There was really that time when I liked the demure, shy, hard to get, quintessential girl that is so often described as the center of attention of many men in a novel.
The idea of being that girl is alluring. She’s really just a more homegrown version of a princess. Gets by on her looks, charms people with her coyness and is overall the prize of being a well-educated man with some money to spare. Some used to call such girls “trophy wives” who after giving birth to some kids became successful society women. Their lives had meaning in raising kids, running a home, serving their husbands. They usually started a charity or two, sat at board meetings for the local school, ventured into business partnerships that were usually abandoned for this thing or that, received money from a trust fund after husband died and generally lived a life that they had envisioned and died a death that most people do.
But the turn of the twentieth century did see a lot of smashing of the standards and for good reason. Feminism came full circle and feminists re-examined their own bias towards the definition of fulfillment. They redirected focus towards empowerment. Empowerment became a diverse concept. It became individual. It acquired its own army. It evolved into something that quickly became more popular than the “flapper culture”. Empowerment was a program that most women could get with.
Slowly, a trophy wife was replaced by a “life partner”. “Girl power” became an archaic word and almost condescending to describe “female empowerment”. Traditionally the word “girl” has been used in such a derogatory way that many self-respecting women have bad memories attached to the word. We tried to lacquer it with some qualifiers like “girl squad”, “girl power” and “girls can do anything” but it didn’t gain much momentum once it started to grate on the nerves of the very women whom it was used to describe once.
“Women” became the new cool word. It became the single most defining word of all females of any age group. The age old attachment of this word to a certain “age” disappeared. It became more universal than “girl” ever was. It also unified women.
But not all women embrace what womanhood is. We’ve come far but not all the way. There is a lot that feminism fights for but most battles are directed towards helping women realize their own worth. That has been the biggest struggle.
And I don’t think embracing your womanhood is easy. It defies so much cultural conditioning that it’s a whole process of rebirth. Just the culture of unapologetic practice of our ideas is a big shift from how women have been raised over centuries.
A few friends of mine run a little trend every Wednesday of women crushes. These are just ordinary women, doing ordinary things through extraordinary behaviors. Some characteristics that I have found almost generally in them are,
1. The practice of non-apology. Anyone’s inconvenience with us is their problem. As long as our choice doesn’t harm someone, we are within right to practice it and own it proudly.
2. How I look and sound is secondary. How I act and think is primary. If there is criticism about how I can improve my actions and refine my thinking then I can engage. Commentary on my looks is useless to me.
3. Love can come to me or I can go to love. I can’t wait for that man to propose or ask me out. I can do it too and set the tone for this relationship. I refuse to play a guessing game of uncertainty and heartbreak.
4. Education is my right. What I do with it afterwards is my choice. I can’t be told to not pursue it. Similarly, I can’t be told what to do with it.
5. Sex is something I choose to give. I can’t be forced or coerced into sexual relationships.
6. My allegiance to my family doesn’t change just because I have new people in my life. They were the most important people for decades before my significant other and kids took their place. That probably displaces them to the second most important people but it doesn’t displace them to the bottom of the barrel. They probably still are the most important people. I add to the list of important people. It’s not a numbered list. It’s a list in my heart.
7. Having a husband is great for some. It’s binding and suffocating for many. I know marriage is a choice. Staying married is a choice. Divorce is a choice. Having kids is a choice. I am pro choice. Just because you say you’re pro life doesn’t mean I’m anti-life. I’m pro life and pro choice. You can be both too and have your own ideas about them. We don’t have to shape our ideas according to governmental policies.
8. I can make my money or not. But if I’m taking care of a home and kids I am my significant other’s financial partner. Don’t discount me. I own your money and have claim to it.
9. I’m not a runaway bride that needs to be monitored and supervised closely. I came to you with conviction and commitment. Trust me! My womanhood can’t be wooed with insecurity.
10. And lastly, embrace my womanhood too. Just because it might not apply to you doesn’t mean it’s not a part of you. The reasons for why I do certain things the way I do them should be important to you. I’m many women’s crush because of my womanhood. If you fail to get it, then you fail to get the biggest part of me.
So I have been crushing on women who have the above slogans. It’s hard to be on their side, actually. In a world where a woman is still shamed of crying and losing control and being emotional, it’s hard to be on their side. But with time I’ve learned that that’s the biggest point.
My woman crush isn’t living her life like a man. She isn’t styling it after a man. She knows and acknowledges that her problem solving is inherently unique. Her reaction is by default emotional and more compassionate. Her way of life is fashioned after love, empathy and gratitude. So she’s not trying to be emotionally or functionally butch. All she is trying to be is her own person without a definition of what that should be like. That’s why she’s the woman crush of many.