Being a woman isn’t just a cultural identity: A new take on self-love

Being a woman is about understanding and justifying who you are; and then trying to figure out how to be a “woman” at the same time. Defining the term and existence of “women” and “woman” is a very difficult thing to struggle with.

How do you become a strong woman? And, is it possible to be feminine and strong at the same time?  More specifically, can you be a “feminist” (with all those horrible cultural connotations of femme-Nazis) and still love your vagina? Can you still value all those feminine characteristics and be independent? And if you think you cannot fit into one box, when do you realize that you don’t have to, or that the box needs to be changed?

It’s hard to communicate with an entire society of people who wish to identify in boxes. Even those who physically seek to challenge “the box” image through their appearance are appealing to some anti-consumerist/social/box tendency which has been made commercial, social, and mainstream. Thinking in terms of people, and then in sub-categories: as women, male, neither, other, a little of both… it gets confusing.

Gender is an assigned character role that society creates. In America, we have constructed two gender categories– and believe me, this does not happen everywhere. This construction of two major gender roles is not an absolute concept. But here, we seem to think it is. That’s why you can either like men, like women, both, or nothing at all. It’s hard to explain that you may just “like” people based upon their personality or their identity.

I believe that we only create classifications of people (such as gender) as a way to navigate the world around us. It helps us make decisions for our survival and safety: for example, I may not enter a dark parking garage if an unknown male is in sight and I’m alone. But I may enter if I see an unknown woman. I’m not prejudice, but I know how to keep myself safe. It’s part of being me, and being a woman. Somehow, I feel so much safer around women (physically, not socially) than I do around men. I have this crazy thought that I’m less likely to get raped by a woman; at the same time, if you put me in a social situation with an unknown woman, I may be just as afraid as walking into a dimly-lit parking garage with a strange man.

Women in our society are at odds; we form cadres of other women we would like to trust, and it seems anyone outside of this family we’ve created is, somehow, an enemy. We compete with each other, in a world and media-defined male-dominated society where we should actually be watching each other’s backs. We can support each other instead of competing. I’ll put it out there right now: I’m not trying to judge you or steal your boyfriend or be condescending to you or belittle your life, women. Please, do the same for me.
I agree with Aristotle: We, as human beings– male or female or in-between or neither or other– are social creatures. We live in society because we choose to. It is almost impossible to live and not coexist with other humans– although some people have done this. Some people would rather commune with nature or with other animals, but these people still seek to be communal in some way; with something. We grow up and leave our homes (some of us, anyway) and we create new families. We create extensions of ourselves and our roots. We would like to be surrounded by more of us; sociology helps explain why we are attracted to, usually, more of the same people. We would like to feel comfortable and understood, so we surround ourselves with people we feel we understand and who we would expect to understand us.
Human beings like to live in interaction.

However, I do not believe that human beings are engineered to date like we do now. I believe that this almost sick desire and obsession with dating (in our culture) has more to do with the void and lack of community that humans crave in their everyday lives. It is what creates competitive bullshit among women and turns us against each other. Dating, as it stands now, is just a craving for intimacy. Intimate touch.
When else, besides when you cuddle with a significant other, do you actually feel other people? When do you feel a loving touch, besides when your family comforts you?

We all brush past people when we walk, we talk to people at the bank, and we help our coworkers out. But for so many of us, all of that interaction is unintended, unwanted, and it is with strangers. We crave attentive touch from all sources; but our society has funneled that into romantic touch, lust, and “sin”.
I do not believe that every human being has the same, shall we call it, “touch threshold”. Some people need less, some need more. Some people– you may know a few of this kind– are constantly dating; not even healing from the last one before the new one is in the picture. And they must be at the side of the one they date at all times. They may be clingy, or they may just overly-enjoy mass amounts of sex. Sometimes, these effects are not at all unusual. But the cycle of “dating” and of neediness is perpetuated through people who do not wish to heal but to simply replace that touch that they need so badly.

I am glad, no– I am ecstatic that I am a woman who can go out and buy a dildo. I can buy anal beads, clit-diddlers, porn, bad porn, hell: I can even buy cream that will arouse me so I don’t have to try to stimulate myself in any other way. I am very happy and very, very glad that I can do these things and that other women have the power and rights to buy and use almost anything that they want to satisfy their sexual desires. I am pleased beyond all belief to sell these items to women so that they can use them. Self-love is, in its many forms, one of the most important things we, as women, can do for ourselves. We must love ourselves first, for whatever we are, however we are and in what ways that we do, before we can expect others to love us.

