by Sadie Newman
It seems like everyone has a different definition for what a woman is or who a woman should be. If you ask some what they think a woman is they will respond that a woman should be polite, not too outspoken and a support system for her family. Others will argue that a woman should be job-focused, completely independent of any man and strong minded. Of course, you will get answers that are anywhere in between these two opposing viewpoints of what a woman is or should be.
It is interesting to observe the boxes that people place women in when trying to understand gender roles in American society. Why do we try to place women in these definitive roles? People have all different perceptions of what a woman is and who she should be, leading women to have insecurities and constraints on how they should think and behave. This is the very reason why it is important to recognize women as individuals, not a collective.
The Collective Effect
When society begins to group individuals based on gender, sexuality, race, religion, socio-economic status, etc. people are no longer singular people, but a sample of the population based on identifications. Due to this collective effect, women become a series of ideas of what they should be as a group, instead of existing as individually unique women from all different backgrounds. A woman is more than just a gender – she is a series of fluid thoughts that she has chosen to use to describe herself.
A Woman is Who She Wants to Be
A woman is whoever she wants to be. When the constraints of “should be” no longer exist then the fluidity of what a woman can be increases. If a woman wants to live a life of raising a family and maintaining a nine to five job, then so be it. If a woman wants to participate in a deemed “masculine sport,” then society should be rooting for her all the same. Society should not encourage women to be anything but themselves.
Not a Collective, but a Bond
Although women should not be seen as a sample of the population, a collective, a bond still exists. Women can find comfort in that other humans understand some of the basic characteristics of being a woman, for example, the prejudice that oftentimes exists. Women being able to hold conversations with other women about what it is like to identify as that gender is a special thing that should be appreciated and used to bond together. The bond forms when women encourage each other to fight for equality while appreciating every woman’s individuality.
Being a woman is a special thing that is a fluid idea, not one of constraints and limitations. Let the idea of what a woman should be remain unknown and encourage the individuality that ultimately exists. The lines between masculinity and femininity are blurring and the opportunities of what a woman is are endless. Go out into the world and be more than the collective idea of what a woman is – just be you.