Loving the Earth through experience and thought – this is an incredibly beautiful reflection.
Originally posted on Mama Africa:
During a project planning meeting the other day, we were designating names to different groups of stakeholders. One group was women from the age of 20 to 25. I suggested that we call them young women. However, there was some debate over whether or not this age group would be considered “women”. At the age of 21, I consider myself to be a young woman. But in Uganda, the majority of people consider a girl to enter womanhood once she produces a child. This made me consider just how dynamic the term “woman” is and question how different societies designates who a “woman” is and what this means for those societies and our earth as a whole.
Although I have much to learn, I’ve gathered that generally in the Buganda region of Uganda being a woman is associated with holding a specific role in society. Family life and fertility are integral parts of womanhood. In fact, women that produce twins are highly respected in traditional Bugandan culture. Although women play a diversity of roles in society, the majority of women are pillars in household and family life, especially in rural areas. I have often seen them in the roles of food providers, life bearers, and teachers.
In the Western world, women are strongly associated by the word “feminine”. Gender is primarily based off appearance, and those who are “womanly” often have an appearance that would be considered feminine. In societal roles and on paper, woman and men are generally equal (or at least that is what we are striving for). Since feminism movements emerged in the 19th and early 20th century and Betty Friedman challenged the role of women as housewives in The Feminine Mystique in 1963, women have fought for an equal position in society and have long since abandoned the pie baking apron wearing homemaker role. These days, women often embrace being feminine through their appearance. This can be very empowering for some women. Part of the reason I love being a woman is to get to play the role through my appearance, its actually pretty damn fun! However, these associations with what is “womanly” are generally being dictated by an outside source, a societal expectation of sorts. If these expectations are not being met, well, then you’re outside of the societal norm. For example, it isn’t everyday that you see a woman with a shaved head.