I admit it. I sometimes feel uncomfortable being a woman. I’m not as deeply in touch with my femininity as I should be. I have not defined myself within my femininity. Haven’t owned that energy. I’m not saying that I’m masculine or that I identify easier with my masculine side, it’s just that it’s blurred—nonspecific. If I ask myself, “What does it mean for me to be a woman?” the answer doesn’t roll off my tongue.
My mind stops and looks for the right words. I need to think. I feel slightly uncomfortable not knowing the right words. I can check off some things on the list easily. Nurturing, check. Cook, check. Great listener, check. But beyond the basics, I’ve got questions.
Do men feel magic the way women do? Or at least the way some women do? I look at so many women today, baffled and angry. Grown up Barbie dolls, nothing to say, no power. Sex machines, I imagine. I don’t relate. If I’m honest, I will say I’m more spirited than sexual. Though I have a fire that when stoked is engulfing. But, I’ve cared more about giving birth to creative ideas than anything else. But don’t men do that too? Is it masculine to want to make things? I’m more of a gatherer than hunter.
I don’t fit into a container that’s easily labeled. I’m unique. I sense my power and my inadequacy—that conundrum makes me feel alive and lost at the same time. I want to hold hands with the world and fly. I don’t know what to do and want to do everything. The only place I feel truly comfortable is my home in all its reflection of me. Does that make me a woman? I’ve been good and bad. I’ve faked it. I’ve laughed at movies I didn’t think were funny. Pretended to like people because it was the polite thing to do. I’ve not told people to “Go to hell” who deserved it, because I didn’t want to rock that boat.
I’ve thought I was fat, so I cleansed a hundred times. I’ve looked in the mirror and wondered at my beauty. Am I beautiful today? I’ve evened out my breasts and ran up hills. I’ve worked hard, taken care of parents, fixed things for friends. I’ve made money and bought houses, cars, clothes, jewels. I’ve become a goddamn grown up with artichoke plates and a bar cart with good whiskey and absinthe. I have a sterling silver punch bowl for entertaining. Does this make me a woman?
I have a lingerie drawer full of lace and temptation. At least half still with tags on, bought for some idiot who, as it turns out, couldn’t get it hard. I have a perfume platter and vitamins and fluffy rugs. Does this make me a woman?
“You’re really hot,” he said. The theater still near empty. The screen on static, waiting for its next play. Popcorn already stuck to sweater. The lights uncomfortably dim. His handsome face, new to me. His eyes ready. “I wish the movie would hurry up and start,” I said, changing the subject. He wants me, this man I don’t even know. He’s looking for an open door, a window, a clue whether I would push him away or not. I’m wanted. Does this make me a woman?
I have a meditation room in my house. It’s full of books on every subject. I’ve hunted inside myself for the truth of who I am. Yearned to put language to my personal description. I’ve made long lists defining my essence. But I’m not a mother. I’ve given birth to lots of things but never another human being. Is this the missing link? Is this the foundation of womanhood I’m missing? For most of my life, I thought I would have children, but now I don’t know. I’m not sure. Emotionally that window may have closed. I have become comfortable in my indulgences and fear I’m too selfish now. Too happy with the way things are.
But in my core, I long to authentically define myself—to know and understand my power. Is this possible without motherhood? Can I fully know my rhythm without experiencing the process of labor? I must believe that being a woman is more than that—that it’s in the quality of our essence. Something transcendent. Does asking these questions make me a woman?