before we get started, this is all about my experience of womanhood and what it means to be. by no means do I believe this is everybody's experience - if you had to write a list I'm sure yours would be different and wonderful too. There are many ways to be a woman and however you choose to express that is right for you.
It can be easy to get overwhelmed with negativity - living as a woman in a patriarchal society that still discriminates and condemns has its struggles. It is a myth that women who are in touch with their spiritual side are all love, light and blessings. You might find that these women are actually well-acquainted with their darker side, have accepted it and embraced it, even though society tells them they must put a smile on their face and pretend it doesn't exist.
The problem about suppressing those darker feelings, that darker nature of woman, is that when feelings become suppressed they manifest in other ways. As women, how we suffer! Menstrual cramps, migraines, irritable bowel - I used to frequently suffer with all these things and I am inclined to believe a lot of it was to do with the anxiety and tension I was holding in my body. Even now when I am pushing myself too hard, a migraine gets sent to force me to bed.
All these things aside - I love being a woman. I wouldn't choose to be anything else. I have no concept of being anything else. The immense benefits I gain from womanhood, although they don't erase my weaker position in society, they give me inner satisfaction. I used to see my body as something alien and unpredictable that kept letting me down, but now I see it as a living organism with cycles and patterns I was too busy to notice before.
Why I love being a woman...
I love my ability to grow a child and give birth. Far from being a static, decorative object, my body is incredible. It can produce a child from the minutest of cells and keep that child alive after birth until they are ready to wean. The power and strength I discovered in my body during labour is one of the biggest revelations of my life. I wouldn't swap this gift for anything.
I love the bond with other women. When I was younger I was indoctrinated into the idea that women are only rivals for love and possessions. I used to prefer the simple, light company of my male friends that didn't make any emotional demands on me and seemed uncomplicated. Every encounter with another woman was awkward as we sized each other up and mentally decided who was superior. I used to think that women were frivolous and jealous beings that I didn't have the time for. The bonds that were broken over men. As I grew I began to crave a deeper kind of friendship and I have met some amazing women who really challenged my idea of what it means to be a woman and supported and nourished my growth. I consider these women sisters and best friends. It is a bond like no other.
I love my relationship with my mother. As I became a mother myself I only truly began to appreciate the immense sacrifice and love that goes into having a child.. I think the bond between mother and daughter is so special and I hope I can experience it again for myself one day.
I love the connection women have with the spiritual. I am in tune with nature's cycles, the small shifts in the universe and generally operate on a different level. I love exploring the pagan side of womanhood and the meaning of the Goddess and it has been a journey of wonderful self-discovery. I love that women evolve and change through Maiden, Mother and Crone and our nature is never stagnant.
I love breastfeeding. It fills me with joy to be able to sustain a child with only my body. I love the hunger in a baby's face for the milk and the fervour with which they latch on and drink their fill. The oxytocin courses through my body, causing my shoulders to relax and me to sigh. The slow glug of the baby as they drink, when they are finished and they have one red cheek and milk running down their cheek. It is the most beautiful thing.
I love the connection with nature. Before I had my son, I felt like I was the only person with an animal body trying to pass as a human. I couldn't believe that this body, with hair and sweat and monthly bleeding, had any correlation with anybody else's. This was until I discovered the lie about womanhood to hide us from our true natures. Women are SUPPOSED to be closer to nature and all that that entails - that is the source of our true power. But we have been convinced otherwise, convinced that our role is to be soft and perfect or else we have somehow 'failed' at being a woman.
I love following the cycles of the moon. The 'mens' in menstrual means moon. If you track your cycle you should start to notice a pattern. The theory is that there are two separate moon cycles:
- the mother cycle. This is when you ovulate with the full moon and bleed with the new moon. This is nature's basic blueprint and is optimum for conceiving children.
- the wisewoman cycle. This is when you ovulate with the new moon and bleed with the full moon. This is said to be the cycle of wisewomen and witches.
It is important to remember that your cycle can fluctuate between the two cycles depending on your state of mind and what stage you are at in your life.
I love the contrast I feel with my men. Although I despise enforced gender roles, I also believe that there is a difference between men and women and one that can be embraced. I feel like many men and I are opposites; they are the solid mountain and I am the stream that runs fast or slow, creating the undercurrent of our relationship. There is a visceral pleasure I feel when they hold me and I can feel that heart beating to what I know is a different rhythm.
I love the pleasure it brings me to decorate my body, not as society dictates but how I feel most beautiful. The tattoos that fit the curves of my body and the earrings that swoop down my neck. The delicate rings curving around my nose and the way they glitter in the sunlight. All these things give me pleasure in my body and appearance for all the right reasons.
I love my bond with my son. I love that I birthed him, held him and nourished him in his early days and in moments of distress it is my arms he wants to find. I will love him like no other and will never let him be in doubt of that.