We do not just have to love ourselves via masturbation; we can appreciate our beauty, our skin; admire our wit and wisdom and reflect upon our choices and how they create us. We can love ourselves by sleeping in when we need to and taking a moment to appreciate ourselves. We can treat ourselves. We can, as women– ALL OF US– can learn to love ourselves.

In our communities, we must start to appreciate and love one another just as we are. I always feel at home in the gay community at my college or in Boise because I love myself— and I’ll be damned if I can find a single lesbian who is not at least at ease with herself (for a while I was convinced myself it was because they are sooooooo completely at home with their vagina and the beauty of their vagina. Perhaps that is part of it). Yet I’ve met so many heterosexual women whom I cannot stand; and I believe this stems from them not knowing what the fuck to do with themselves. Women who obsessively date or always need a problem to latch onto; women who tear other women down when really, it was women in this country who fought for our rights to even be heard. It is your right, as a woman, to tear another woman down. But you must remember that it is only your right to tear another woman down because long ago, in a time that you may not care about or know about, some woman whom you may not have liked very much at all, was willing to fight for your right to be catty to another free woman.

And that’s what we are: Free women. We made ourselves this way. We worked hard for it. Your mother worked hard for it; your grandmother and aunts and long-dead relatives fought in their lifetimes so that we could be free women. To (badly) paraphrase Igna Musico from her novel Cunt, we must stop being cunt-hating women; we must be cunt-lovin’ women. And that means all cunts, not just ours. But ours is a good base from which to start.

So… love your cunt. Love your vagina. Love yourself. Be at least comfortable with yourself and your anatomy. It is and will always be beautiful. That doesn’t mean that loving your cunt has to be a sexual thing; but a love for part of your body. I have met so many women who do not like how their cunt looks. This baffles me. How the hell can someone else love a part of you that you hate/are ashamed of/won’t touch? HOW, I ASK YOU?! Be comfortable with how many wonderful things our cunts can do. We can orgasm over and over and over and over and over and over. We can quake and squirt because we can come soooooo hard. We can increase sensitivity to our cunts via our clit or our g-spot or from anal stimulation. We can stimulate our cunts from touching our breasts, reading an erotic novel, or even daydreaming. Women can even orgasm without touch at all. (Some– a small percentage… but you may be a part of that percentage. Have you ever tried NOT touching yourself to come?). We can orgasm in so many different ways. (Really, there are books about the different types of female orgasm. Guess how many male orgasms are achievable?…. hmm… not a lot).
You don’t have to get out the hand mirror and look and play with your cunt, but I encourage you to. I encourage you to be THAT comfortable with yourself. I think it’s a basic part of being alive. Beauty, in a body– YOUR body, you must love. If you find how comfortable and how much you can love your cunt, yourself, you will be amazed at how confident and empowering that is. There doesn’t have to be “cunt envy” or competition between women… the first step is to love your cunt exactly the way it is: how it functions and how it looks and how it feels. I think if you begin this exploration, you will be amazed with yourself. No wonder men have historically wanted to suppress us. Not only can we derive more pleasure from our cunts, but we can also give life from them. Yeah. We’re fucking A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. (Little fact: women have TWICE amount of nerve endings on our clit as men do on the entire head of their penis. Now you can explain to them, if you are sexually active with men, WHY they must be so careful with that delicate little organ!) All we need is ourselves. And a loving, encouraging relationship with each other. We women must learn to love each other, if for no other reason, BECAUSE we are women.

Sadly, I see so many women try to give up our freedom to just be women and to just love ourselves for a “relationship” with some guy– or girl– with whom they can be a happy person with. If you cannot be happy with yourself, there is no outside source that will magically make you whole.
Your friends, your extended family, your community– in whatever way you have constructed it– can love you enough to be happy as you are. And if you do not think your community is adequate for this necessity; change it. Update. Sometimes, the first step is to just have this discussion with your close friends/community and put it out on the table: I need to be loved. I want to love back.

Can’t we all love each other enough so we don’t have to search for romance or sex for human closeness? For closeness at all?


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