“You’re just a woman”, so many times I’ve been told. Like the monthly cramps and unexplainable emotional mood swings are not reminders enough. “You’re just a woman” they say, so often I wonder what crimes I committed to be referred to as “just a woman”. What is it about me that raises eyebrows, turns heads and infuriates them? Why do they pull me down when I dare to speak? Why do I have to dare to speak? Why can’t i ‘just speak’? Afterall, I’m human, just like them! But when I do speak, I am reminded my judgement of situations is flawed because my emotions cloud my sense of reasoning. And I have to ask “why is it bad to be emotional? Our emotions afterall serve as evidence of our humanity. They laugh at me when I say this in their midst and remind me again that I do not understand life because I am just a woman.
They blame me for being single. They yell it from the rooftops; ‘your dreams are too big, you are too strong’. Sometimes I just keep walking, but sometimes in my loneliness I wonder if they are right. Am I too strong? Are my dreams too big? Perhaps I should tone it down, perhaps I should not! Every morning, I wake up to the sunrise, and my heart beats with a purpose. Even with my eyes wide awake, my dreams play vividly before me. Why should I be expected to take the back seat and sacrifice my dreams, all for the sake of satisfying their desires for me? Before I am a woman, I am human, and the essence of my existence is to fulfill a purpose. My heart beats just like that of a man’s and my dreams of greatness are just as valid as his. Why then does he expect that my life ought to be without vision or direction until I meet him? Why should he think I only find purpose in taking his coat as he walks through the door, cooking his meals and making sure his bow tie is not crooked as he heads out to work? Is it because I am ‘just a woman’? A soul-less form wandering the earth in search of someone to serve because I am nothing but a woman? Before I got to know them, being strong was all I could be. Before I got to love them, my dreams were what kept me breathing! Why then do they expect me to give it all up because they so? Oh I forget…I’m just a woman.
Marriages are crashing and burning; somehow it is my fault. They blame me for my lack of submission. They blame me for hiring a maid. “Did you expect him not to cheat when you hired a maid?” they ask me with glares and stares. I am dumbfounded and befuddled! Why is the burden just on me? Why am I expected to be responsible for his fidelity? Why am I expected to change him? Why am I expected to work twice as hard to make it work? Do I need him more than he needs me? Is it too much to ask for his respect? “Men will always be men”, they say. “They are allowed to do what they want, and you need to learn the patience to deal with it, afterall you’re ‘just a woman’ and he’s a man”. Irrespective of what he does, I am told to submit. My happiness ceases to exist, and all that matters is to make him happy so he doesn’t walk out the door and leave. So even in my dedicated respect and care for him, I am reminded every now and again that I am not a human being in his eyes, I am not worth considering, I am not worth what he’s worth because I’m just a woman.
I am made to live life like I am guilty of something, I am made to fall into the background and lose my identity in his, because as just a woman, that’s my life’s purpose- to submit, to nurture, and to never ever dare to take steps that may challenge him! But today, I’m thinking ‘why can’t I dream? Why can’t I pursue my dreams? Why should I be weak to satisfy their weaknesses?’ They can preach submission, but they don’t ever preach love! Love that does not abuse or take advantage, love that does not hurt, or break. Love that is deep and true, and sees beyond my human flaws,- this sermon is missing from all the sermons I’ve heard. Instead, they go on and on about submission, like I’m a rebellious slave who might club her master to death. They don’t want me to take initiative, because I’m just a woman.
But they forget about Jael in the bible who slayed Sisera to deliver Israel from King Jabin! What about Deborah, the prophetess who led Israel? Do they ever remember Esther? A woman, just like me who became queen in a foreign land and dared to approach the king even when he did not ask for her? No, they don’t preach about these women because they worry I might get excited! They worry I might be free from their hold over me. I’m just a woman and so it must remain!
But I am not just a woman! Every morning, I wake up with a heartbeat, I feel music in my soul and I let my feet dance at the opportunity of another day. I have the power to birth life into the world. I bleed for days, and I still manage to walk around like a tap isn’t running between my legs. I cry when I’m hurt and I cry when other people are hurt too. I see the flaw in every plan, and every man, but so strong is my heart that taking risks is like breathing. I am strong and ferocious, and they may not like it because their ignorance tells them I am just a woman, not worth half as much as them so they can play ping pong with my feelings as they please. But I trade my ashes for beauty, I trade my tears for strength! I am ebullient in the face of life’s storms, and when I have the flu, I don’t curl up in bed and act like the world has fallen on my chest.
I have a brain and I use it for its purpose, and well, other things too. I dream of being great like the female warriors of the bible, and I dream of having a family too. My dreams are not at war, they are concurrent! They believe I can’t have the best of both worlds because I am just a woman, but the truth is I’m a human with an identity. Just like Eve wasn’t called “woman” all the days of her life, I have a unique identity. My strength might sometimes be terrifying, and my intelligence intimidating, but I am not bothered. I’m not seeking a partner who’s ‘just a man’- so terrified of my strengths, the only way he can feel his masculinity is by breaking me. No. I wish to be found by a man who has an identity too! A man who respects my strengths and loves my weakness, a man who’s so secure in himself, he’s not looking for ‘just a woman’.