An essay on my identity: Being a woman

What if society tells you you're not a real woman? An essay about my identity and being a woman.

A couple of days ago I got inspired to write down how I felt about having a fluid sexuality and being a woman. The post ended up being pretty long, so I split it up in two parts. I already published the essay on my sexuality, and now it’s time for the part about my gender.

The situation with my gender is very different from my sexuality, yet oddly similar. Both as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and as a woman, I’ve experienced the weirdest forms of discrimination, received countless of patronizing comments and have to deal with being different from what society wants me to be like. Cause let’s be honest, I’m not much of a woman by society’s standards, at least not a good one.

It’s not easy being a woman.

People like to think that men and women in Scandinavian countries are all equal, that sexism doesn’t exist and feminism isn’t needed anymore. And it’s true, from a legal perspective, we have it pretty good. But sexism isn’t always clear, old-fashioned discrimination. It isn’t always visible, especially to those who don’t experience it. But that doesn’t make it less hurtful or discouraging for the people who experience it.

It’s not always easy being a woman. You’re supposed to stay strong, because if you cry you’re just creating drama, but not too strong because then you’re a cold bitch. And you can’t wear too much makeup because then you’re fake, but if you don’t wear makeup you’re ugly. You’re supposed to love kids and become a mom, but if you stay at home with your kids you’re stupid or dependent, and if you don’t stay at home with them you’re a bad mom. And not wanting kids seems to be a sin.

If you’re a trans woman, you’re not allowed to use the women’s restrooms, and in the men’s room, you might get beat up. But at the same time, if you’re a biological woman, society won’t be afraid of telling you you’re not a real woman. But don’t dare to be a biological woman identifying as a man either. It’s like we can’t do anything right, and it’s hard.

If you don’t want kids, you’re not a real woman.

I’ve never wanted them, and I know I will never want them. In-between all this uncertainty and self-doubt in my life, the only thing I can say for sure is that I’ll never desire to have kids. It’s one of those things I just know. And that seems to be the hardest thing for people to understand. In fact, I would go even further and say they can’t just understand it, but won’t even accept or respect my choice. And I think that’s disgusting.

The patronizing reactions from people when I tell them I don’t want kids are the worst. They act as if I’m not allowed to have any sense of control or authority over my own body. They tell me I’m too young to make those decisions, that I’ll change my mind as I grow older, that I just haven’t met the right partner yet (my boyfriend must love hearing that), that I will never know true love, and even that I will never truly get to know myself unless I give birth.

Do people really think they’re the ones in charge over my womb?

And even though as long as people have populated the earth, people have changed their minds about a variety of issues and regretted past decisions, it’s not a guarantee that will happen to me. And it’s not anyone else’s responsibility to prevent me from making a mistake that won’t hurt anyone even one bit. They don’t know me, they don’t feel my emotions, they can’t read my thoughts and most definitely cannot read my future. Yet they act as if they do.

Those comments, ignorant attitudes, and backward beliefs often make me hate myself, as a woman. They make me doubt myself, make me feel inferior and make me wish I was a man. My boyfriend never has to deal with those comments. Society is ok with my boyfriend being childless, but can’t accept that I don’t want kids either.

Society thinks I should not have the authority to decide I don’t want to bring a child on this earth, yet they entitle themselves the authority over my body to tell me I should.

And that behavior extends to other issues as well.

Take makeup, for example. I don’t wear makeup because I do not enjoy the way it feels on my skin because I don’t feel confident when wearing it because personally, I enjoy my face more in a natural way and because I can’t be bothered spending time on it.

I think it’s great if other people like expressing themselves through makeup, and everyone should be able to look the way they choose. But makeup is just not my choice for my body. And that too seems to offend people. Whenever I mention I don’t like wearing makeup, I receive a flood of unasked for advice on which makeup brands I will enjoy, how to apply makeup and lipstick colors that match my eyes.

Because people cannot accept I, as a woman, do not enjoy makeup, instead, they’d rather make up a scenario where I’m bad at applying makeup and don’t enjoy badly applied makeup.

And everything we do, we do it to get attention from guys.

Similar situation when I was a kid. While most of the girls in my class were gagging over whoever was the Justin Bieber of that time, I wanted to discuss dinosaurs, fossils, planets and racing cars. But the only kids sharing my interests were guys, and whenever I hung out with them, people assumed I was trying to score a boyfriend and didn’t take me seriously. Because girls can’t like science or cars, but they do like boys.

