How Lovely to be a Woman
How are we going to identify ourselves as women as we continue through this century?
I went to see the opera, Lorelei, knowing that the themes would probably feed into this blog that was already half-formed in my head and which was awaiting some extra threads to make it whole. It was spectacular, but confronting as promised, full of primal womanly power, glamour, frustration, vengeful anger, and grief. The portrayals of womanhood were riveting in their complexity and pain. The shrugging off of the message as "something we might think about when we get home", as expressed by the woman who sat next to me, made me wonder how much we really are aware of our place, history and identity as women in this society and how much we are willing to refashion them going forward.
What does it mean to be a woman in this society, in any society, throughout history, and in diverse cultures? Are we embracing all that womanhood has to offer? What have we learned and what are we sharing about this? Are we acknowledging and processing the ancestral trauma and present pain so that we can release the anger and create a healed society? Are we taking the best care of ourselves, physically, emotionally and spiritually? Are we united or divided, within ourselves, with each other and with men? Who do we want to be now and in the future? What can we learn from ancient cultures and spirituality to increase our awareness? What might we need to unlearn? Are we sharing knowledge with younger generations from love, or are we perpetuating suffering? Who are the role models?
Does being a woman mean behaving a certain way, looking a certain way, or feeling a certain way? Does it mean feeling that you have to look 30 when you're 50? Does it mean trying to look like a model? Does it mean being the first to regain a post baby body? Does it mean being the first to attract the attention of the males in the room? I'm sure we'll look back at this phase of tiny waists, oversized butts and botox with embarrassment. Just more ways to prevent our growth and expression. Just more ways to keep us enslaved to unrealistic expectations of womanhood.
What have we been told about womanhood up until now? Many women of my generation, in this time and place, have been told to expect the 'nuisance' of their period, something that they will have to put up with for most of their lives. They are then told that they will suffer through childbirth, but that it will be worth it as the pinnacle of happiness that they will experience in their lives. Menopause is barely spoken of at all, except as a warning of further unpleasant symptoms and the beginning of lack of potency and value as a woman.
My observations growing up were that a woman was expected to be a giver, a sacrificer, ladylike and modest. I understood that a woman was expected to look attractive, to not be too needy but then again not too independent either, and to not be too greedy or ask for too much. Many women have taken on roles as people pleasers and peacemakers to their own detriment. Out of resentment, we then tend to expect the same of others.
But, woman can do anything, we were told. So, what do we want to do? I think many women of my generation have felt that they have failed or missed out if they haven't married or had children, or ticked off the other required boxes. They might also feel conflicted if they don't have a strong desire to tick these boxes off. They are looking outside of themselves for that holy grail of happiness that can only really be found within. I don't think we've completely embraced ourselves as fully-rounded people in our own right, or that we've realized that our worthiness does not lie in being worthy of the male gaze. We were brought up on Disney cartoons and the ideal of the white picket fence. We were told some silly things, like ''men will be lining up around the block for you". Never happened by the way. There is a collective disappointment that life failed to deliver what was promised, or that what was promised wasn't as satisfying as expected.
Women are natural-born creators, capable of being creators of life and creators of our own lives. It's no wonder that we hold anger at being controlled for so long. We are not designed to be living that way. We are designed to be contributors, sharers, connectors, expressers, nurturers and constructors. Never for a second of my life did I ever want to be anything but female. It is a privilege to be a woman and to be in a time and place where we are in the position to bring our gifts to the world. It's time for us to step into our power, men and women, in whatever ways we want to show up in the world. There are no rules. We need to be the role models, showing through our example that there are many ways of being in this world and that diversity is the most exciting part of life. We need to embrace the beautiful seasons of life, the Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, and all that they have to offer. And, we need to continue to show the world who we are and how we want to be treated.
I have included some resources below for your interest. Some of these perspectives may be very different from those that we're familiar with in the time and place in which we've been living. For those reading this, who have grown up with different experiences to those that I've touched on above, please share these with us as it would be wonderful for us to be able to broaden our perspectives and enjoy the benefits of exploring additional aspects of what it means to be a woman. I am only a learner too, and am eager to know more. There is so much more to us that we realize.
Bridget Neilson. (2018). Living as the Divine Feminine. Moon-cycle / Menstruation / Period intuition. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoCRstOB9lA&list=LL&index=26
Teal Swan. (2017). A spiritual perspective on periods and menstruation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRCAvsOl8Xs
Bridget Neilson. (2018). Breast health and feminine spiritual / sexual energy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QyWzem7YjU&list=LL&index=25
Peruquois. (2012). Sacred breasts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhWSIEcXyPE&list=LL&index=12
Jocelyn Daher. (2019). Exploring the mysteries of menopause. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dM_QgEvVdhc&list=LL&index=17