It is International Women’s day and I felt the urge to write about womanhood. But then it dawned on me: “what is womanhood in this man’s world?” No, really what makes you a ‘real’ woman? What is the state of the woman in this day and age? Surely the last time I checked under the shower I still had all my lady parts. And, yes, for five days straight every month I cry like a baby whenever I see a puppy, and I have the urge to strangle someone if they don’t feed me chocolate, yoghurt sweets and a Chai Tea Latte from Starbucks at that time of the month. And let’s not forget that I will literally play tag with every car in front of me and behind me while parallel parking. But do these stereotypes really define womanhood?
To help me out with this one, I posed this question to Jentien Keijzer, Psychologist and overall kickass power woman. To get an even broader view, I also spoke with Tyara Uiterloo, a psychology student. They gave me some gems on the state of general womanhood that I would like to share with my fellow women (and the men that are secretly reading this fashion blog while pretending to read the new New York post issue online. I salute you!).
Who run the world, GIRLS
Our current society, the world as we know it, is developed by men. They have designed our political, economic and social structures. You see, the world is still dominated by masculine energy. We are all about status, having a showdown and competition. It reflects on society with rational analysis, effective measurements, exploiting nature and being over ruled by technology. In part this is evolution and the other part is capitalism. These are powerful traits but the world is missing that ‘feminine energy’. The Yin to the current Yang. Our natural state is to be nonviolent, nurturing, caring and cherishing . But there is a catch to this: although it is said to be our natural state, research suggests that women and men express compassion differently and that these differences are due to socialization. Examples of this are the instances in which sensitive men are labeled as “gay” and women are expected to be nurturing and caring. To prove that it is not so black and white, I will give you a current example: It’s like putting Donald Trump and Angela Merkel in the ring for a boxing match (yes, the Donald is actually the ‘female’ energy here, as he must be one of the most emotional (ego anyone?) person in the world, whereas Merkel is driven by logic an principles, thus being the “male energy”.
If I would get a dollar every time someone told me that “women in power are horrible” I would be driving that Range Rover sport edition, matte black, and it would be fully paid for. The thing is that women have to compete in a male dominated world. It makes us go for those corner offices, academic greatness, prestige and financial freedom. Don’t get me wrong, I am all here for this ‘lean in generation’ yet, because instinctively these traits are not necessarily in our nature, Jentien sees a lot of cases in her practice where women who have achieved this level of ‘success’ feel like there is still a void. They are missing something. This can literally make them sick or unhappy. Of course this is not “all women”, some of us are just competitive as hell, dominant and outspoken and thus associated with being a bitch. Take Hillary Clinton as an example, every blind person could see that she would at least be a better leader than Donald Trump, yet because many found her to be too cold and shrill, she has to now watch a clown with a Twitter account rule the country (sad!). Furthermore, equal rights have also meant equal duties and in an attempt to not be associated with being soft and emotional beings, we created an unbalance for ourselves. In the end, many of us sacrifice health, dreams and following our intuition to be able to hold our ground in this man’s world. During sessions with these women, when asked “what do you have to offer the world”, they often go very quiet.
Mirror mirror on the wall
We wear power suits to the office, rock fly sneakers and shave our head bald and wear nine inch heels while still being super sexy (Amber Rose anyone, #girlcrush). But when we don’t know what we have to offer the world, with who we are and not with what we have, we become insecure. This insecurity translates itself into looking for validation in the wrong places. We believe that cosmetics, fashion and plastic surgery is the way to go. So, basically we are looking for validation from companies and brands that have set the beauty standards, and then sell products to cater to the same insecurity THEY have helped create. But as cliche as it may sound: true beauty comes from within. Nothing screams beauty more than a woman who can love her quirkiness, hips, wrinkles, belly fat and every other aspect that society tries to tell us that is wrong. Our exterior does not define what we have to offer the world. And being insecure has the same effect on us women that being in an abusive relationship has: you search endlessly and hopeless for love and recognition in places and people that do not have the capacity to love you the way you deserve to be loved. But us women being the ferocious, smart, versatile and talented beings that we are, we are creating our own movements, the “Body positivity” movement being one of the largest right now.
In the end, what womanhood is, what it means to us and how far we have come depends on several factors: including our culture, our geographical locations and most important: what ever the heck we decide to be. What I am trying to say with this blog is that although we may share many similarities as women, womanhood cannot be defined. But it is International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month and I am hellbent on saluting and celebrating every woman this month. Keep an eye out for many informative blogs on us women in the coming weeks.
Written by Shannon Crawford,