“The door to womanhood can only be entered by a man?”
We Want Our Bodies Back, Jessica Care Moore
Seriously though, have you ever noticed how everything relating to girlhood and womanhood is always in association with that of men, the stereotypical gender roles or with us having to give something up? But then for us to give something up means we must have rights, means we must have control or a say in the things that happen to us.
The way in which girlhood and womanhood is addressed is founded on a patriarchal belief system, one in which girls and women are spoken about as if we are property, not human.
One might even say it’s as though we are preparing for a funeral.
When a boy wants to date a girl, it is sometimes expected that he asks the girl’s father for permission. But permission for what exactly? Granted, it is coming from a genuine place with no ill intent but let’s play devil’s advocate for a second. What happens if the girl doesn’t want to date said boy? The point being, girls and women should be asked first. It is their permission they should seek. It seems only fair that a person asks the permission of the girl or woman they want to date. After all, they are dating her, not the father. I mean, do we not get a say in anything anymore? Or are assumptions just going to be made on our behalf?
Take one’s virginity for example. Girls/Women are expected to be virgins when they’re married, so their husbands are the “ones to take it”. So in other words, we are “giving” it up only to our husbands. But what do men have to give up? What are they losing? What do we get in return? If a girl “gives up” her virginity to someone other than her husband, she’s immediately shamed. All because she “gave it up” to the wrong man? Who are you, who are we to decide what a girl or woman can or cannot do with her body? Who are we to judge who she “gives” it up to?
Why can’t the idea of virginity be discussed as us, girls and women, blessing someone with this? Why does it have to be discussed as if we have no choice, as if we are preparing for a funeral. It seems as though we’re losing a part of ourselves, and for what? for who?
Why is that whenever a girl or woman says they’re saving themselves, saving their virginity, it’s always assumed that it’s for marriage? Can a girl not save her virginity for herself? Why is that every time a woman does something, it’s always assumed she is doing it for a man?
And on that note, I think I should point out that girls are groomed from young to be wives, to take care of the men in their lives. It may not be true for everybody but it is still definitely true. The whole idea of girlhood, of womanhood, in society involves us learning how to cook, how to clean, how to do laundry, how to take care of a household but these are all basic life skills that everyone should know. Point. Blank. Period. It is not a woman’s job. In fact, the job of girls and women should be to live their lives freely, unapologetically and completely for themselves, not for the will of man.
All that being said, I think the language addressing girlhood and womanhood needs to be revisited, revised, whatever words get my point across. And maybe this time, make it a joyous occasion, one where girls are celebrated simply for being born girl, celebrated as they are about to step into womanhood, one where womanhood is not defined by that of man.
That’s it and that’s all.
Words by Miah
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