International Women's Day - What I've Learned About Being A Woman
Today is International Women's Day and I find myself thinking about everything I've learned about womanhood, sisterhood and feminism in my short 33 years of life. How exactly do you celebrate women? It's a day loaded with gratitude for the women who came before us; the women who fought tirelessly and without fame for equality; equality in the home, in the workplace and in society. What an exhausting battle - and we aren't finished yet. IWD is also a day filled with hope for the future, imagining a world where what's in our underwear doesn't affect our status or opportunity. Most importantly, IWD is a time for contemplation on what being a woman means. Here are some thoughts on what I've learned about being a woman:
- It all starts with knowing yourself. If you can't be honest about where you came from, who you are and who you aspire to be, you won't be able to live authentically. Society loves to tell us how to think, what to wear and who to fuck. It is a constant fight to recognize that you don't have to be anything, do anything, please anyone if you don't want to. Knowing your own mind - noticing your own limitations, exploring your strength and humbly seeking knowledge are the very first steps in becoming a woman of strength. The more time you spend getting to know yourself, the less likely you will be swayed by who other's tell you to be.
- Once you start to become acquainted with your mind; get to know your body. This beautiful, curvaceous, strong body that carries our even more beautiful, more luxurious and astoundingly stronger spirits. Touch yourself - all over. Notice what it feels like to love yourself. Find out what you like and don't like. If you can't figure out how to bring excitement and passion to your body, how will you ever teach someone else to do that? Orgasm. There, I said it. Have wonderful, beautiful orgasms. Run your fingers over your cellulite, stretch marks, muscles, soft spots, wrinkles and beauty marks. Your body is your story; it's your history and your present, be proud of it. Do not accept body shaming from others, but most importantly, do not accept body shaming from yourself. You are better than that. Your body is holy, treat it so. Do not allow any man or woman to ever do anything to your body that you do not like. It doesn't matter what situation this presents itself in - it is your body, you have control, you get to decide. Never let anyone take this power from you.
- Surround yourself with strong, wise, wholehearted and honest women. Do not shrink back, lower yourself or dismiss the opportunity to welcome these women into your life because you don't feel deserving. They are always sent to us to help open us up to our rawness, our beautiful intuitive and emotional selves. They teach us how to harness our own unique strength so that we can, in turn, teach someone else to discover their own personal beauty. Befriend women from different generations. Keep older and younger women in your life to be inspired and grounded. When you meet a woman who uses fear as a way of relating to other women, do not let her misguided words or actions re-write your story. Instead, stand firmly in who you are and show how the power of self-love can completely change a woman's life.
- Educate yourself. If you are reading this, I'll bet you are a white middle-class woman. We have a responsibility to our sisters; to the sisters that came before us, to our black sisters, Muslim sisters, immigrant sisters - to all of our sisters - to hear their stories and show compassion and allegiance to their cause. Everyone has a different part to play, but everyone must at least know the story. Ask questions, read books, expand, expand, expand. And remember - there are women in our world who were not born with a vagina, but they were born a woman none-the-less. Embrace them.
- Community Over Competition. No, this isn't some trendy saying that feels good coming out of your mouth. I'm talking about COMMUNITY OVER COMPETITION. Go ahead, yell it out. When you feel small, unintelligent, tired, dreamless, uninteresting and a woman exuding all the opposite of these qualities enters the picture - you choose community. When you own a business and you're faced with a decision that could mean lifting up another woman who is in the same line of work - you choose community. If you're unsure about whether you are about to act out of community or competition ask yourself this question: "Am I operating out of fear or love?" Fear will lead to you self-thinking, self-promoting, self-preservation. Love does the opposite. Love is expansive and inclusive and acts with the collective 'we' in mind. In order to succeed, we must lift us all up. Another woman shinning brightly does not dim your own light. The longer we step on each other to get ahead, the longer this journey towards equality will take.