And the same when I was in my late-teens and started listening to black metal. I enjoyed the music and so did my friends, yet me and the girls of the group were called fake and were apparently only in it for attention. And turning down one guy was enough to be labeled as a fake slut for the rest of your days. So I stopped attending gigs. I figured I’d rather be ‘a fake fan’ as they called it than having to deal with the ridiculous amounts of sexism going around.

Seriously, it’s exhausting.

It feels like everywhere I turn, my gender causes me trouble. I’m not a real woman because I don’t want to have kids, I must be doing something wrong because I don’t like wearing makeup, science and cars are for boys and because I’m into technology, I’m not allowed to have any other ‘feminine’ interests.

Society has all those ideas, those rules, of what a real woman should be like. And if you don’t live by those rules, if you’re not the product of someone else’s ideology, you’re weird, fake or broken. I try to be strong, and I try to be myself, be proud of who I am and break all those rules.

But I’m not gonna lie, it’s exhausting at times. It’s hard not letting weird stares or judgemental comments get to you, especially when you have to deal with them on a daily basis, wherever you go. And it’s especially hard when harmless things that make up such a big part of your personality trigger so much hate, mansplaining and invalidation.

When people are telling me I’ll change my mind about not wanting to have kids, they’re actually telling me they know me better than I know myself. When they tell me I’ll never be happy because I don’t want kids, they’re telling me I’ll live a miserable life, unless I ignore my own feelings and do as they say.

But there are good people too.

But it’s not all bad, luckily. I’m grateful for the supportive people in my life, and for the people showing me it’s ok for a woman to not want kids, or for those proving that it’s ok for men to wear makeup and women not to. I’m happy there are people who respect the identity of others and accept their differences. And I’m happy I have people like that in my life. And I hope there will be a day where everyone can be as accepting as they are.

Because this is my life and my body, not yours. I should have control over it, not you.

#ProtectTransKids

As I mentioned, it’s hard being a woman. But I can’t even begin to imagine what trans women and trans men are going through these days, as the Trump administration is rolling back protection for transgender students. If you can take two minutes out of your time to read my blog, you can spend two more minutes tweeting senators (it’s easy, you don’t even have to write anything yourself). Or, you can donate money to organizations such as Trans Lifeline, Lambda Legal or Human Rights Campaign, who will help protect the rights of not only trans kids, but everyone in the LGBTQ+ community.

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26 Comments

  1. I found this post really insightful and important to talk about these days, I think it’s so tough to have any kind of identity and not feel upset by how some of the world reacts to that! I’m definitely going to share this on Twitter, so many people should read this!

  2. This is a really interesting read! I hate it when it is insinuated that you aren’t a real woman if you don’t want or can’t have children! Really well written post.

    Em

  3. It’s tough being a woman today – you have to be everything to everyone and if not you’re a failure. Good on you for sticking to your beliefs and if others can’t accept them that’s not your problem

  4. I relate to the not wanting kids part all too well. Not one single person that I have said that to has ever just accepted it, or even merely nodded. They ALL say something along the lines of “that will change” or “you’ll regret not having kids” – no, I won’t. There is a plethora of reasons as to why I am not having them, and I know I would regret it if I conformed to society’s expectations when I KNOW what I want. Why do people think they can make our decisions for us?

    http://www.thesmalladventurer.blogspot.com.au/

  5. This is a really well written and thought out post. Being a woman isn’t as easy as some people lead you to believe. I know women that don’t want children and I don’t see anything wrong with that even though I have three of my own.

  6. The questions about having children do die down as you get older but I used to get very forceful in my reply to all those nosy people who kept asking if we wanted kids or regretted not having them. “None of your damn business” was a standard response when I was younger.

  7. I absolutely love the identity series. You are truly an amazing young woman and I love you for doing this all. It has educated me so much and this post has done it again. I’m not ignorant, but some things had escaped my attention and reading this post has helped me reproduce it. Great writing once again buddy!

  8. This blog really opened my eyes to the kind of Issues that you face daily. I was one of those people who thought Scandinavia was accepting and I’m shocked that it’s so tough. Thank you for educating me xx

  9. This is such an insightful post – it is so frustrating that if you don’t wear make up or want children, you’re somehow considered less of a woman

  10. Great post and a really interesting read. It is really hard being a woman especially wit societies expectations.

  11. Such a fantastic post. I’ve always known I wanted children, and I imagine its the same if you always known you havent. No one should be judged either way. It’s your life. xxx

  12. Such an interesting post, thanks so much for the insight to how life is for you and it really resonates what you say about it being hard being a woman and trying (or not trying) to meet all the expectations. Mich x