The Problem(s) with Being a Woman

I have had this post rolling around in my head for the past month or so. I make reference to a few of the incidences that have occurred over the past month that provided some of the inspiration for this post. The real spark came six days ago with this article. It helped remind me that these are painful, awful, ugly things to talk and think about but silence is like a scab on an infected wound. It will continue to fester and grow. 


As a biological woman, there are the obvious difficulties. Taking on the lions share of infant creation and nurturance. The monthly sluffing of uterine linings. A body shape that literally changes through out the month (see: uterine sluffing). The care and keeping of female plumbing presents it’s own discomforts and logistical challenges. 

Despite these challenges, I wouldn’t trade them. I like my biology. I like my body, it is kind of like living inside of a 4th grade science experiment. 

Gender-wise, I identify as a woman. I always have. Presenting as a woman has its benefits. I can wear a skirt or dress and no one will look at me askance. I can cry in public. These two things make up for a lot but not enough.

They don’t make up for all of the times that I have been harassed or stared at in public for having the audacity to be a female in public. This has happened in every single country I ever been in past puberty (the US, Macedonia, Greece, India, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Ireland, and Brazil). 

They definitely don’t make up for the Calculus of Preventing Assault or Rape, I must do before leaving the house. What time is it? What am I wearing? Where am I going? Should I change my route to avoid a dark alley? How many people are on the street right now? Have I been drinking? What am I carrying with me? Is there anything I can use as a weapon, if the need arises? 

They don’t make up for the times where, according to society, I performed that calculus wrong and was assaulted. 

Being able to cry and wear a skirt in public don’t make up for the fact that a man I don’t know sitting on my front stoop after dark is enough to make me text a friend and evaluate all the points of entry to my house. It also doesn’t make up for having to question every strange man I meet’s motives. “Is he really friendly or is he going to try to hurt me?” is a question I am really really tired of asking. 

And it definitely doesn’t make up for having to have that conversation with a little girl. When I have to explain to a nine year, that she can’t wear those shorts because they are too short. Being able to cry in public doesn’t make up for having to explain why too short is a thing a child must worry about. 


One response to “The Problem(s) with Being a Woman

  1. Dear Emma,
    You summed up the problem very clearly, and made me ask myself if I have been the cause for any women to worry. Another problem is the general attitude that there is no reason for a woman to go to college because when has a child she won’t have time to work. She should wait until her kids grow up, and then start college. Bad, bad!
    It also made me think about the problems of being a man. The only ones I can think of have to do with the attitude of manliness–no crying, no fears, and no regrets. The nice thing about getting older, I am finding, is that I’m not so concerned about my manliness. I cry, my doctors have given me some things to fear, and I really regret when I do something stupid.
    I doubt that I have exhausted all the problems of being a man, but you got me thinking about it. On the other hand, I have lots of reasons for being glad I’m a man and not a woman. I’m certain that men were not given the strength to endure what women suffer through. After all, God had a second chance when He decided to create woman!


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