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The Experience of Being a Woman

I have always wanted to be the woman who doesn’t feel the need to talk about women’s issues.

I have always wanted to be the woman in business whom people describe as an astute leader and force to be reckoned with without ever being called a “woman in business.”

I have always wanted to be the woman entrepreneur who doesn’t seek government subsidies.

I have always wanted to be the woman who doesn’t believe in the glass ceiling.

I have always wanted to be the woman who knows when to be assertive and when to be aggressive.

I have always wanted to be the woman who never cries at work.

I have always wanted to be the woman who shrugs it off when someone calls her a girl.

I have always wanted to be the woman who could be the only woman in the room without feeling like the only woman in the room.

I have always wanted to be the woman who could go out drinking with the guys without being one of the guys.

I have always wanted to be the woman who could be open with men without “giving the wrong impression.”

I have always wanted to be the woman who could graciously accept a man’s chivalry without feeling guilty for it.

I have always wanted to be the woman who can pay for the date without being seen as intimidating or emasculating.

I have always wanted to be the woman who can be friends with a married man and have it really be about friendship.

I have always wanted to be the woman who other women admire and respect and trust.

I have always wanted to be the woman who doesn’t use her sexuality to get what she wants.

I have always wanted to be the woman who doesn’t hesitate to give out her phone number or address out of fear of attracting unwanted attention.

I have always wanted to be the woman who believes that nowhere is “unsafe” for her that isn’t also so for a man.

I have always wanted to be the woman who doesn’t really care what people think of her.

I have always wanted to be the woman who doesn’t think about how things would be different if she were a man.

And I am. And I’m not.

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  • http://blog.spontaneouspublicity.com Luke Foust

    Very interesting post.

    I especially like “I have always wanted to be the woman who could be the only woman in the room without feeling like the only woman in the room.”

    Do you think that all of these things are possible?

  • http://livlab.com Livia Labate

    Damn it if that’s not hard Whitney. I feel very strongly about many of the things you’ve stated. I gotta say that living in the US has made me question my ability to believe in several of this more than anywhere else I’ve lived.

    It’s hard to just be when you have to be a woman.

  • suki

    Amen sister! this is the one I reallly reallly wish weren’t true.

    “I have always wanted to be the woman who believes that nowhere is “unsafe” for her that isn’t also so for a man. “

  • http://marthmihaly.wordpress.com Martha

    I’m glad to read this Whitney. I’ve always struggled with the assumptions that were made of me because of having more males friends than female, and have ALWAYS rejected that there is a gender bias…even though I know there is one.

    Cudos, it’s good to see such a young woman with such wise words.

    We can become a tribe.

    I am. I am not.

  • http://www.virginbrain.com richard

    Well, we can say the same about being gay, colored, muslim etc. It seems that in this politically correct society, we are underlining the differences in a negative way. Whereas the opposite should be happening.
    Because the US culture politics act like there are no differences, whereas there are, you get these schizophrenic outcomes. Men and women should be treated equally, so if women are not treated equal they can complain about that. That is not natural. Being a woman should be natural and you should not have to be afraid of being a woman or using the powers that come with that.
    People are not similar, and they should not try to be. You should be yourself, and that is not becoming some”thing” without any characteristics or features. You should celebrate those. Please be a woman.

  • Lauren

    Richard’s right on one count, it’s not just women who deal with these issues. Letting nature take it’s course, however… No. That’s not a wise decision. Would women be allowed to vote right now if they hadn’t fought against what seemed “natural?”

    You could call genocide natural too. That’s just human nature taking its course, right?

    The great thing about being human is that we are able to transcend base behaviors, to become better people. And those who can’t evolve with the rest of society can (and should) be held to higher behavioral expectations.

    Thanks for a great post, Whitney.

    • http://infokusfotos.com Reza

      I landed on this page, because I was researching for a photo shoot and a video installation project I am working on about experiences. What struck me as wonderful was that the post at a basic level talks about a shared human experience. The ever present dichotomy of me and myself. As humans we only see reflections of ourselves through our conscience mind and that self image flutters with the reality that we have learned / taught; which, in a sense gives rise to the subconscious. That fluttering for me is the essence of being a human as our perception of self , I and the world creates me. The human being that longs to be a certain way or not to be. The self awareness version of hide and seek. And I am. And I am not. However, it is not that easy. There is the society, the collective that hammers in neurosis where we experience a dissociation with ourselves. We are taught to create a bubble and live in it. We are taught to be scared of silence, which gives us opportunity to listen to ourselves. We are taught to define goals and possessions with no real definitions. Like the toothpaste ad that will bring eternal happiness to our lives another term with no definition. It is toothpaste after all how deep can it go. We need the silence to stand back and look at the underlying pattern. To discover ourselves. To be.

  • Allie

    I have to say, I absolutely love this. It is the perfect summation of what it means to be a modern woman. I am a female filmmaker and I was looking for some inspiration to begin a short film about women and the female gaze and this was exactly what I was looking for.

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