On April 10th a I saw an article on here titled “50 Ways to Be a Woman” I clicked on the link hoping to find something refreshing and not gender stereotypical. What I found was not a solid stance on what a woman is. There were some very progressive statements that made me proud to be female; but, then others that left my heart feeling heavy with how degrading and typical they were. Some of the points I agreed with, but I had to stop about half way through. Not because I didn’t agree, but because the list was unfair. There are not just 50 ways to be a woman. There are an infinite number of ways to be a woman.
I don’t want to write my own “50 Ways” list because it would mute the beauty that was in Caitlin Leggett’s article. Instead I just want to respond and show why we need to stop putting woman, and everyone, in gender typical boxes. Everyone’s views will be different and we won’t all agree with these ideas, but defining what makes a quality human is not anyone’s place.
As a conservative woman in college I agree in getting an education, not lowering my standards, and being the type of woman that my future daughters can look up to. All things mentioned in the list. It doesn’t mean though that I am only getting an education because I am a woman, or lowering my standards only because I am a woman; nor, does it mean that I only want to be someone that a daughter could look up to. I am getting an education to make myself happy, and further my knowledge in a field that I know I can help. This shouldn’t be an ambition only for women though, everyone should feel empowered enough to pursue education and self-improvement. I don’t lower my standards, only because I am a woman, I do so because I am worth it, but men, they are also worthy of having standards. Relationships are a partnership, not a dictatorship. If only one person has standards than it is not equal. I don’t only want my future daughters to look up to me, I want everyone to be able to look up to me. Being a person that can relate to all, and can be a role model to all is empowering and the greatest form of equality.
The list went on and said other “goals” and “ambitions” that frustrated me, but I read out of hoping to understand why they were phrased the ways they were. I found humor in parts of it, like, insisting on not conforming to gender stereotypes, but then later her listing that we should wear pink. I chose to find it humorous and not contradictory.
There was one statement however that I could not accept on this list. Number twenty three: “ Be the woman a man NEEDS, not the woman that needs a man.” This is a stark double standard that some modern “feminists” seem to hold. Stating, again, that in a relationship one person can only rely on another is unfair. We enter into partnerships to rely on each other, to support each other, and love each other equally. If only the man is the one in need for that relationship it’s not fair for anyone involved. There is no equality in stating that a man NEEDS a woman, and it’s no different than saying that a woman NEEDS a man. This double standard is why inequality among ￼genders still exists, and is in danger of never going away. That being said there will never be a relationship where one person won’t need their partner. It’s inevitable, but don’t make it a never-ending one way street.
All this being said I did find solace in reading something so thought out by someone my age. Defining ways to be a woman, while unsettling, is something that will happen. I accept that we all will feel differently about the ideas expressed in the article, but we do need to understand that femininity, masculinity, and being a human is complex. So, my list on how to be a woman is one thing…
Be your own woman, and make yourself proud. I will do so wearing pearls, but maybe not while wearing pink.