Are you a woman if…

This is a longer version of an Instagram post that discusses gender – and specifically womanhood.

Are you a woman if…

…if you never could wear off-the-rack because your waist is exactly as wide as your hips, and there are no trousers in the world that fit that—any size? Not even leggings–and they’re supposed to fit everyone…

…if you never understand what your woman-friends are talking about, so you nod and pretend to belong?

…if you’ve never been catcalled or harassed…(nod)

…if no man ever asked for your phone number…(nod?)

…if you can post half-naked photos on the internet and nothing happens, while a female profile is (allegedly) enough for any other woman to be deluged with propositions — and worse…(nod?)

…if you don’t feel the waning attention as you grow older—because attention was always exactly zero (what are they talking about? Do people look at a woman when she enters a room? Do men look?)…um…nod?

…if you have a ton of male friends, no complications, because none of them was ever or could ever be attracted to you–the only complication being, of course, you falling in love with a man, in which case you’re not woman enough to actually receive reciprocation?

…if only one man–one person, unit–ever wanted you back. And it took sixteen years for him to finally show it, but you never left because you can’t risk losing the one man who isn’t averse to touching you, even if he chronically ignores you and makes your life misery?

…if you don’t know how make-up works and don’t understand its purpose…

…if you have all the right bits, but they are wrong, too—so your pregnancies were a nightmare, and you couldn’t give birth, and breast pumps never worked for you…

Are you a woman?

What is a woman?

Do I need to be one?

Do I not have enough sense of self to not have to define myself by society-defined words and concepts?

I am Ioanna. I am what you see. I am what you read. I am my books, and my art, and my bone-breakingly logical thinking. I’m my “too-sensitive” kids, the cooking and baking I love. The languages and the words. The dance and the solitude. The men I fell in love with, who could have had it all and chose not to. My degrees, my failed careers, my brashness and lack of tact. The love and caring I gift my friends. The solitude I need. The introversion.

I am not any one thing, and most certainly not what you understand as “woman.” This doesn’t describe me.

I am just…me.