On Being A Woman

On Being A Woman May 14, 2016

by Mari cross posted from her blog Mari’s Muses

Images from Mari’s Muses.

I’ve been reading this book the past few days:


On the very first page, it said this:


Truer words have never been spoken.

One of the questions asked in the first few pages was something along the lines of “when did you become a woman?” A very thought-provoking question.

When and how do you become a woman??

It could be any number of things, from physiological changes, to trauma to getting a driver’s license to having a baby.

It’s different for everybody.

For me, I didn’t start to feel like a woman until I was about 32. It was when, for the first time, a man wanted to spend time perusing ideas with me and going on picnics with me and doing basic life with me. It was when I entertained for the first time in my very own home. It was when I finally got a job where I was treated like an adult.

I had done many “adult” things prior to that.

Around my 29th birthday, I realized that even though I’d been an adult for years, I still felt like a child.

I was fresh out of a very controlling environment and wondering why no one took me seriously.

And then it hit me. The problem was that I saw myself as a child. It’s hard for everybody else to think of you as an adult if you view yourself as a child.

I had to remind myself on a daily basis that I was a woman and not just a little girl playing dress-up with Mommy’s heels.

Reminders like “yes, you can go out for dinner with that guy. You’re an adult now.

Reminders from men that I wasn’t just a little girl; that I was a nice, person who was capable of having beautiful, intelligent and interesting conversations.

Reminders that I’d been doing grown-up things like paying the bills and fixing the car and cleaning the house for years and that means you’re a woman now, not just a little girl.

I had to convince myself that I was actually an adult.

But, I’ve been an adult in survival mode.

When you’re living in survival mode, it’s hard to explore the nuances of what it means to be an adult. A woman.

Now that I think about it, I really don’t feel like a woman and I don’t have a clue what it means to be a woman.

Adult, yes. I can do adult.

Woman? Not so much.


Read everything by Mari!

Mari is the middle of 5 kids — and the only girl — in a male-dominant, semi-quiverfull, rather patriarchal homeschooling family. She was raised in a patriarchal church and most of her social network as a child consisted of children of patriarchal or quiverfull families. This is the story of how she was sucked into the patriarchal/quiverfull belief system, and how she was lovingly (and in some cases, not so lovingly!) escorted out. Read her blog at: http://www.marismuses.wordpress.com

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  • Abigail Smith

    Thank you for sharing. I didn’t grow up QF, but in an abusive, controlling home. Even though I have 6 kids of my own, I only began to feel like an adult a year ago at age 47 when I went no contact with my abusive family. Funny how that worked….
    Even though I had lived far enough away and had limited contact, their claws of control invaded every part of my life.
    P.S. I looked at your blog and saw that you are learning to draw. Bravo. I am a self-taught artist…wanted to be an artist since I was little, but was not allowed to…I believe with all my heart that drawing is a skill that can be learned and is so good for your brain and emotional healing.
    Here are some of my favorite resources that I used in my journey to learn to draw:
    Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards
    Lee Hammond’s book (she has so many)
    Draw What You See by Ann Kullberg (she is self-taught) http://annkullberg.com/products/drawing-course

  • It’s an interesting question. I’m 32 and many days I still feel like a perfect fraud of an adult. Like when we moved into our house, and I had to remind myself that yes, I am allowed to go up in my own attic because yes, I am actually a grown-up :/

    As far as feeling like a woman, I don’t know. I deal with the dreaded monthly thing. I’m married to a man and I get crushes on male actors. I like to cook and garden, but I also like to do Kung Fu. I read a lot of fantasy books where the main character is male and I identify easily with them. I’ve played both male and female RPG characters. I’ve been male in plenty of dreams. I’m a terrible judge of which gender online people are if the name doesn’t make it obvious. My gender is not a thing I personally identify much with at all, I guess because I live so much in my own imagination where it doesn’t matter. But I know other people do feel a strong sense of gender, so maybe I’m the exception rather than the rule.

  • Victoria

    I was having this same conversation the other day. I am about to turn 25 and wondering when I was going to start feeling like an adult, rather than a little girl playing dress up. I like to joke about the Bojack Horseman character Vincent Adultman, who is three kids stacked on top of each other under a trenchcoat, but I seriously sometimes think I am going to be “found out” sometimes. I don’t know if its being on my own after growing up in the fundie culture where women are babied and denied agency, but it is a constant battle to remind myself that I am capable of decision-making and don’t need permission to do anything.

  • Astrin Ymris

    Me too! Well, not the Kung Fu, cooking, gardening, and being married parts. But I have dreamed of being male “characters” and have trouble telling gender online.