To Be Woman
Content warning: This piece contains mentions of violence and abuse towards women.
“Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and destroy the male sex.”
This is the opening paragraph of late radical feminist, Valerie Solanas’s self-published work, S.C.U.M Manifesto–S.C.U.M standing for “Society for Cutting up Men.” Lately, this opening paragraph along with similar radical feminist sentiments have been on my mind. Lingering. Festering. All prompting the same question. What does it mean to be woman?
From the moment that I was born into this world, a world that has long proved its violent hatred for women, my body became public property. Born to be ogled at, spoken for, grabbed, beaten down and muzzled like the bitch I've so customarily been called.
But that's what I want, right? I go out at night. I drink. I flirt. I have sex. So I'm asking for it, right? Then I shouldn't be angry when the first thing my employer sees as I enter an interview is my chest. I shouldn’t be angry when a stranger grabs my crotch in the middle of a club. I shouldnt be angry when the boy in my grade nine summer school class says he wants to rip the slit in my dress and rape me. Right?
But I am. I'm angry. I'm angry. I'm angry and I have every right to be.
Angry that my identity is reduced to my body. That my sex is above my humanity. That no matter what I have to say, to think, to do, in the eyes of the world and the men around me, I am a shell to be ogled at, spoken for, grabbed, beaten down and muzzled. Now I know. This is what it means to be woman.