A couple weeks ago in group discussion, a bunch of us girls broached the question: “How do you describe authentic womanhood to someone in a way that doesn’t use religion as the context?”
It’s a valid question for a posse of young adults in a culture where the average girl is seeking the truth but is not open yet to hearing it in terms of “God-creating-it-that-way” or “this-part-of-the-Faith-shows-us-that.”
We found the question a difficult topic to describe concretely, since there are so many ways to describe womanhood and so few succinct phrases to tie it all together. Then a friend proffered a Jason Evert quote. “Men have power in what they do. Women have power in who they are.”
Power became the key phrase. Women have power of presence by entering a room. Women have power by the biological beauty of their bodies. Women have power by their internal female gifts that manifest themselves in virtues like compassion, nurturing, and intuition. Such power, however, is a dangerous reality that can be both used and abused. It is particularly being abused today in sexist, skewed ways—Beyonce and Hilary Clinton suffice as starting examples. That, however, is not the goal of authentic femininity. How then do we positively channel such womanly power?
Giving life became the key counterpart phrase. Even biologically, woman is made to give life. She does not create it on her own, but she accepts the seed of a man, carries the fetus for nine months, and brings forth a new child. Everything one of us women touches either shrivels up and dies (aka my recent lack of a green thumb in the potted herbs area) or springs into bloom (aka fostering vulnerability in recent relationships).
As women we have unimaginable power. The questions we should be asking ourselves and each other are this:
- Am I bringing life into the world around me? Or am I bringing life to myself and death to the things I touch around me?
- Am I nurturing others? Or am I sucking the life out of everything in my grasp by a selfish desire to manipulate for my own benefit?
A woman who knows she is beautiful is called—not to be prideful but to be revolutionary in her selfless gift. That is the woman I want to be. How about you?