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What It Means to be a Woman

Updated on November 18, 2015
lawdoctorlee profile image

Ms.Treadwell is a licensed attorney and the author of "How Do Hurricane Katrina's Winds Blow: Racism in 21st Century New Orleans."

Alice Paul, Ph.D, LL.M, LL.D (b. 1885; d. 1977)

"There will never be a new world order until women are a part of it."  Alice Paul - American suffragist, sociologist, lawyer, and leader of the National Women's Party for 50+ years.
"There will never be a new world order until women are a part of it." Alice Paul - American suffragist, sociologist, lawyer, and leader of the National Women's Party for 50+ years. | Source

If you think being a woman is all about biology, think again, because that is just a scientific identification and bodily function. Although I experienced nearly all that there is to physically being a woman, including bringing life into this world three times over, what my body is capable of doing does not make me a woman. This hub is dedicated to all real women - the ones who paved the road and the ones who travel it daily.

The no-fuss me.  No make up, a simple ponytail, and jeans.
The no-fuss me. No make up, a simple ponytail, and jeans. | Source

Physicality does not define "a woman."

Let me explain. Having a menstrual cycle does not make her a woman. Some females begin their cycles at nine. She is not yet a woman. Some females, because of a medical issue, may never begin a cycle. She is not less of a woman. Eventually, all females stop menstruating. She did not stop being a woman. Bringing life into this world does not make her a woman. Some women are unable to conceive or carry life. Some women choose not to. She is not less than a woman.

Some women are well-endowed while others have no need for a bra. The "DD" cup woman is no more of a woman than an "A" cup. Some women have no breasts at all after surviving the battle against breast cancer. She is not less than a woman. For some women, due to a medical necessity, the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries were completely removed. She is still a woman. Nothing less.

Some women have curves; some are rail-thin. She is still a woman. Some have long hair and some have short hair. Some cry because they lost all of their hair. She is still a woman. Some wear make-up and some do not. Some wear dresses and others wouldn't dare. Some wear heels while others prefer to be bare. She is still a woman. Some love men and some love other women. She is still a woman. Some cook, clean, and take care of babies. Some are astronauts, world leaders, doctors, lawyers, or soldiers. Some are educated and some are not. Neither is more woman than the other.

One thing is common to all women, we all struggle to fit into a male definition or stereotype of what a woman is rather than defining it for ourselves. The time has come for that to stop.

Me and G
Me and G | Source

Give that woman an award.

As if we don't have enough stereotypes of what a woman is, or should be, now we have to deal with the fact that someone who was a man for more than 65 years is now "a woman" and received a "Woman of the Year" award. Now the voices are putting forth the notion that this is what women should aspire to be. As if it were not enough that the message forever has been that women are not as good as men in any arena, now women are not good enough to even be a woman - her birthright. Somehow, a 65-year old man can do that better if you give him a great surgeon, a dress, and six months of parading as a woman. Assuredly, "she" is not a woman. "She" is a human being, free to do what "she" wants with "her" body, mind, clothing, and life. But "she" is not a woman because "she" has no concept nor the experience of being a woman. All of "her" success comes from being a man - "her" very celebrity comes from being a male athlete.

If one needs proof of the misogynistic world in which we live, consider "Chaz" - born a woman, was completely disrespected and mocked when he identified as a male and underwent gender reassignment. Did GQ give him an award for man of the year? The message then is this: a woman is not accepted as a man (no matter what she looks like physically) but a man is accepted and celebrated when he identifies as a woman.

We live in a perpetual misogynistic world that sends the message that the only thing of value in a woman is her set of breasts and that she wears a dress rather than who she is as a person and giving her credit for the obstacles she must overcome simply for being born and raised as a female.

"One in four women is a victim of severe intimate partner violence. From 1994 to 2010, 4 out of 5 victims of intimate partner violence were female." The National Domestic Violence Hotline

Victimization of Women

  • 1 out of every 6 women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.
  • 17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape.
  • 9 out of every 10 rape victims were female.

RAINN.

Women "are refused access to education and political participation, and some are trapped in conflicts where rape is perpetrated as a weapon of war. Around the world, deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth are needlessly high, and women are prevented from making deeply personal choices in their private lives." Human Rights Watch.

Women & Economics

  • Women make just 78 cents for every dollar earned by men.
  • Black women earn only 64 cents and Latinas only 54 cents for each dollar earned by white men.
  • 1 in 4 homeless women is homeless because of violence committed against her.
  • Over 1,000 public K-12 schools in the United States have single-sex education programs. Many rely on discredited science and gender stereotypes.

