I ask myself what it is to be a woman? A question I had rarely considered until recently. A question provoked by societal disparities, injustices, differences, changes, by both silent and loud revolutions.
I look at myself in the mirror and I see the remnants of my ancestors, the women who came before me, who live in me, who are inbuilt in my DNA.
Their struggles passed down through generations. Their strength flows through my bloodstream. Their voices echo in my ancestral mind. My sub conscious history.
I ask myself what it is to be a woman. I, for a long time avoided the notion of femininity, that I could be feminine – being 14 when I came out I thought that’s who I had to be; Masculine, boyish, tough, resilient – non-female.
It worked. I tuned myself to be one of the boys. Short hair, boy clothes. I walked like a boy, I talked like a boy. I joined in conversations that degraded other women because I wanted to be something other than what society had said I should be.
I didn’t want to have the emotional intelligence that most of the women in my life had. I didn’t want to carry the fear that most women have had to carry. I didn’t want to be seen as weak, easy to control; a victim.
Of course the weakness was in me. Beyond this facade the weakness was always present. Each moment I went against myself, each time I joined in on a degrading joke, each time I humoured a man with bad intentions so I could avoid confrontation. Being a boy seemed easier, more comfortable, secure, safer.
It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that my eyes and heart began to open. I became more myself, mostly due to listening, always listening.
I needed to hear the struggles, the traumas, the strengths and celebrations of every woman, sister and mother in my life. I needed to listen before I could contribute. Before I could believe that my self was enough to be a part of this immensely beautiful reality.
In belief of this followed a multitude of spiritual awakenings, of connections that extend beyond this dimension. In belief of this allowed me to find my voice to speak out against injustices, to embrace my womanhood and not be afraid that someone could damage it or take it away from me.
So I ask myself today, as I’ve travelled through the thickness of my journey and as I’ve witnessed the journey of others in my path, what it is to be a woman?
Such a question is too great to answer, too powerful for words. What it is, is a feeling, a sense, an intuition.
– Bri Reddy