I remember the day when my mum said to our neighbour that I got my first period. I was ashamed and upset that she told her my secret. My mum’s girlfriend replied: ”So now, you are a woman!” as if the blood on my underwear should make me proud. I did not understand what ”being a woman” truly means and what it in fact implies for my life and the question has haunted me since then.
I have then heard the word on multiple occasions, some of them now bring cynical smile to my face – ”You need to take care of yourself because you are a woman.” or when I let my hair grow long ”Finally, you look like a woman.” or from my parents ”This is woman’s work so you should know how to do it…if you clean like this, nobody would marry you!” In many cultures women are expected to be gentle, caring and kinder than man. If taken to extreme, it is the stereotypical expectations that lie at the bedrock of gender inequalities with all its bloody consequences.
But in different circles, the idea of a womanhood has another underlying tone – the one connected with unity, sisterhood, empathy and sharing. The word ”woman” is often pronounced with confidence and eyes shining with determination, soft smile with little wrinkles bringing memories of past achievements and loved ones. Sometimes when pronounced, the word ”woman” carries a mythical beauty seemingly pointing to deep and strong roots of a flower proudly offering its life energy to the sun.
When women in different cultures, time periods, life stages and situations differ as much as they do, does being a ”woman” after all mean anything? Besides our bodily structures, is there something what would be given to all of us from the NATURE? Or does the concept of a ”woman” simply describe a human with female sexual reproductive organs struggling through daily inequalites of a patriarchal society? What is it on ” a woman” that is made by a society and what (if anything) is made by the NATURE? Is there anything what would unite us all?
Gender theories have an obvious answer to that. The category hides way too many inequalities and restrictions to be maintained. But theories sometimes pale in the light of a lived experience. We have all been through situations when what stand for intellectually loses all relevance as it offers no solutions and no help.
Then, we thought, in order to search for the answer to those questions, we shall listen to the stories and answers of different women before we assert one universal answer; we shall understand what gender means for different creatures before we naively assume what nature is; and we shall understand the possibility of a pluralistic answer that always requests one to think under different context.
This project searches for ”a women” inside women – stay with us and share with us! Send us your photo and your answer!