To me, womanhood is embracing your strength, defying gender and social norms, shattering the class ceiling until nothing is left. As a gender, womanhood has been challenged since the earliest stories of creation and as a modern-day woman, I feel that it is my duty to further embrace these aspects of womanhood to inspire myself, others around me, and future generations of strong, badass women.
Websters Dictionary’s website has many definitions of the word “empower, and one of them is the verb to empower, explaining it as “to promote the self-actualization or influence of [something]” and uses its example as how the women’s march is inspiring and empowering to women. The word “empower” is being adopted into the culture of feminism and equality between all regardless of gender, gender identity, skin color, social standing, etc. “Empower” has become a very common word in my vocabulary lately and it has become a positive necessity in my life that touches everything I do. Everything I study for, every conversation, blog post, thought, has come from this place of empowerment that was once so deep inside me that I didn’t know it was there. Now, my empowerment has begun to grow and flourish within me and has taught me that I need to help other people grow.
I am currently taking one of the best classes I have ever taken in college called “Women in the World” and every day it inspires me to be a better woman and helps me to understand what it means to be female. I am very empowered by my gender and sexuality and I believe that it has given me a power and confidence in life. It gives me something to identify with and gives me a further understanding with the women around me. As women, we have been subject to the stories that our ancestors have been privy to which, when taken seriously, have been an integral part in shaping society’s standards of who women are to be in relation to themselves, other women, and men. The main one is the book of Genesis in the Bible. After the fall of man, the Bible states that Eve was to go from being in equal union to Adam to being beneath him and would have to follow his way instead of her own. I remember in grade school (which was a private catholic school) when the girls and boys would get into arguments with each other because of the whole Adam and Eve story. The boys would say that because Eve sinned first and convinced Adam to eat the fruit that girls are clearly inferior to boys. These gender barriors were present in us as young children and has fed a society where, although women are making amazing strides in the workforce, in sports, in the beauty community, and so many other places, we as an entire gender are still seen as inferior to men.
Inferior to men? FUCK THAT! Feminism is not about one gender being greater than the other. It is about each gender lifting the other up in all aspects of life. It’s about men not feeling emasculated if a woman is in a higher position than him. It’s about women supporting men who may take on responsibilities that were once considered too feminine.
I asked some of the people closest to me about what it means to them to be a woman and here’s some of their responses:
“Powerful yet flexible”
“Never letting others stop you from being who you are on the inside”
“Supporting other women, being proud of who you are. Women are real life superHERos!”
“Having the ability to nurture, love, adapt, support, cry, rage, calm and grow. We are a jumble of emotions and its our best attribute.”
My favorite quote comes from my beautiful mother: “I think empowerment means not sitting back and letting life happen to you, but tackling challenges head-on. I think it is also being unafraid to chase your dreams and do what you need to do in order to achieve those dreams, even if those dreams challenge society’s expectations and notions of womanhood. Keep doing what you are doing!” This is a woman who inspires me every day. I am never afraid to talk to her about anything and I know she has my back no matter what I do. My mom never followed what society expected of her. She did what felt right to her. Coming from a “traditional” family, her parents pushed her to get married right after high school but she wanted more out of life. She traveled, got a job, met my dad, and began her life her way. She worked while my sister and I were young and then decided to be a stay at home mom because she felt that it was best for her family. Then when I was 7, she went to college and finally got a degree she’d been wanting for so long. She worked her ass off with two small children, pets, a husband, and so many responsibilities to become an english teacher and inspire and mold the minds of the future. Sometimes I forget how much my mom has done to make her life the way she wants it and to also help my sister and I live up to our fullest potential and that selflessness is something I can only hope to come close to paying back.
To come to a conclusion to my rambling, being a woman is finding your path in your own way. It’s fighting to make a change fot the future that’s good for all. It’s finding your inner strength to accept and love yourself so that others can do the same. Being a woman means to empower. Take your strengths to empower yourself, those around you, and those you have yet to meet.