American Civil Liberties Union.

Source

Being a Woman

Every woman faces the challenges and pitfalls of what being a beautiful woman means - because it is ever changing. Many go to the extreme. Literally, they cut off their noses to spite their beautiful faces - an attempt to achieve perfection available only through Photoshop. Many starved themselves to be thin only to be criticized for the same. Many overeat to soothe their emotional wounds only to be ridiculed for their size. Women have the daily battle against the voices who say they are not good enough or not woman enough.

Being a woman is found in the soul, the mind, and in the struggle of being a woman in a sexist, male-dominated world. A woman is a living, breathing, feeling, human being. "She" is just a pronoun. Being a woman is something more.

Being a woman is about standing tall when she is degraded as a woman or shedding the tears when she can stand no more. Being a woman is about surviving the "power struggle" to have a voice about the trajectory of her own life. Being a woman is about pushing forward when the men in her life tell her it cannot be done; and she says, "Watch me." Being a woman is about having to prove to everyone else, everyday of her life that she is not weak and should not be underestimated. It is about banging on every door of opportunity until someone opens it. Sometimes it is a woman who opens the door. Being a woman is about all that she brings from her heart to uplift her family and other women. Being a woman is about a valuable perspective that only women have. Being a woman is not about being the same as men or "equal" to them but instead being valued for her femininity. And for so many equality never comes because it is falsely defined as taking on the role of the man in addition to her "duties as a woman."

Being a woman is about hugs, wiping tears, encouraging others to be their very best, setting the example for other women to follow, unconditional love, and bringing that "feminine touch" to the world that only we can bring. Being a woman is about being set up for failure and succeeding anyway. The strongest women define womanhood for themselves but only after they survived the inferno of attacks that come along with being born and raised as a female in a male-dominated society.

I'm a daughter, a sister, a mother, a wife, a girl's best girlfriend, and more. I'm soft, I'm sensitive, I'm tough, I'm me. I will always be grateful that I am a woman and for everything that it means to be one.

By Liza Lugo, J.D.

(c) 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Originally published November 16, 2015. Latest revision: November 17, 2015.

Ms. Lugo retains exclusive copyright and publishing rights to all of her articles and photos by her located on Hub Pages. Portions of articles or entire content of any of these articles may not be used without the author's express written consent. Persons plagiarizing or using content without authorization may be subject to legal action.

Permission requests may be submitted to liza@lizalugojd.com

American Civil Liberties Union. "Women's Rights." http://www.aclu.org/issues/womens-rights. Access date 11/16/2015.

Human Rights Watch. "Women's Rights." http://www.hrw.org/topic/womens-rights. Access date: 11/16/2015.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline. "Get the Facts and Figures." http://thehotline.org/resources/statistics. Access date: 11/16/2015.

RAINN. "Who are the Victims?" https://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims. Access date: 11/16/2015.

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      The playing field has been sloped against women since the beginning of time. I'm all for leveling that field. I love this; it should be read by every teenager in this country. Hopefully by the time they are adults they will have learned this valuable information. For some adults now I fear it is too late...but we keep winning the battles we can win, right?

    • lawdoctorlee profile image
      Author

      Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD 17 months ago from New York, NY

      Bill, as always, thank you so much for taking the time to read my work and for commenting. I'm glad that you "love this." I'm humbled that you think "it should be read by every teenager in this country." It's been burning in me for a long time and I struggled to find the right words. The words have come sporadically over the years. Most often in my conversations with my daughter where the resounding themes were "be the best you that you can be," "wear what makes you feel comfortable," and "be true to yourself always." Maybe if we lived our lives like someone is watching, we could put our best foot forward. We will continue to fight the battles, one at a time, and, hopefully, that comes with the support of strong and secure men.

    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 17 months ago

      "The "DD" cup woman is no more of a woman than an "A" cup."

      That statement is so true and yet sometimes there seems to be some animosity not just in breast size but overall sizes of women against each other. Plus size women will say: "Real women have curves".

      Thin women or those who drop their weight rather quickly after delivering a baby are accused of "fat shaming" other women.

      It's enough that women have to compete with men and fight for equal pay without there being so much gender infighting.

      Women who want to break through the glass ceiling and women who want to be stay at home moms should mutually respect one another.

      I suspect in the caveman days the leader was the strongest and best hunter in the tribe. Although that was billions of years ago it seems we as if our society have not caught up with all the technological advances that make it less important to be physically the strongest to earn respect.

