” Womanhood is something you don’t consider until it hits you ” – Laura Marling
Just to let you know from the outset, this isn’t a down with men, women run the world type of post. I’ll leave that for the true radicals. This is more my flimizy attempt of how to do womanhood, a sort of guide for women like me.
Last week we celebrated 55 years of Jamaican independence and like true patriots my girlfriends and I attended celebrations in the city square. We soaked up the good vibes, eat some nice food and left with our clothes perfumed by the smoke from the jerk pans. Afterwards we grabbed some desert and sat talking about how to put the world to rights (as we usually do). We’re all passionate women, who see the importance of leaving some kind of legacy; however there was one thing that my friend said that really struck me – “nobody has shown us how to exactley do this…”
As 30 something women we have the right of passage into womanhood. We’ve been raised by strong independent woman, who have instilled in us a good work ethic and a strong sense of worth. But irrespective of how my mother tried to prepare me I never considered the true prospect of womanhood until it hit me.
I understood the transition from girlhood to womanhood, particularly the observable parts of being a woman – hair, curves, heels and manicures. I also understood that I would have to carry myself as a woman – cross my legs, sit up straight, be intelligent but not too assertive (because men don’t like that). However now that I’m living my womanhood, things are even more complex than I expected. Outside of the stereotypes of how I should look and express myself, I have to negotiate the dark-side of womanhood.
In my naivety I thought that womanhood would give me access to a sorority of sisters – a inner circle of women supporting women sort of thing. The reality looks more like women being suspicious and derogatory towards other women for reasons as pathetic as, “she’s here to take my man”.
My womanhood is therefore confronted by two enemies – the one from outside that denies my rights to true equality and the one from within that denies my passage into true womanhood. Alexandra Elle said that, “Women forget how much we can inspire one another. No one understands us like us.” This also means that we know exactly what do and say in order to tear each other down. The darkside of womanhood ain’t pretty. Other women can leave you feeling like a total outcast because you haven’t fulfilled certain rights of passage – get married, have babies.
I’ve transitioned into womanhood much like a boeing 747 landing in a thunderstorm. It’s been choppy and I’ve had to make several attempts but now that I’m safely on the tarmac I have a responsibility to support other women to make their landing. Does this mean that I’m a full-fledged member of club womanhood? Nope, it certainly doesn’t ! Womanhood is a journey of responsibilities, its my duty. Every woman that I come into contact with is me; she is my grandmother, mother, sister, friend.
I’m a link in the intricately formed chain of womankind, my duty is to hold this chain tightly together. This means I have to speak about other women in a way that binds us together rather than tears us apart. I have to share my experiences with other women in a way that strengthens and uplifts. Womanhood isn’t merely a box ticking exercise, its a conscious effort to leave legacy. Kavita N. Ramdas penned my ideal of womanhood so eloquently,
“We need women who are so strong they can be gentle, so educated they can be humble, so fierce they can be compassionate, so passionate they can be rational, and so disciplined they can be free.”
Womanhood is the essence of my character, it’s what I do and who I should want my daughter to be.