From Girl to Woman
Adulting? Or something else?
Written By Ashley Hutchinson
I’m nearly 22 years old. I identify as female, I’ve had a menstrual cycle, I’ve had sex, I’ve hit puberty and grown boobs. Albeit A-cups, but I’m proud of my little boobs. They’re like friends.
All this, and I still refer to myself as a girl, not a woman.
I want to start off by mentioning that this is a topic that requires further thought, research, and examination, because I think it goes deeper than simply feeling like an “adult.” Womanhood, with all of its twists and turns, connotations, emotional baggage, and meaning, is more than just a term that describes female identifying humanoids passing the age of 18, or getting their periods, or losing their virginity. It’s something that one can only truly be endowed with until they deem themselves worthy of the title.
My hesitation to call myself a woman stems from many things. I think it may be related to my habit of laughing every time I make out with boys, thinking they’re weird for being attracted to me. Or maybe it’s somehow entwined with my young face and small breasts. Or maybe it’s got something to do with my immaturity, my sense of humor, maybe my lack of confidence. It’s all related. Which is why I’ll reiterate that this topic requires a lot more thought.
But these are my first impressions; my first thoughts on the subject. The “warm up,” so to speak, for my manifesto that I probably won’t end up writing until much later, after I’ve traveled to India, and stood on a mountain, and came to terms with the ugliest parts of myself (See; “Places I haven’t Cried but Want To”).
I need to process this. And I think it would be nice to do so by going through my own experience with womanhood.
I walked out of the subway today, it was a particularly good morning: I had gotten a job, where I essentially got paid one hundred dollars to undress and redress a mannequin about seven times. What can I say? Acting.
I had negotiated with the Producer, as I was originally only supposed to be paid fifty dollars, but I was on set far longer than I should have been. I saw him shell out a fifty, and I halted him, mentioning something about how he had said specifically that he would pay me fifty dollars for an hour of my time, when in fact I had spent four hours of my time, and I know how film sets work and I should be paid the hourly wage.
He doubled my earnings. Though not the hourly wage of forty dollars, a secret I wouldn’t have told anybody of course was that as a young actor, starting out, I would have worked for free. I walked away feeling a new sense of worth, and feeling like my work--though no matter how “make believe”--was actually...something. My time was worth the negotiation.
And then, as if I wasn’t proud of myself already, a thought crossed my mind. A statistic, rather. That many women don’t negotiate their wages. They’re afraid of being pushy, worried that their work doesn’t warrant it, or maybe just afraid to speak up in general in a male dominated workplace. I will say, one of the most male dominated professions is the film industry, and the producer was, in fact, a man. And on this set, there was one female crew member (that wasn’t wardrobe or Hair and Makeup). Just saying.
But something about the interaction I had just had made me feel, for the first time perhaps ever, like a woman. I had wondered when this day would come. Thought maybe it wouldn’t. Assumed it wouldn’t, even. But I walked tall to the subway, and taller from the subway. And I was suddenly aware of my body, and my vagina (which I forget about a lot, honestly, partially because it’s so quiet down there lately). It was a good feeling. I felt the label of “woman” like a crowning glory, like something to be earned, rather than grown into.
We hear a lot about manhood. We hear a lot of phrases like “be a man” and “he’s the man” and “working for the man,” essentially referring to the machine, the higher political order. But I’ve never heard or thought of womanhood being anything like that. And maybe it isn’t. Actually, absolutely it isn’t. It’s something different altogether.
I’m getting into a lot of my own perception of what womanhood is, and what it means, (is it even real?), but for me, womanhood is synonymous with fighting. But not like, aries-men-are-from-mars fighting, but quiet strength. Being a woman is....nasty. I love that word and I love that fad. I felt like a Nasty Woman today. I felt like I had finally fought for something that should have been mine in the first place. I fought for fairness. I fought for equality.
And this is all a lot of drama surrounding myself simply multiplying my fifty dollar earning by two, due to a completely fair 100% valid request. But there’s something to be said for feeling like, for once, I had A) earned my money, earned it good and B) earned a fraction of the weighty and powerful title of “woman.”
Being a woman means so many things. And I don’t think it has anything to do with biology, or ovaries, or whatever. I think it has everything to do with attitude. It has everything to do with earning it. Being strong, especially when you are expected to be weak. Being brave in the absence of courage, and in the presence of fear; doing it anyway. Being a woman is about asking the right questions, not having all the answers (Please, dickheads, just ASK FOR DIRECTIONS). Being a woman is never being ashamed of how often, where, or in what circumstances you cry: it’s OK to be emotionally vulnerable. And to be open about it. It’s especially ok, encouraged even, to masterbate. It’s good to be equal to men, sure, but I would never actually wanted to be treated the same. I want to be treated equally, as a person, nay, as a human in the world, but I am a woman, not a man. I’m a woman, I’m different than you. I have boobs and I have ovaries, but more importantly, I have one hundred dollars instead of fifty.