Multifaceted Me Series: Mujer
When I thought about the roles that dictate how I live my life, I knew that I proudly wanted to highlight my role as a woman. I’ve desperately been trying to divorce each of my roles as a unique layer of my identity, but I sit here in this fifth layer wondering… Can this identity of woman stand on its own?
Every time I brainstorm what it means to be a mujer it seems the identity is difficult to separate from other relationships. A woman as a daughter, as a wife, as a sister, as a girlfriend. But what makes a woman a woman?
When I asked a dear friend how she would define woman, she said: beauty through nature, power through pain, strength through vulnerability.
I wasn’t sure exactly what context she was thinking when she responded, but I didn’t probe because I was looking for the gut answer when I asked. In rereading these descriptions, I wonder again how a woman “powering through pain” is different than the mom who powers through labor. What particular vulnerability culminates in strength that cannot be exhibited in the role of a wife or a teacher?
While I’m fully aware of the ethically loaded act of attempting to define “woman” in today’s society, I am merely striving for what this means to me. I beam with pride when I consider my roles as daughter, wife, mom, and teacher. I can easily define those, and I recognize how each role is often described in relation to others. It’s common to want to rally around a deep pride in being a woman, and I am proud!
But what do we mean by that? What am I proud of that is distinctly womanly?
Is it loving myself – from personality to hair to stretch marks? Is it claiming ownership of my body? Does being a woman mean advocating for others? Is it demanding equal pay? Is it expecting equal responsibilities in the home? Does identifying as a woman mean prioritizing women’s issues and demanding males to also prioritize women’s issues? Is it being a good sister?
I genuinely see many of these courageous acts interwoven with my other roles, and I’m left with more questions than answers. Does my being a woman inform how I consume the cuentos as a mija, how I relate to my male husband, how I create space in my classroom for las chicas, how I nurture my son as his mami?
This series covering my identities is in no way definitive because I believe we are in a constant state of learning. In fact, this post regarding my last layer has the least amount of concrete answers. I do, however, agree with my dear friend.
No matter how I choose to see my role as mujer – standalone or in relation to others – there is beauty. When there is pain, we not only power through, but also become more powerful. We are infinitely stronger when we allow ourselves to step into the space of vulnerability.
Does being a woman, in fact, empower and encourage the rest of my roles?
Here’s to discovering more of what this means through my writing journey!