      Women also have to be brave enough to ask for more money!

      Just recently actress Jennifer Lawrence admitted she had problems with asking for money because she didn't want to appear "difficult". The Hunger Game movie franchise is a multi-billion dollar grosser with (her) as the main attraction. Sure she would have caught some heat in the comments sections of articles much like Robert Downey Jr. did when it was revealed he was paid $75 million based upon the performance of "Iron Man 3". The movie grossed over $1 Billion at the box office not including DVD sales & rentals along with fees of cable TV viewings. Pay based upon performance should be easy to replicate.

      Unfortunately when it comes to salaries we still operate like car dealerships. Two people can buy the same exact car from a dealer and pay different amounts based upon the buyer's timing and negotiating skills.

    • lawdoctorlee profile image
      Author

      Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD 17 months ago from New York, NY

      Dashingscorpio, thank you so much for taking the time to read this hub and for your comments. Women who shame other women are, in my opinion, insecure of their own womanhood. Shame on them. Mutual respect is key. Women, indeed, not only have to be brave enough to ask for more money, but they need to be brave enough to ask for all that they deserve in and out of the workplace. Advice to women...hone all of your incredible skills.

      May you and yours always be filled with peace, love, and joy.

    • geminitrudy profile image

      geminitrudy 17 months ago

      You inspire me always . Thank you for being brave enough to shout it from the rooftops!

    • lawdoctorlee profile image
      Author

      Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD 17 months ago from New York, NY

      Geminitrudy, thanks, as always, for taking the time to read my hub and for commenting. I always appreciate it. Women like you inspire me to write the way I do. I am just one voice though. Everyone has one. Sending you and your family peace and love.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 17 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Lisa you are a wonderful advocate for women and this hub is so thorough and very empowering. I believe women have had their rights and power of expression suppressed for too long, they have been abused and taken advantage of. In some countries they are treated as lesser beings and abuse at the will of men. This hub should empower women and be read by both women and men so things can be improved . Men and women can never be equal because we are both so different in many ways but our differences should be celebrated and valued equally.

      I feel the world would be a much better place if it was run by women (Angela Merkle the German Vice Chancellor as example) and we would have less wars, terrorism etc. Women's work should be valued equally to men"s and pay rates should echo that. Etc etc. Be proud you are a woman and that you wrote this amazing hub. Well done.

    • lawdoctorlee profile image
      Author

      Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD 17 months ago from New York, NY

      Jodah, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to read this hub and for sharing your thoughts with me. I am humbled that you believe me to be a "wonderful advocate." There are so many advocates, past and future, who have done way more than I in this world. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for them who paved the way. My hope is, indeed, that the women who read this will be empowered and that the men who read this will appreciate the women in their lives. This life is too short to be treated with anything less than the attention, affection, and respect we deserve - and that goes for everyone. May you and yours be blessed always.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 16 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      "We all struggle to fit into a male definition or stereotype of what a woman is rather than defining it for ourselves." Truer words were never written. I love the man I'm married to and my two sons - but - when they talk about how they've worked hard for everything they have or have become, I remind them the one thing they did not have to fight for - because it was just there for them - was the opportunity to work hard to become what they aspired to be. Women and minorities don't find those opportunities just waiting for them.

    • lawdoctorlee profile image
      Author

      Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD 16 months ago from New York, NY

      Kathleen,

      Thank you so much for reading this hub and for your comment. It's good for the men in your life to have the reminder. They often forget. You are right that women and minorities don't have those opportunities just waiting for them. In jest sometimes I tell my army husband, if I was born a man, I would be your general by now. (haha). But early on, my father told me the military was no place for a girl...and I was silly enough to believe him.

      Hope you and your family have a blessed holiday season.

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 15 months ago

      I'm not sure how this caught my eye , But here goes , I'm old fashioned , so to me a woman is the epitome of beauty , I see beauty in ALL women and its actually not hard as a" normal" guy to see one or two ,even small ,features of a woman that instantly make her attractive . I have to believe that all men who look at women a lot , and I admit I do , see even little things that just blow our minds . For me it's , does she have a light or aura about her ? Believe me , she does not have to be photographically beautiful , it can be a walk , her legs or the way that she smiles at everything , it can be a quirky way of dressing , or something so simple as her hands . But I'm wandering here .........women are beautiful , whatever size ,color , personality ...theres something awesome about them all ! Great hub for making us think !

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