I don't often refer to myself as a "woman". Even though I'm already a full eight years older than my grandma was when she got married, I still feel more comfortable referring to myself as a "girl" (or, more often "gurl"). Maybe I'm confused or maybe I'm in denial, but at the ripe old age of twenty four I still feel like I fall in the category of "girl".
Recently I've been thinking about what exactly it means to be a woman in 2012, and how it's different from being a girl. When do you start referring to yourself and your friends with the big W? Is it when you turn twenty one? When you sign your first lease? When you buy your first household appliance? Get married? Have a baby?
And what are your responsibilities? As with many other things these days, the lines are blurred and there is no right or wrong way to be a woman. Get married. Or don't. Have a baby. Or adopt. Or have 9 cats. Or buy a house instead. Or spend your thirties building an empire. Or marry rich at twenty two and stay at home with your four kiddies every day.
No one is telling us how to be women anymore. Which, to be honest, sometimes feels even more challenging than the opposite. Because now, without the overbearing families and the pressures of 1950's society and its norms, we are left with nothing but possibilities. And with those possibilities, comes something far more daunting... choices.
Do I spend my 20's working twenty four seven, with little more than my forty eight hour weekends in which to cut loose and live liberally? Kissing a few frogs and bedding a few more while living it up in my one bedroom loft in Seapoint with my cat and my running shoes, "too busy for a relationship". Only to slow down mid-thirties and settle with the first responsible financial manager I meet at a networking event for all of ten months before we are married, pregnant homeowners who lived our youths separately and our midlife crises together?
And that's just one of the scenarios!
Unlike most men, my friendships were not set in stone the minute I sat down next to my grade 1 class mate. Much like Hannah in HBO's hit show Girls, I am adamant that "I do have friends from kindergarten. I'm just not speaking to them right now." My friendships are complicated and as special and as beautiful as they are, they are also fragile.
Do I choose to throw out the friendships muddied by harsh words and cutting remarks, the ones that are scratched and a little worse for wear? Or do I push through, holding on to the dear memories and echoed laughs from a time when we had all our classes together and only trivialities to disagree about?
Now that I am free to make my own choices, do I choose to stray from my parent's ideas of marriage before moving in together, buying a house before spending money on travelling, settling down to save for a rainy day...or do I follow my own head and heart and choose my own map from which to follow my future?
I think that being a woman in 2012 is challenging in it's freedom. I never knew what it was like when women had to fight for their rights, which I am incredibly grateful for. Yet somewhere deep inside me I long for a womanly cause for which to protest. Something to believe in, something to make me shout "I AM WOMAN!" at the top of my lungs.
I sometimes feel completely disconnected from my womanliness. Like I need someone to expect me to wear matching lingerie and heels everyday, cook a full dinner and make babies like it was my job or I'm just another human, devoid of any sex. But I once read a quote by Caitlin Moran (author of How To Be A Woman) which has always stuck with me.
“We need to reclaim the word 'feminism'. We need the word 'feminism' back real bad. When statistics come in saying that only 29% of American women would describe themselves as feminist - and only 42% of British women - I used to think, What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of 'liberation for women' is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? 'Vogue' by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF THE SURVEY?”
That quote reminded me that no matter what I do for a living, or what I wear, or the status of my relationship with a man or anything else, I am a woman. And I choose to be the woman that I want to be, how I want to be. And I will choose who I marry and to have children. And then I will choose when to have children and I will choose what is best for them. And I choose to celebrate Women's Day, my own womanliness and the women who inspire. And thank goodness for that.
Happy Women's Day, gurls.