Being a woman in 2022 - even stating that I am one without including a qualifier - is fraught. Like most of us, I could not have foreseen the day in America when to say "I am a woman" could be framed as an act of hate, intolerance, or violence.
And yet here I am, a woman in 2022. My sex has not changed with the times. I grew up as a girl, with all the joys and challenges that brought. A shy, self-conscious child, I spent afternoons alone in my bedroom, practicing self-choreographed dance routines to Janet Jackson and Madonna. I leapt on and off my bed, imagining myself performing my brilliant routines in a school talent show, but knowing I'd never have the nerve. I got out of the whole question by reasoning that I couldn't possibly perform my routines on stage, without a bed to leap on and off of.
As a girl, I found a fierce part of myself in the anger and fear I felt as my brother's friend pointed a BB gun at me in our backyard. In middle school, I understood what it meant when the boys started saying about another girl that she "would be a 10 if she put a paper bag over her head." I studied teen girl magazines, subconsciously beginning on the endless list of ways that I am "not enough."
Today, in a world obsessed with relative rankings of privilege and oppression, dead set on reducing individuals to the sum of their inherited parts and demanding that any disadvantages of birth be made up societally, my inheritance of a female body paired with a sense of self that also feels "female" is an advantage to be paid for. How to pay? State my pronouns. Add "cis" to my sex. Deny any differences in how I feel when in the company of men versus women. Deny inherent biological factors; deny that these same factors place me at physical disadvantage to almost any adult male human, despite how he "identifies." Deny that being a woman is associated with being the bearer of life, and the deep vulnerability that brings.
A liberal by nature, I am no stranger to compassion. I have always empathized to a point of pain, have in fact survived years of depression brought on by the revelations of history in our imperfect world, suffered at the thought of so much suffering, past, present, and future.
But I am also a "4" on the Enneagram - an individualist - who has always riled and struck back at unearned authority. I don't aim to be argumentative; I just can't make myself go along with an idea of which I am not convinced. As a "4," I seek the deepest understanding of existential questions, ever willing to weather the attendant storms of despair, ever accepting the risk of depression that they bring. In a few words: I think deeply, and nothing can stop me. An idea that doesn't withstand (or even allow) scrutiny - that in fact claims that questions are hateful or racist - doesn't move me. And bullying - not even in its feminine form of character assassination - has never been enough to win my compliance.
I am not aiming to achieve anything in particular with this post. The opposition to authority is itself the only goal. As the year 2022 draws to a close, I am compelled to plant a flag. I still stand for freedom of speech and an open exchange of ideas - even if it makes someone uncomfortable. I still claim my right to state the truth as I can best decipher it. And the truth is: I am still a woman.