Actualizado: 15 jun 2018
Betty Gabriela Rodriguez
Look at the definition of ‘woman’ in several dictionaries, then check how often it refers to the word ‘female’. Quite often right? Now, if you also check some other English dictionaries you can see that it was formed from the (very) old English word ’wīfmon’ meaning being wife. Ergo, the combination of wife+man gave life not only to the term we use today, but also the cultural association of our gender with marriage.
This outdated and incomplete definition made me realize that I have never thought about my own definition of woman. I am not expecting to coin a revolutionary term with a brand new definition but somehow, I want to provoke some critical reflections. I think this way of defining us leaves behind some main biological, social and spiritual sides.
First, relating to the biological aspect, I agree with those who claim that gender is not a binary system (‘male’ and ‘female’) but a broader dynamic spectrum. In fact, I believe that only cisgender persons (cis) – those whose gender corresponds to their birth sex- fit into those labels. By contrast, transgender, agender, gender fluid, gender queer, among several others are invisible and consequently excluded from our societies. No more does woman = female. No more does sex = gender.
Second, concerning the social dimension, keep in mind that human interactions are governed by a huge set of unwritten social rules, including those about how gender should be performed. The social determinism that reduces women to be with men, get married and have kids have led to years of discrimination, a huge gender gap and so many other manifestations of social exclusion. For example, if a girl enjoys rough, noisy activities -traditionally associated with boys- or likes girls is not called girl but tomboy. Similarly, if a woman has an open or explicit sexual behavior is most likely to be called whore, slut or bitch than just woman. All those labels have their origin in the role we have been asked to play in society according to those unwritten moral and discriminant rules. No more does woman = must be/do/act XYZ.
Finally regarding the spiritual side, I have to point out that this is the most personal and subjective one. I share this based on my own life experiences. I love symbols and magic. There is a silent beauty behind every aspect of our lives. No matter the gender you identify yourself with or the role that society asks you to play, there is a receiving (feminine) and giving (masculine) energy in you. This combination allows you to give and receive energy depending on the situation. For example, when we lead teams, we are sharing our energy, our vision, to accomplish a common and bigger goal. When we conceive a child, we are receiving energy but when we carry and give birth we are sharing ours. It is a beautiful endless cycle. You can think about the moon and the sun too. The moon has no light, but it manages to shine only because its surface reflects the light from the sun. They have complementary qualities and energies. Sometimes I receive, sometimes, I give; but as a woman I know I have and need both.
I want to transcend my individuality helping others not because I am supposed to -as a woman- but because I feel passionate about it. I try to avoid labels, but sometimes I chose to use them. For me, being a woman is a label that I carry out proudly when advocating for our rights but that is irrelevant when making personal decisions. I dress, I speak, I feel, I interact as I please.
Please do not allow others to define you. I dream of seeing other folks defining themselves regardless of what other people say about them and ask from them. The most important person in your life is you, so you are the only voice that you should hear when making choices.
I think all this means that we can expect some other uncommon definitions in the near future from this blog and foundation. All are welcome! This adventure has just begun!