Woman

I am a woman. I am proud of this. I do not consider myself the “weaker gender”. I am strength and courage. I pride myself in that.

However, I no longer base my womanhood on how feminine I am. This is a change for me. It wasn’t a conscious change, one day I just realized feminine does not equal womanly and vice versa.

As a kid I was a “tomboy”. Covered in dirt, scratches, and bruises with the boys, that was me. As I hit adulthood I was told this or that wasn’t “lady like”. I needed to be softer, gentler. So I stopped embracing my “rough” side if that’s what you want to call it. I kept my hair long and relaxed because guys “prefer” long hair on girls. I started wearing makeup because that’s what grown women do. I tried to dress more feminine and “cute”. I tried to soften up. I tried to learn to bite my tongue. I became a “woman”. I place the word in quotes because I became what people said a woman should be. I was always a bit uncomfortable with the “woman” I had become. It wasn’t me but I kept at it. 

And then I did something I thought was insignificant. I cut my hair. Not a little trim this time. I walked into a barber shop and cut it all off. I loved it. It was freeing. That’s when I started to notice a change in me. My womanhood was no longer based on how I looked. Strange right? A haircut shouldn’t really have that much power, but it did. See, the way I got my hair cut made me look a bit “dude-ish”. Without makeup and in my comfy clothes I started getting mistaken for a guy. I got called sir a few times actually. It didn’t bother me. In fact, I would answer with no correction of pronouns. Why? Because I realized I was a woman no matter how I looked and no matter what someone called me. I am a woman. Period. I am a woman because I say I am a woman. Makeup or no makeup. Long hair or short hair. High heels or sneakers. Skinny jeans or baggy clothes. I am still a woman. On the days I am feeling super feminine, I will rock a face full of makeup and strut in my heels with the best of them. On other days, I’m in a beenie and a Nintendo tee shirt hanging with my boys and fitting in flawlessly. I can be soft and gentle and rough around the edges. I’m still a woman. I am more comfortable with the woman I am now than I’ve ever been. Short hair, bare face, loud mouth and all. 

Womanhood, misogyny, and why I’m not cooking for your ass. (BEDA 9)

This is a real thing, ladies. This is a real thing. This was one of the posts that let me know it was time to get off of Facebook.

Essentially, if you do anything for your own benefit, and not your partners’,  you do not deserve to be a wife. You are not womanly. You are not worthy. This picture started a heated debate on the person’s page that posted it. Men were all in his comment defending reducing women to the tasks that they are able to complete because “men like being cooked for ” and “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. I know you just had to choke back your own vomit, it’s ok I had to as well when I saw it but let’s keep going. He defended it. When called on the microaggressions and misogyny, he denied that this was any of that. Apparently we were just reading too far into it. Men want to be cooked for and if you want a man then it is something you should do as a woman (no mention of reciprocation though). Even better, I shouldn’t have an opinion because I am gay and dating a woman (I am actually bisexual and date both men and women but whatever).

This is not the first meme I have seen like this. In fact, our black “men” (quotes around men because they really aren’t men at all) post memes bashing black women and their independence, their appearance, their very essence ALL THE TIME. Don’t believe me? Here’s a few:

Yep, dumb shit like this exists. Fight back the vomit! Fight it! I know it’s hard but stay with me ladies! After all of this, somehow we are still supposed to want to be all they want us to be. We should continue to mold ourselves to fit the list of things black “men” have decided a woman should be. Cook, clean, sit down, shut up, be docile. That is essentially the recipe for a good wife, at least in these fragile males eyes. Yeah, let’s just stop calling them men and go with males because that is what I am reducing them to, their sex… You know, like they reduce us to what we can do for them… These same males are often single and cannot understand why. They often have failed relationships in which the only fault they can see is in the woman they dated. They love to portray any black woman with an opinion as an “angry black woman”, regardless of whether there is any real anger. They often like to tell us that we are too sensitive. They pride themselves in pointing out every flaw in black women, flaw as in all the things we aren’t doing to exclusively make them happy. They feel our independence is what destroyed the black family. Yeah, you know that guy.

Luckily, I am surrounded by some wonderful real black men. Men that can proudly call themselves men. Men that do not give into the fragile masculinity that others are swimming in. Men that do not judge my worth by what I can do for them. Men that stand with me, not in front of me. I am blessed to know great men and I make sure they know it.

So ladies, surround yourself with great men. Raise great men. Love great men (if that’s your thing). Do not give in to the demands of fragile males. Teach you daughters how to differentiate between great men and the fragile males. Remain strong black women. Know that there are black men that love us, that see our struggle and thank us for it. Show these great men appreciation just as they show it to you. Let the fragile males play amongst themselves.

Great men, stay great. Do not succumb to fragile male societal views. Do not succumb to fragile male “women bashing”. Call these fragile males out on their bullshit, do not remain silent. Raise your sons to know greatness, not male fragility. Show your daughters what great men are really like. Know that we love you, and we see you!

Fragile males, please find the nearest highway and play in it. Get off the internet. Do no reproduce. Do not give your unwanted opinion. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

 

Different

I’m different. Not mentally or emotionally, but physically. I’m a woman but I don’t quite feel like one. Strange, yes. I’m sure you’re curious as to why I feel less like a woman than most. It’s because of my body. It’s broken. Not all of it, just the part that most makes me a woman. I have PCOS. Never heard of it? That’s ok, most people haven’t. It’s PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome. It means instead of ovulating like a normal woman, I form cysts all over my ovaries. It means I have trouble with fertility. It’s means I won’t get to nervously wait for a pregnancy test to say “pregnant”. They don’t know what causes it. Some of us just have it. My hormones are out of balance.
I don’t make it through the whole cycle most months. My periods are normally late or they may not come at all. There is a good chance I am not going to feel the happiness of finding out I’m pregnant by surprise. I will be in a doctors office making up a plan to get pregnant. I will have to work for it. Fight for it.
I am also resistant to my own insulin. Because of this, I gain weight VERY quickly and it’s VERY hard for me to lose it. See, because I don’t respond as well to my own insulin I don’t use my sugars for energy. In turn, my body thinks it is starving and wants food. The weight accumulates around my mid-section (the most unhealthy place to carry your weight). I’m always hungry. I’m always eating. The weight battle is a permanent part of my psyche.
I also have mild hirsutism, hair growth where women normally don’t have hair. I am constantly having to pluck and tweeze the hair from my lips, chin, and neck to keep from having a mustache… As if I don’t already feel like less of a woman.
Sometimes I can put it in the back of my mind. Sometimes I can pretend I am as normal as everyone else. And then the “I’m expecting!”, “I’m pregnant!”, “It’s a girl!”, “It’s a boy!”, posts on my timeline remind me of how wrong my body is. It reminds me I am not a whole woman, not in my eyes. It reminds me that time is ticking away for me, that the dream of a family is slipping away. I try and be happy. I try not to be jealous. I really do try. But it hurts. It hurts to know a big part of me is broken. It hurts to see the ultrasounds, the baby shower pics, the pregnant bellies, the birth announcements. It hurts… And I feel so guilty.