This quote by Simone de Beauvoir, a French writer, is one of my personal favourites. This is my take on it.
“It’s hard being a woman”, is something I’ve thought to myself many a times. The reasons behind such a thought is painfully similar to de beauvoir’s philosophy reflected in this statement. A woman is truly born when she conforms to the definitions of the patriarchal society that surrounds her.
Whatever we become; it happens because of the choices we make. However, one becomes a woman because of the choices made by men. Hence, her freedom is completely ambiguous and gets defined as an extension of men.
She lacks an identity until its granted to her.
She is only beautiful until she is young, white and thin.
She is the embodiment of grace and brains when she is bound to the house and is permitted to handle the money that the man of the house earns.
She has sexual appeal only when it pleases the male gaze.
She is only acceptable when her attitude towards her body and effeminacy is oppressive, where she makes sacrifices so that she may please the patriarchs around her.
The three transitory phases in her life- puberty, pregnancy and menopause, change her perspective about herself making her insecure than ever, scrutinised under the male gaze.
She feels disadvantaged for the body she is born in since that is what the objective standards of her society has taught her.
What defines her as a woman is hidden beneath the shadow of a fascist cesspool of cosmetic companies and fashion industrythat provide a roadmap on how to look; what to wear; how to act; and how to pose.
Her body’s freedom is obscured for she will always be a mere object to be glorified by the society.
She is a woman only when the pleasures of the flesh are traumatic to her, scarring her without much gratification while the male enjoys all that is sexual.
She is sinful if she seeks pleasure but pure when she avoids it.
She lacks understanding of her own body only because she never got the “birds and the bees” speech from her parents, for that was reserved for the boy, after all it’s the boy who becomes a man while she becomes a woman only when society sees fit.
The only time she feels herself is when away from the arms of her oppressors who ironically embarrass her for bleeding but worship her in temples and when she is the bringer of new life.
She is determined a woman when others decide to wed her toa stranger where the cycle of oppression reignites, ultimately transforming her daughter into a woman.
So, a woman becomes one, when she follows these guidelines prescribed by her patriarchal society. She is only a WOMAN when she is an object to a man. She has no power to freely accept who she is because she is too busy proving to everyone around her that she fits in, that she is indeed, a woman.
Every emotion suppressed, every passion squashed, every insult digested, and every sweat wasted in proving her worth, is what makes her a woman. That’s why a female isn’t born a woman, she becomes one.