Saturday February 2 2013

Tell me the right way to be feminine

By Christine W. Wanjala

Every time someone says “behave like a woman” or “be lady-like” I am tempted to ask them to be more specific. Like which woman or which lady should I be like because I do not want to believe what they are suggesting; that there is one example of lady-like character or womanly behaviour that over three billion women in the world are supposed to emulate. Really? As if there isn’t enough pressure on being a woman, now we have to go and try to behave in a certain way that the society has pre-conceived to be womanly behaviour.

Where does this idea come from? And who was the original lady that we are supposed to be taking after? I doubt it is Eve, the Biblical original woman, seeing as the only references besides her beauty, which caused Adam to recite the first poem ever, were causing misfortune and death to the whole human race by eating the forbidden fruit, misleading the man and giving birth to the first murderer. So, is there another woman we are supposed to follow? Mother Teresa maybe?

We cannot all join a convent because then, what would happen to the human race? Wangari Maathai? We could all try save the planet but not all of us are as fire brand as that. You can make your own list from those well known to those only you know and still realise that we all cannot be like any of those women. Not because their characters are not admirable, but because, well, we are all our own women, different in character as much as we are different physically. So, how then are we all supposed to be feminine in the same way?

The world has known all kinds of women, and they all carry their femininity in different ways. Strong no nonsense ones, others whose strength was in their nurturing and tolerant nature. Vivacious balls of energy and others that are known for their reserved quiet. All these, when they achieved something commendable, were lauded as women and we women accepted it and celebrated with them. There was no dissecting their behaviour, on whether they were lady like or feminine, we just accepted them as a credit to our gender. Truth is, we each have our own ways of being women, depending on who we learnt from, what we were exposed to and, most importantly, our characters.

I think these differences make women a formidable force. That is if we all stopped trying to behave the same way, or struggling to attain unrealistic femininity goals. How about we use that energy staying true to ourselves?