One of the most profound things I have figured out and the thing that took me the longest to come to was the idea that I am a woman and that is good. You might be a bit confused by that revelation, but I remember when this thought first occurred to me as when true understanding finally dawned, it hit me so hard that I felt it physically.
Superficially, I always knew this to be true, but one of the things I’ve learned in reading these Truths over the last few years is that there are different levels of understanding. You will think you understand a concept and then someone will comment on it and you will reach a deeper, almost tangible level of understanding that really sends it home for you. An understanding that proves the superficial level you thought you were at before was really not an understanding at all. It was merely an acknowledgment.
“If we knew ahead of time what was going to happen we’d be – we’d be like the people on Camazotz, with no lives of our own, with everything all planned and done for us. How can I explain it to you? Oh, I know. In your language you have a form of poetry called the sonnet.”
“Yes, yes,” Calvin said impatiently. “What’s that got to do with the Happy Medium?”
“Kindly pay me the courtesy of listening to me.” Mrs Whatsit’s voice was stern, and for a moment Calvin stopped pawing the ground like a nervous colt. “It is a very strict form of poetry, is it not?”
“There are fourteen lines, I believe, all in iambic pentameter. That’s a very strict rhythm or meter, yes?”
“Yes” Calvin nodded.
“And each line had to end with a rigid rhyme pattern. And if the poet does not do it exactly this way, it is not a sonnet, is it?”
“But within this strict form the poet has complete freedom to say whatever he wants, doesn’t he?”
“Yes.” Calvin nodded again.
“So,” Mrs Whatsit said.
“Oh, do not be stupid, boy!” Mrs Whatsit scolded. “You know perfectly well what I am driving at!”
“You mean you’re comparing our lives to a sonnet? A strict form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.”
~ An excerpt from A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle ~
We are women and we have a female nature. This nature is inherently different from male nature and gives us our own strengths and our own weaknesses. This nature, this being woman, is not inherently bad nor is in inherently good. It simply is. These are our rules and it is our sonnet to write. Trying to break these rules means playing at being men and we fail at this. We make poor men, but we have the opportunity to make excellent women.
When we first find articles deriding what women have become today, it is very easy to get down on oneself, to start seeing women as terribly flawed and today, this is true. We’ve been learning for decades now to try to be men and, of course, we are failing miserably at it. But . . . when we learn and we try to be women, when we stay within the rules of the sonnet, we can become excellent. To hate this, to hate these rules and to find them oppressive, weak, degrading, etc is to hate what women are. It is to hate what we were born with and to deny our very selves. This is what feminism has taught us to do. To the very thing that makes us women. What I want to tell you is that being woman is not a terrible thing.
Feminine in general means being more delicate in speech, either when delivering a coy insult or when buoying up drooping spirits. Femininity requires not the sudden and angry bravery of war and combat, but the slow and loving and patient bravery of rearing children and dealing with childish menfolk: female fortitude is a tenacity that does not yield even after repeated disappointments and defeats. And, believe you me, dear reader, a woman in love has a very clear-eyed view of the faults and flaws of her man, and if her love is true, she does not yield to despair or give up on him. The female spirit is wise rather than cunning, deep in understanding rather than adroit in deductive logic, gentle and supportive rather than boastful and self-aggrandizing. The strong feminine character is solid in faith in all things.
It would be wasteful and absurd for nature to give women the sexual organs needed to bear children without giving women the sexual nature of women needed to use those organs properly or raise those children properly. That women would be more concerned with the tasks related to childrearing than men is neither absurd nor unfair, but reasonable and natural.
Like it or not, nature has oriented female thinking to make them generally better at teaching a child how to volunteer to do a task, so that he will naturally and willingly do his tasks once he is grown; whereas men are generally better at commanding and punishing, so that the task gets done whether the child is willing or unwilling.
The female concentrates on the doer; the male on the deed.
Whether or not nature is being cruel and arbitrary with this specialization of roles is a debate for another day.
But the purpose of the specialization is also difficult to deny: children need both a father-figure to mete out justice and fight for the family against the world, winning bread and slaying foes, and need a mother-figure to quench the thirst for mercy and nurture the family within the home. The mindset needed for these tasks is different, hence the approach is different. Men fight and women nurse the wounded, and then tongue-lash any malingering men into going back into the fight. Their role is support rather than front line duty.
No doubt there are people reading this and thinking, “Women are not like this! They are not nurturing and caring creatures!” and today, for a large amount of women, you would be absolutely correct. We have been taught to deny our femininity just as men have been taught to deny their masculinity. We rail at our given strengths and believe and teach them to be weaknesses and we teach them to be weak, bad, and wrong. But out femininity is none of these things. We have a choice as to what we do with our nature. We can deny it and break the rules, thereby losing what it is to be woman, or we can embrace it. We can see it for what it is, our given nature and work and learn within it to nurture our own lives and the lives of those around us.
A caution: Yes, a sonnet has rigid rules to abide by in order to make it a sonnet, but within these rules, the possibilities are endless. Do not hate, fear, or loathe your own nature. It is a beautiful thing when you learn to embrace it. Amazingly, when you fall into your own rules, not only will your life change for the better, people around you will react to you in a completely different manner, because the rules make sense at a profound level.
To be woman, is not evil. It is what we choose to do with our nature that will show what kind of person we are.