What defines a woman?

An open letter to women and a rebuttal to Emilee Danielson

Emilee, your story is simply one single thread in a tapestry of women. It is not the whole cloth. Living for almost 50 years does not give you a magical ability to tell other women they’re wrong about themselves; all it does is allow you to identify yourself.

We are women from the moment we first heard the word girl and felt it click inside us… whether the word was aimed at us or not. We are a women from the moment we looked into a mirror and recognized the girl within… whether we could see her face or not.

A woman isn’t defined by breasts. You’re a woman whether you’re flat or have breasts that go on for days. Neither is it defined by the ability to carry an infant to term. It most certainly isn’t defined by being a martyr.

Being a woman isn’t defined by horrendous cramps or your ability to fake it through them. It isn’t defined by the size of the baby or the amount of medication you received. You’re still a woman and a mother if you adopted your child or if your partner gave birth. You’re still a woman if you’re child-free.

Emilee, you are a privileged woman in the United States. Unlike friends of mine, you have never been chased down dark streets by strangers while having slurs shouted at you simply for daring to be yourself. You have never had store clerks look you in the eye and misgender you repeatedly and on purpose because they don’t like that you exist. You have never looked at yourself in the mirror and wished you were dead when faced with the stranger staring back. You have children but you don’t have my child. You don’t stand beside your child and have strangers stare… turning so they can continue to stare as you walk past. You worry about strange men on the side of the road while being blissfully unaware of the dangers that trans women face every single day. Unaware that their risks of violence and death from strange men are staggeringly higher than yours.

No, Emilee there is more to being a woman than you could ever experience or even imagine. I find your claim to know and speak of womanhood on behalf of us all to be insulting. A real woman is defined, not by beauty or dirt under her nails, but by herself.

Ms Jenner is a woman, I am a woman, and you are a woman. Tapestries are nothing if every thread is identical. We need our differences in order to make life vibrant.

15 thoughts on “What defines a woman?

  1. Thank you for this beautifully written, thoughtful post. According to Emilee I’m not much of a woman 😦

    What a sad world we live in when Emilee Danielson has over 60,000 ‘likes’ for such a hateful post. I found it depressing to read her views, but even more depressing to see so many agreeing with her.

  2. Can I add another bit to what you said, Michelle?

    “A real woman is one who in spite of the stretch marks, age spots, dirt under her nails and tired eyes, and even with 1/2 plastic photoshopped supermodels as her competition, she has carried herself in such a way that her family, husband, and children, see her real beauty and find her far more valuable than rubies or diamonds and they rise up and call her blessed. ”

    So, this means that single women, women who have female partners, and women without children aren’t “real women”.
    Also a “real woman” is defined here by OTHER PEOPLE seeing her “real beauty” which seems a really problematic definition. (She does also say these others “find her … valuable” which we can hope is for some qualities other than just beauty.)

    This also, very oddly, eliminates from “real womanhood” women who do NOT have stretch marks, or do NOT have age spots, etc. What about 24 year old women, they aren’t “real” now either? What about older women who don’t have stretch marks? Also what about women with stretch marks and age spots who don’t “carry” themselves in such a particular way? I mean, if I’ve got stretch marks and age spots and I’m depressed and/or ashamed of it, then, in addition to those problems, now I’m also “not a real woman”.

    I forgot the dirt under nails part. Some women don’t actually garden and dig in the dirt.

    And honestly, how many women have a family AND husband AND children who will rise up and call her blessed.

    I’d say there are damned few “real women” in this world of ours, and if that is what being “a real woman” is I’m going to be in good company, including the wonderful sisterly company of Caitlyn Jenner, who I welcome to share womanhood with me.

  3. I agree. You can’t just tell people there’s a right and wrong way to be themselves. The only things there are right and wrong ways to be are very few, and I can’t even think of them right now…too tired to.

    What is this post you’re talking about, though? I haven’t seen it, and I haven’t been able to find it.

  4. Pingback: What does a woman look like? | Because I'm Fabulous

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