Today I am celebrating my glorious womanhood. I am doing it by being hormonally short tempered, absolutely exhausted, and not to put too fine a point on it, bleeding copiously. Let’s not neglect the aching that goes with all of this. I’m not entirely sure the bouts of tears are entirely due to the celebrations, so I’ll leave them out of the list.
I have ramped up the celebrations this afternoon by keeling over for a couple of hours, exhaustion at least in part related to the aforementioned bleeding.
All of which leaves me wondering, what precisely is there about womanhood that I should celebrate just for the sake of it?
Because I come across this idea frequently. That we should empower our young girls by celebrating their womanhood. Perhaps a little party as they come into their power (start bleeding that is). Secret rituals as you show them where you’ve hidden the sanitary products. The one where you help them wash the blood out of their favourite pants with cold water and salt is particularly powerful.
I’m not feeling empowered. Being a woman is obviously a part of who I am. If I wasn’t female, I couldn’t be a mother, and as noted before, that’s a massive part of my identity. But, if I hadn’t ever managed to have children, or even if I hadn’t wanted to, would that make me less of a woman? And if I were less of a woman, would I be less of a person?
Women are lesser people it appears. We get less money, less power, less representation. Even though we do the lion’s share of the caring work, housework, drudge work, things we do aren’t valued, and frequently aren’t paid. It’s just not viewed as important, even though to a large extent it’s what makes the world go round. So explain to me again what I should be celebrating?
My beautiful, strong, athletic, creative 13 year old daughter cut right through to it. Surely we should be celebrating every individual for themselves, not for any particular label?
And she’s utterly right. While we see these artificial divisions (and a large part of the divisions are artificial, socially constructed rather than actual) and celebrate them, we perpetuate them. And in perpetuating them we perpetuate the inequalities. I had hoped that by the time any children I had were grown, things like equal pay would be a done deal. Instead there seems to be little if any progress being made, and feminism is a dirty word, while social media has just become another way to threaten and oppress women if we get at all uppity.
I’m just not feeling the joy. Maybe in a few days time. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go find some painkillers.
Disclosure: image link is an affiliate link. If you decide to celebrate your glorious womanhood by buying a mooncup, I will get to share your joy.