What Does It Mean To Be A Woman?
Eman Khalid

When I was a child, I hated being a woman. As a twelve-year-old, I believed that women were created as weak beings with soft bodies that could easily crumble against the weight and power of a man. I hated the way I felt the need to wear a jacket in my PE class in sixth grade because I hit puberty earlier than the girls my age, which made me taller and bulkier. My shyness overcame my desire to play basketball with my classmates.


My high school crushes, and male friends rarely gave their time and attention to women who did not fit into the beauty standard of modern society. That’s when realization dawned upon me like an epiphany, that you only matter as a woman if you possess eyes as blue as the ocean, skin as white as the first snow of December, lips as soft as cotton, a body as chiseled as a Greek sculpture and a voice as smooth as silk. Women like me, with thick English accents that intertwined with our mother tongues, women with skin as brown as the color of Earth, and women who would rather speak the words of their heart instead of swallowing their tongues, were unlovable and fell into the category of “unattractive.” I hated being a woman, because our worth was determined by the clothes we wore and the size of our bodies, whether it was a job interview, a relationship, or a casual conversation. The way we were treated was fairly proportional to how attractive we looked. 

As a young woman, I often wondered why men desired the same women they called “whores.” I often wondered why men found pleasure and happiness in hitting the woman whom they’ve exchanged vows with, women they’ve walked down the aisle with, women they’ve prayed to be with, women they’ve made children with, and women who sacrificed their entire lives to live with these men. As a young woman, I often wondered why women bore abuse at the hands of their husbands, and why they can’t work hard to stand on their own two feet and become financially independent? 


It’s true when they say that the most cruel teacher to a human being is time. Time taught me that not every woman is privileged enough to attain education or progress in her professional career. It taught me that not every woman has the capability to leave behind a man who pays her bills, feeds her three meals a day, and financially supports her children. She can’t leave him, even if he hits her, even if he verbally abuses her, even if he sleeps with other women. If she leaves him, where will she go? What work will she do? Who will take her in? Time taught me that not every woman can afford the luxury to live a life of her own choice. Time taught me that life is fair, because it’s unfair to everyone. 

As a young woman, I wondered why women worked jobs that paid them less than their male counterparts. I never understood women who worked in toxic environments where they were made to feel uncomfortable by their male managers, or male team members, sometimes through an inappropriate comment, a touch on her arm, and brushing a finger against her cheek. I questioned women who still worked at a place where they felt anything but welcomed. With the passing seasons of time, I learnt that these women work to provide for their families because they had no other choice. They can either choose to depend on a man who physically abuses them, or they can work at a company to provide for themselves and their children without having to go to sleep with a bruised body and an aching heart. 


When I was young, I hated being a woman. I often questioned God’s choices on days when I felt unsafe walking on a closed street past midnight and when my nights got lonelier. However, the age of 22 taught me that being a woman is a privilege. Who else has the capability of nurturing an entire being in her belly for nine months and bear the pain of childbirth only to come out stronger than ever? Women possess the ability to forgive, the ability to nurture another man, the ability to build strong foundations of a household, and earn a livelihood to build a financially strong life for herself and her loved ones. Women possess the ability to love someone without limits, and boundaries. A woman’s body is resilient, but her soul is a work of poetry woven by the magical wisdom of the Almighty. The deeper you love her, the more she’ll be ready to give up everything and start a new life with you. When I was young, I hated being a woman. However, the passing seasons of time have taught me that being a woman is my gift from God, and if I could meet my younger-self one day, the only thing I’d tell her is to never be ashamed of who she was, or what she looked like. I’d tell her to embrace her femininity, have goals in life, and work hard to achieve them. I’d tell her to be proud of who she was, and face the challenges life throws her way with resilience, because she is stronger than she seems, braver than she knows, and kinder than the world perceives her to be. I’d tell her that she is a fighter, she is a work of art, a prose from poetry, and a beautifully magnificent creature. I’d tell her to be proud of herself, because she is a woman, and that in itself is a privilege for you and many other women around the globe.