The Reality of Womanhood

By Kayli Harley, TIWP Student

From the moment their eyes open, within the first seconds of their existence, women are conditioned to believe that the world is something they need to earn. We are provided a set of guidelines for our behavior: be sweet, but have grit; be calm, but have passion; be polite, but speak your mind. You see, what some don’t quite understand is that we cannot always occupy both spaces. Grit requires relentlessness, passion is rarely tranquil, and my words will not always please your ear. This makes me no less of a person, in fact, it is the fabric of my humanity. Don’t all the great women act upon their multitudes? Are not all the great female athletes full of grit? Are not all the great female writers full of fiery passion? Are not all the great female politicians cunning and controversial? Do they not all break the rules?

But there is a problem in this too because women are also told that we need a platform to make a difference. What about the mother, sick with the flu, who still makes dinner for her family; is there not perseverance in that? And what of the young girl who fights the misogyny of her peers with her words; why is it that we only see her outburst and not her restraint? Perhaps the defining trait of all women is their patience. Yes, we have been mistreated, but we cannot express our anger fully because it scares men. They understand our position and they fear our worth. Women are the givers of their very lives, we are the backbone of economies, and our hearts could remake the world.

So, what do men do? They feed us this image of a “perfect” woman. Why is this successful? It works because Requirement Number One in a woman’s guide to perfection is her ability to please. Please his eye by looking this way, please his heart by acting that way, and please his mind by playing yours down. We are taught that to be loved we need to be less than what we are, but we also need to be more than what they think we are. We cannot be complete because a man must complete us. Women are more than this. We cannot be confined to the standards they draw because if we could be they wouldn’t exist to begin with.

So, here is what I will do: I will be sweet and have grit, I will be calm and have passion, I will be polite and make them hear my voice. And, frankly, men are lucky that we are capable of both, because if we didn’t have patience, if we didn’t value compassion, men would be more than scared. 

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