What Defines A Woman? The "Real" Definition of Womanhood
Updated: Mar 16, 2021
By Charasay Powell
"So when you look at my face
You gotta know that I'm made
Of everything love and pain. (These are the pieces of me)
Like every woman I know
I'm complicated fo' sho'
But when I love I love til there's no love no mo'. (These are the pieces of me)
-Ledisi, Pieces of Me
In honor of Women’s History Month, let’s take a moment to consider what it means to be a woman and collectively embrace it. Singer Ledisi’s song, “Pieces of Me” (quoted above), is aligned with my definition of womanhood.
Our society tends to create various personas of people based on any given element of our identities, basically like the proverbial round and square pegs, but with each generation we are finally realizing that things aren’t quite that easy. For every woman you ask, you will get a different definition of womanhood. That’s a good thing!
Like Ledisi sings about, I am made of many pieces, all of which I wear proudly like a badge.
I am the Intellect with a history of ruining test curves in high school and college, but also the Beauty fan who will spend hours playing in lipstick and experimenting with gold glitter (while trying to dodge the makeup artists who see me as the ultimate challenge...not sure how to feel about that…
I am the Old School Mama who will wake up any young'ns in my house (mine or not) on Saturday morning to Old School Music and Gospel with cleaning supplies on deck. I am the Modern Mama who will enjoy Tik Tok and Pop Smoke (RIP) with these same young'ns.
I am the Sorority Woman who is proud to be a part of the Divine 9 Legacy and will wear my pearls to celebrate this legacy, but I don’t clutch those pearls every time I see or hear something outside of my comfort zone.
I believe that much of what distinguishes masculinity from femininity is the innate qualities a feminine spirit is blessed with naturally. My interpretation is that these include a nurturing nature, courage and strength, and a talent for keeping things in order (both processes and physical places).
Again, each woman you ask will have her own unique interpretation that may or may not align with mine. Factor in the many variables that shape our perceptions, such as generation, upbringing, spirituality, culture, and many others, and it’s evident why we don’t just fit neatly into the aforementioned round or square pegs...and that’s perfectly okay!
I am traditional in many ways. I like to cook a hot dinner every day (not that I am above shortcuts such as instant biscuits) but I don’t judge the woman who feeds her household with DoorDash or Blue Apron. As long as your family is fed, it’s your choice how you accomplish that. If you like it, I love it!
I have earned an advanced degree and am a self-employed white-collar professional, but I encourage women to do what they love. Even if it’s non-traditional and involves shattering a few ceilings or destroying a few lanes (even in fields where we’ve shattered ceilings, we are still limited to certain lanes). At the same time, there is no shame in wanting to do something that women have traditionally done. Just don’t be motivated by external forces… do what you love!
We need to teach girls that it’s okay for them to dream about things that women have historically been steered away from. Some mental barriers are taught early in life, so it’s up to us to unblock them.
Women must support each other’s right to make choices that may not conform to our own visions of womanhood. We already face enough static from the world without adding another layer of oppression from each other.
Some may choose different lifestyles, clothing, sexual preferences, or make other decisions that we don’t agree with. Bluntly put, mind your business unless someone stands to be hurt or in danger. In that case, call on that nurturing nature and offer guidance and support in love.
In the words of Queen Latifah and Monie Love, Ladies First!
Charasay Powell is an insightful writer who evokes a wealth of personal and professional experience to communicate with a wide range of audiences. She is a seasoned HR professional who has worked for top global organizations, governments, and small businesses before becoming an entrepreneur in 2019. Charasay is comfortable in virtually any setting, from a Southern family reunion to a Fortune 500 boardroom, and has developed a proven talent for connecting with people from all walks of life. She takes inspiration from wordsmiths, such as Zora Neale Hurston, Dr. Maya Angelou, and Langston Hughes. Her goal is to continue the proud legacy these and others writers have established.
Connect with me on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn & Clubhouse @charasay
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