A Different Kind of Feminine

Shaked Yaron, an Israeli woman, reflects on International Women’s Day that occurred Tuesday and says that there will be a real reason to celebrate this day when we change our perception of what ‘feminine’ is.

shaked-yaron

I haven’t begun to write and I’m already pissed. Why do I even have to add the word “different” to the title in order to make it clear that I’m not going to write about dresses, infants and stilettos? How come we all sent each other in Whats App yesterday emojis of a dancer, a white woman with long brown hair, a bride with a veil and lipstick, as attachments to the congratulations for “Happy International Women’s Day!”

So really, how come?

This word, “female”, is linked very strongly to a range of characteristics and behaviors. To be a “real woman” you must be gentle and sensitive, even graceful, dress in tight clothes emphasizing the cut of your body, watch a drama series and dream about marriage. Never be aggressive. Do not be a tramp. But also be mysterious. You are a sexy and desirable goddess trapped inside an untouched virgin. She creates and destroys, she’s beautiful and dangerous, difficult to conquer but at the same time wishing for a prince in shining armor to come and take her away into the sunset.

Even in the LGBT community that supposedly fights against gender and sexual conventions, even here, ‘lipstic lesbians’ are “feminine” and ‘butch’ are “masculine”. Why? Since when do the words “woman” and “femininity”necessarily refer to nail polish, the color pink and behavior which, in the absence of any other way to describe it, “feminine,” sort of means “sissy” ?

After all, today we’re in a different era. It’s not like it used to be when women had no voting rights, when exploiting the potential of being a women would be to marry well and have children, when husbands demanded rights and signed their names on artworks created by their wives, when a daughter was the private property of her father and he could do with her as he wished.

No.

Today we’re much more enlightened and progressive than that. Today the phrase “woman- to the kitchen” is just said jokingly, today men can be sensitive, more and more women are replacing “my husband” with “my man,” because what does it mean? “He’s my owner” ? I don’t allow that. Today there is sexual freedom, freedom to love, there are gays and lesbians and bisexuals and transgenders and queers and non-sexuals and the list goes on. Today divorce is permissible and acceptable. And remarriage. And divorce again.

How ironic.

Because with all the progress, one of the most dominant characteristics of women lately, in my opinion, is that we froze. We are so busy comparing today to the distant past, that we cover a lot of evil that exists today in gold. Because “before it was much worse. Look at how much we’ve progressed.”

A world where women must from birth tune in and dream of the day they marry and have children ( “And they lived happily ever after”), a world in which girls at a younger age learn to remove hair off their legs and put on makeup, a world where a girl who doesn’t want to have children is almost a blasphemy, and a world in which the reaction to the words of such a girl would be “Don’t worry, you’ll grow up a little and then you’ll want it” or “You’ll regret it, the clock is ticking.” This is, to me, still a world where we can’t celebrate International Women’s Day without a deep understanding of the great distance we have left to go.

And I won’t even begin to talk about harassments and sexual abuses.

Wake up.

International Women’s Day will truly be the “holiday of women” only when the butch women, the chopped haired, the Tomboy, the transsexuals, the career woman with children, farming women, lesbian women, bisexual women, and anyone who thinks of herself as a woman – will be included in the center of its essence. It will be a holiday when a pink skirt will be a unisex clothing item, and when the first image I would imagine when I think about “feminine woman” won’t necessarily be a long-haired, well-groomed, delicate women, with a dress, a skirt or tight jeans, a baby in her hands and two small children at her side. It will be a holiday when a heterosexual porn film won’t end when the man, who is on top of course, comes to an orgasm, and when a couple of women go hand in hand on the street no one will ask, “Which of you is the man and which is the woman?”

And perhaps in the future such day won’t even exist because the patterns of women, men, masculinity and femininity will no longer exist and there will be a new society with no gender borders.

Personally, I’m crazy about dresses and dreamed from the age of two that I’d be married. (To my grandmother’s great relief). But although it has certainly been imprinted in me, I wonder sometimes if it’s really me who wants this, or maybe someone else once drilled a hole inside me. A hole that is deep enough for foundations of building, where this kind of page is planted, that lists exactly how to be “feminine.” What am I supposed to want and when? Or maybe the hole was just left open and whenever a teacher said a few sentences, my classmates put in a few ideas, someone at work gave me a look that made it clear I should come to work with a proper blouse and makeup. The hole was filled and I fulfilled all the requirements.

Because I’m a woman, and I should like dresses and love children – that’s when people would love me. Yet occasionally, thoughts are sneaking in – Is this really who I am?

Happy International Women’s Day!