This Women’s Month, I would like to share this platform with my granddaughter, Amber Gabrielle. Her Igorot name is also “Inglay”. She is a woman now, just having turned 18, but has found her ‘roar’ that she expresses so well through the written word. Kindly permit the indulgence. Following are Amber’s words.
The Wonder of Women
By Amber Gabrielle “Inglay” Fokno
WHEN you hear the word “woman”, what comes to your mind? Do you think of the ability to bear a child? Maybe a person with certain body parts? While you could be right, you’re wrong at the same time. If those characteristics are what pop into your head, then you’re thinking more of a female than a woman.
Because to me, what I think of when I hear the word “woman” are the people who have been with me from day one. I’ve always been surrounded by women who aren’t afraid to be themselves. They are coated in fearlessness and hardwork. I’ve come to look up to them as role models, from a lola who balances multiple businesses at a certain age to having a mother and aunties who do not hesitate to let their opinions be known by even the harshest of people. I’ve recognized their efforts to get to where they are now and how they continue to push through to go even further. I wish the same for you – to appreciate the efforts, big or small, of the women in your life.
I’ve always wanted to shed light on women and the power they hold that people relentlessly fail to acknowledge, let alone see. This women’s month, we come together to recognize the biases and gender-based inequality faced by women.
By biological definition, a female is an individual of that sex that possesses the ability to conceive and bear children. Women, on the other hand, are more than the power of bringing life into the world.
Let’s take a look at the difference between “female” and “woman” because, no, they do not mean the same thing. As mentioned earlier, “female” leans more towards a scientific definition as it refers to any species of that sex with the capability to produce children, while “woman” refers specifically to humans, to people.
The term “woman” encompasses everything that makes one who she is, but what exactly makes a woman? Countless hallmarks sculpt a woman. Among them, what stands out to me the most are courage, strength, and the perseverance to rise above the stereotypes and prejudice held against us as women.
As soon as I step out of my home, I am marked by courage. The courage that echoes with the sound of my shoes on the pavement as I walk the streets each day. I move with one foot in front of the other, in heightened fright of being catcalled, touched, or even grabbed by those who cannot keep their thoughts and hands to themselves. Nevertheless, I go on as my bravery overshadows my fears.
Looking at this from another lens, however, reveals a completely different scene. It shows that I, along with other women, need to muster up bravery just to do something as small as leaving the house. Even worse, my mere existence as a woman is a threat to my life and safety. What’s wrong here is how people expect me to always be on the lookout or know how to defend myself instead of correcting the perpetrators. The courage I have as a woman shows how quick people are to point the blame to the victim and defend the wrongdoers with statements such as “maybe she was wearing something revealing,” “she shouldn’t have drank too much,” and other comments alike that keep culprits away from scrutiny. The prevention of any sort of harm is rooted in correcting the wrong and not making me adjust to what shouldn’t occur in the first place.
Along with courage, I possess the strength to uphold myself in society today, where I am criticized for being myself, especially for how I look. This strength I hold surrounds many aspects of myself as a woman, especially the strength to love myself the way I am in this world.
Self-love, particularly in the physical sense, isn’t vanity, nor is it selfishness. Rather, it is a process that calls for my strength to give way for it to manifest in myself. Self-love battles insecurities and allows myself to be happy and satisfied with what I have, not only on a physical level, but also with my mental and emotional states. I feel for the high number of women around the world who put themselves down, especially for their physical appearance. Let it be established that my body is more than how I look, and if this was more widely recognized by women and even men, millions of women, including myself, would know how it feels to be content with who they are and with the body they have.
Learning to shift my mindset onto what my body does for me instead of focusing on what it isn’t and what it can’t do makes it easier for me to embrace my imperfections. This is where strength comes in again. As difficult it may be to switch mindsets up, I know I have the strength to do exactly that.
As progressive a society we strive to be, gender stereotypes still sway people into believing I, as a woman, should behave based on a certain set of roles and expectations. I, up until today, am expected to be accommodating and kind no matter what. If I am not, I am labelled as harsh and cold. This stereotype held against me and other women only paints us with more harm as this trait is abused by many.
In my age, the thought of having children is out of the picture, but I’ve seen stories of women expected to want children, and this is tied with the stereotype that women are nurturing. However, when we claim to not want children, which some really do not, we are called out for it and called a “waste” as if we only exist to have children. It’s time to realize that not every woman is wired the same way, meaning not all of us are meant for motherhood.
Furthermore, people have such strong hatred directed at women just for their gender. Hundreds of women are killed for the sole reason of being a woman. The stigma that women don’t belong in positions of power and in certain jobs have limited countless women from using the numerous skills they have. Misogyny and acting upon it run deep and are prevalent whether we are or not aware of it.
Throughout hundreds of years, women have grown tired of being held to a set of expectations that revolve around their sex and gender. They’ve learned to stand their ground and use their voices to break through the oppressive stereotypes. Weary of being silenced, women persist to be listened to, and not just heard.
The wonder of women is how they get out of bed each morning and face the day surrounded with positivity despite the gloom and dangers cast upon them by society. They lift themselves and other women up with the strength to love themselves and others for who they are fearlessly. Women continuously fight the forces that hold and keep them down. The wonder of women is existing as a woman.
To every woman, and to those who identify as a woman, happy International Women’s Month. You are valid and you are loved. More power to you. More power to us!