It's Time for the Real Women to Stand Up
When Will the Real Women Stand Up?
By: Jen Van Outer, a Real Woman, with a son who doesn’t believe he’s a Real Man, who is experiencing the unique pain and cognitive dissonance that results from the collision of feminism with gender confusion within a family.
Anyone remember the 1980s commercial for Enjoli – a perfume ad, featuring a sexy female, reminding the world that she could “bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan”? Or Helen Reddy singing, “I am woman! Hear me roar!”? Perhaps I’m dating myself, but these catchy tunes were the launching pad of my variety of feminism at an early age.
Surrounded by a team of brothers, I grew up playing football, soccer, and white flag. Not once did I consider myself a boy just because I wasn’t one of those girly-girls, like some of my peers who sat inside, learning how to apply makeup. I preferred jerseys and jeans, just like the boys I spent my days playing and riding bikes with. Unlike some parents today might, my mother never suggested that I might really be a boy, as she watched me outside proving that I could throw a football just as well as the boy up the street.
I eventually did outgrow those helmets and shoulder pads. I even joined those girly-girls, who willingly got me to speed on the hair and makeup tips I had missed during my tomboy phase. I was on my own schedule and I never felt pressured or influenced to do it any other way.
It really wasn’t all that long ago that women fought to be recognized as a group – to be fairly represented in the work place, in medical research and patient care, equal pay, and to be positioned to shatter the corporate glass ceilings. We appreciated and respected the differences of our male counterparts. We just wanted to be treated equally and be visible. Equal but different. We won. Apparently, though, that was yesterday’s feminism.
In today’s feminism, “women” is not a sex-based group – it's a feeling. Not only is it okay to erase everything we’ve fought for and hand it over to boys and men who now “identify” as female, it’s required and increasingly even mandated and codified in our legal systems.
Like all my fellow women, I didn’t get a choice. I was born female and, while I was allowed, maybe even encourage, to have a gender non-conforming personality and set of interests, there is no escaping the differences, limitations and advantages, both cultural and physical of my female form. Men will never experience the beautiful gift of pregnancy nor the monthly, dreaded period. Men and boys will never know what it feels like to be treated like a woman or girl in society and family structures. Like many women, I am now asking, how can one say they feel like a woman when they’ve never actually been a woman? And more importantly, why is society so quick to affirm and accept young boys as identifying as girls?
It isn’t the dress that makes a woman. Or makeup. Or our painted nails. Or even our curves that appeared almost over-night at the on-set of puberty. For anyone to suggest that that’s all being a woman is, well that’s just plain ignorant. Offensive. Or in today’s world, woke. It’s sending the wrong message to the world and most importantly, to our young girls. Girls and women can’t opt out of womanhood, and no one, similarly should be able to opt in to a protected class.
It seems so simple and clear, but not to our children, who are being raised in a new environment where personality, style and interests are confused and conflated with fixed traits and biological reality. Where a male or female is defined by stereotypes, not by genetics, gametes and chromosomes. Our schools are even on board with this new definition, teaching this ideology to children in Kindergarten. Science is out the window. No wonder our young kids are confused.
Thank God my mom never suggested that I may be a boy. I would have followed right down the transition path if I thought that my apparent “boyish” interests meant that my body was somehow wrong. Had she supported that position and cheered on transitioning, I would have never grown up to be the woman I am today; married with 2 children. I still bike and play sports with my kids. But I’m also the room parent and that happily bakes birthday cupcakes each year. I define my style and expression in my own way, just as it should be. None of that is what makes me a woman. My husband also helps to cook and clean, our marriage is a partnership. Similarly, the traits that he has on the more stereotypically feminine side do not make him any less of a man, and he does not subscribe to the belief that there’s any box he needs to fit neatly into.
We’ve come a long way and I’m not really interested in going backwards or giving up hard- earned women’s rights. There is not one mold called woman. We can be corporate executives, stay-at-home moms, entrepreneurs, craftsman, construction workers, farmers, coaches, and even professional athletes. The sky is the limit.
But while women, can achieve any aspiration attainable by skill, perseverance, education, and hard work, not just any human can be a woman. Woman is a concrete, sex-based category, unique and separate from Man. Women are not “birthing persons”. Trans women are not a type of woman, because, there are no subsets of woman. They are a type of man. They are men that, for whatever reason, feel more comfortable living their lives in the stereotypical dress and societal role of a woman. But looking, dressing and acting like a woman, doesn't a woman make. Because, as I hope I have described, anything goes when it comes to how to look, dress, and act like a woman – there is only one criterion – being female. Womanhood is not a one- size-fits-all. But it is XX.
The time has come for us women to once again defend our rights and protect our spaces, and most importantly, to protect our children while celebrating their differences. As a feminist, I intend to do just that, and I hope that all women step up to join the fight.