and people that could never be learned or taught, and this allows me to move in the sea of humans with a little bit more confidence and grace.
There is inequality on all sides of the spectrum, and it is certainly important to try and make things equal. But it is also nice if we are able to realize – on our own – the strengths that we have been given, and to begin living right now as though everyone were treated equally already.
This Women’s Day I am celebrating the fact that I was born a girl. I am immensely grateful and amazed by men, and would have enjoyed having been able to see the world through that lens. But in this life I am lucky enough to be a brilliant rose on a stem, arching out to experience the world, and unfolding in endless layers of emotions, thoughts, creations, and expressions.
“Whether women are better than men I cannot say – but I can say they are certainly no worse.”
– Golda Meir