When the “real women” campaign started a few years ago, it filled me with hope that my little girls would have a chance at developing a positive body image. More recently, the campaign grew legs and sprinted its way to Negative Town, replacing its original uplifting message with yet another way to tear women down.
Do a quick google search for “real woman quotes” and you will find a plethora of images telling you what real women should or should not do. Apparently, if you don’t have curves, drive a stick shift, watch football, avoid drama, have a job, pay your own bills, or drink regular beer, you are not a real woman.
Forgive me if I seem a bit misguided, but I was under the impression that if you have a vagina, you are, in fact, a real woman. The ugly retorts that have since stemmed from the campaign seem to debate whether or not your actions qualify you as a real woman. And to that, I call bullshit. The most disturbing part of this is that the accusatory attitude toward these artificial beings formerly known as women are mostly coming from-yep, you guessed it-other women!
Reading articles using the “real woman” catchphrase with an added dose of snotty “I’ve-just-entered-my-teenage-years” rhetoric have become commonplace. In recent years, I’ve also been privy to disappointing conversations that begin with, “A real woman wouldn’t _______ (fill in the blank with whatever you think someone born with female genitalia wouldn’t dream of doing).” When I see and hear statements like this, I am reminded of a child’s logic while throwing a tantrum, “Well, you didn’t give me that firetruck, so you must be a poo-poo head.”
With that in mind, you’ll have to understand that if childlike behavior is in your wheelhouse, then I invoke the right to use the common toddler parental phrase “use your words” to garner a more valid response from you. For instance, if you feel the need to call me out for not being a “real woman”, please specify why you have the urge to verbally remove my vagina. Or better yet, just be direct and tell me what you actually think lies between my thighs. I am enthralled to know…really.
Ladies, the bottom line is that we all don’t have to get along. But don’t defeminize a woman because she doesn’t like the same things you like, or because she hasn’t accomplished everything you have accomplished. Just because she may have acted inappropriately as compared to your holier than thou standards doesn’t mean that she needs her vagina lopped off. It just means that she does things differently than you. And that’s okay.
We all work, play, eat, diet, stress, meditate, sweat, relax, laugh, cry, judge, love. Some of us fall and get back up. Some of us have strong opinions or passions. Some of us are thin, but unhealthy. Some of us are overweight and have never felt better. Although we may all have flaws, we also each have something great to offer. Mind you, our offerings may not be intended for everyone, but just because you haven’t seen that side of a woman doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
So to those women residing in Negative Town, the next time you admonish a female for not being real, please remember that she may have real feelings, real insecurities, a real personality, real struggles, real opinions, real thoughts and real dreams. She may not be your cup of tea, but she sure as hell is a “real woman”.
*Disclaimer: This in no way reflects my opinion of those who lack a vagina, but identify as female. This was not written as an attempt to disrespect those women, as they will always have my full support.