Black Women Writers @ Southwestern University

An English / Feminist Studies / Race & Ethnicity Studies Course Blog

What it Means to be a Women

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Being a Feminist Studies major I discuss women a lot in classes. I discuss the history and struggle of women as well as triumphs and goals. However, something that I have noticed from my classes and the readings in each of them is the idea that certain women are to behave certain ways. Perhaps that is a struggle of being a women, knowing that a path is already set for you, and you have a shell or form to inhabit in order to be successful. However, these forms of women are not the same for all women. The idea of what a women should be in Jordan and what a women should be like in the U.S.A. is very different. Recently in my Women, Gender and Culture course we watched a documentary about women of Islam, and how they are expected to act and perform their gender. There are very specific guidelines and requirements that many western women would consider to be oppressive however, isn’t there similar guidelines in the states? Perhaps there aren’t as harsh punishments for not inhabiting or performing the female gender, but there are similarities. For example women the states are expected to skinny and weigh 120 pounds, and while there are not apparent punishments for this, the repercussions are harsh. Women who do not look like Victoria’s Secret super models are left feeling bad about themselves, and are given the pressure of making themselves look as close to models as possible if they want to get a man. Chaurisse illustrates this point by wanting to be a “silver girl” spending so much time at her mothers beauty shop. “Getting a man” is another pressure put on women in the states. Going more in depth, there are different pressure for different women. Like we talked about in class black women are faced with having to spend thousands of dollars on weaves and hair relaxers in order to fit into the norm set for them. And while they have the choice of not spending this money, and leaving their natural, the pressure to do so is on because “relaxed” hair is considered to prettier and look more natural. But look more natural to whom? What would happen if these women didn’t relax their hair? They would be deemed unprofessional which would make it harder for them to find work, or be taken seriously. The women who do not fall into gender norms set for them are brave women, and trailblazers at that.


One thought on “What it Means to be a Women

  1. Yes! I agree. Gender roles are sadly everywhere. At work the old men always give me strange looks when I grab their 5 gallon water bottles and take them to the car. I just reply, “I got it”. In the tone of– I’m freaking capable dude, I’m a WOMAN. It always frustrates me, but I just try to take harness some of that American privilege for being a woman (unlike in other harsher countries) and combat the gender binaries to bring equality!

    Also, today I was watching the Born This Way video and while it’s empowering for LGBT and confident women, it doesn’t stick up for a healthy image. First thing everyone said was, “OMG her bodyyyyy.” I looked up and thought, she looks emaciated. Her weight wasn’t the issue though. It’s the brain wash. Because she’s a celebrity and a role model and she’s SKINNY, we should all look like that too, to be able to feel confident like she does. I work out because I want to be healthy and fit, not so I can feel better about my image. It’s too bad there aren’t more role models sporting that look instead.

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