Mouse rant blog vent mouse.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Womanhood

Over at Alas, a Blog, Amp has posted a rebuttal to Hugo's definition of "real man" or "manhood", pointing out that pretty much all discussions of what makes someone a "real man" imply that women are lesser beings. He has a point.

I think it's a shame, really, that our culture's long-standing sexism has made it damn near impossible to articulate the concept of being a mature member of a certain sex. It's an important concept, after all. Coming into adulthood is tied into coming into sexual maturity. Being a mature person is defined largely by one's ability to conduct one's sexual life responsibly, among other things. I have nothing but total sympathy for men who want to define proper manhood by respect, kindness, a sense of justice, etc. To my mind, that's nothing more than saying that proper manhood is being a mature person as a man. But the truth is that there is no equivalent definition of womanhood that involves making choices, taking responsibility, and acting maturely.

So, what does define "womanhood"? I mulled it over a bit and then read this comment by Allen at Alas:

While girls have a certain point in their life at which their mother takes them aside and explains that, like it or not, they are now a woman, boys have no such experience. The onset of shaving really doesn't have the same significance.

Ah yes, the "you are a woman now" thing. Your body goes through a process and boom! you're a woman as surely at 12 as someone at 32. So there you go. Manhood, regardless of whether you define it as machismo or maturity, you are still defining proper manhood as a function of will. Manhood is about choices, intelligence, even the soul.

Womanhood is a biological function that women have no control over. Can you make a baby? Okay, you're a woman then. You don't earn the right to be a real woman. It is not defined by choices or accomplishments. Maturity is irrelevant to womanhood. Women themselves are irrelevant to womanhood--they are passive agents and womanhood happens to them, at least in our language.

So, I find that I have to agree with Amp. As long as manhood is seen as a result of action and womanhood something that acts upon a woman, manhood will always be defined as superior to womanhood.

36 Comments:

Blogger Hugo said...

I haven't really put my definition up yet! Sheesh! Give me a day or two...

9/30/2004

 
Blogger Amanda said...

LOL I figure that you'll say what you mean--but I do find it interesting that there is a lot of discussion about about what makes a man, but no one seems to think that what makes a woman is worth mentioning.

9/30/2004

 
Blogger Diane said...

And have you ever noticed when someone is trying to get a woman to show some courage, that person says to her "Come on, be a man!" That says it all, doesn' it?

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Blogger Hugo said...

Okay, I posted on it. Tried to, anyway, and then ran way over my self-imposed limit.

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I always thought of "being a real man" as "learning how to cooperate with others, how to be nurturing, how to come to terms with emotions instead of hiding them," etc. - basically, overcoming bad socialization learned as a boy, the same way "being a real woman" often involves overcoming bad socialization learned as a girl. But I guess that's just me...

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