As a person who spends an unseemly amount of time online, I keep coming across the phrase “real woman” . Men say they want to be in a relationship with real women, women say that “sluts” and “airheads” tarnish the name of real women who respect themselves. Like having casual sex or multiple partners, cancels out your womanhood. Like only monogamous, alluring, supremely confident females have the right to call themselves women.
We’re so quick to dismiss, to turn our faces when confronted with women who don’t uphold the values of the great, real woman. And I say we because I’ve felt that desire to cut all ties, to say ‘that person saying stupid things does not represent me’. But what gives us the right to define womanhood when we can’t even define ourselves? What makes us think we can label anyone as fake, as less, as non-womanly .
That Real Woman who is poised and affectionate and “values herself too much to sleep around” isn’t real at all. She’s the person we’ve all been taught we should be. The fake idol that keeps us up at night and makes us feel ashamed when we laugh too loudly and snort, when we’ve had more than a socially acceptable number of sexual partners (whatever that means). She’s a body made of gossamer and lies that we’ve tried to make our truth only to find we don’t quite bend that way.
We can’t be her. And we complain about the ones who seem to have become here because who are they to achieve something better than ourselves. Because we can’t see how that isn’t necessarily better through the haze of our self-hatred. Then we turn up our noses at the rest because at least we’re trying and surely that makes us better. Even though we have nothing to define “better” by. And in the end we’re all screwed, hating ourselves and each other in a scramble to uphold ideas we’re not sure we should be believing in anyway.
So, we tell ourselves to be better. We tell ourselves that we’re all real. We stop calling women sluts. We develop strength of character and look for the best in people, rather than the worst. We persevere in our efforts and pinch ourselves every once in a while to make sure we’re not a dream…