What is a “real woman”

What is a “real woman”

Every Women’s Month we are reminded – more than usual – how we as women need to stand up and rise. How us as women should go for our goals and dreams. How we should all stand up for one another and empower each other. We are reminded of the current femicide; the gender inequality that we face and the sexual violence and attacks on us women and on children. It’s amazing to see how more and more women do indeed embrace themselves and start standing up for one another. From a personal point of view I’ve always felt that we can all win. There is no “competition”.

Over the last little while I have however noticed how easy it is for women to throw around the “men-are-trash” terms and love to jump onto that bandwagon when it suits them; however some of the same women would post: “A real women would never…” or the whole body-shaming and slut-shaming thing. One can only deduct that this type of opinions would certainly be of those how have not felt adequate enough or perhaps even insecure themselves. I’d really love to know how any of these ladies actually stand up for other women and cheer for them – regardless if it’s something they would personally do or not do.

I find it ironic how many of these ladies demand respect and recognition for being a Queen. For being empowered and independent; yet have no problem pointing out the unruliness of another empowered woman. When another woman’s courage becomes a “vanity” problem; or someone’s self-confidence is suddenly highlighted as “no self-respect”. Earlier this evening I read on a lady’s post that “real women do not need the validation from other people, therefore, they do not seek attention by wearing little clothing”. Is that not just loaded with “I wish I could be brave enough to dress whichever way I want to and not care what others think whilst winning”?

This leads me to the two questions: 1. Since when has the amount of clothing made you more or less successful invalidating your own feelings or your self worth? 2. How does the amount of clothing you wear or the amount of skin make you less or more valuable as an individual? How does said woman praise and shout for women empowerment yet at the same time shoot any lady down that shows a little more skin than she would dare? This also sounds like the very same woman that may just say that the amount of clothing you wear would be equal to the amount of respect you earn/deserve.

Recently I have discussed the numbers of women who are raped in South Africa per annum (note that due to the number of cases that are not reported; it is not possible to give a correct number of possible rapes per hour/day/month/year) and consequently to that the number of gender-based violence.

Population-based surveys show very high levels of intimate partner violence (IPV) and non-partner sexual violence (SV) in particular, with IPV being the most common form of violence against women.

  • Whilst people of all genders perpetrate and experience intimate partner and or sexual violence, men are most often the perpetrators and women and children the victims
  • More than half of all the women murdered (56%) in 2009 were killed by an intimate male partner
  • Between 25% and 40% of South African women have experienced sexual and/or physical IPV (intimate partner violence) in their lifetime
  • Just under 50% of women report having ever experienced emotional or economic abuse at the hands of their intimate partners in their lifetime
  • Prevalence estimates of rape in South Africa range between 12% and 28% of women ever reporting being raped in their lifetime
  • Between 28 and 37% of adult men report having raped a woman
  • Non-partner SV is particularly common, but reporting to the police is very low. One study found that one in 13 women in Gauteng had reported non-partner rape, and only one in 25 ┬árapes had been reported to the police
  • South Africa also faces a high prevalence of gang rape
  • Most men who rape do so for the first time as teenagers and almost all men who ever rape do so by their mid-20s
  • There is limited research into rape targeting women who have sex with women. One study across four Southern African countries, including South Africa, found that 31.1% of women reported having experienced forced sex
  • Male victims of rape are another under-studied group. One survey in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape found that 9.6% of men reported having experienced sexual victimisation by another man

What the stats above do not show are the number of women who are verbally or psychologically abused by other women. How people are targeted, bullied and called out on social media for the way they live their life or for what they choose to post about themselves on social media. How women would rather band together and stand up with other men; slut-shaming women who post selfies and/or “sexy” images on social media, than standing up for those women. It’s easy to say “men-are-trash” when a guy makes a funny by posting a “women belong in the kitchen” joke, yet it is okay to agree with the same guy calling out another woman who has found self-confidence and enjoys posting about herself/her outfit/her weight gain or loss/her sock and shoes/the food she eats/the competition she took part in etc etc. One of the latest repetitive posts I see is “I’m so tired of all these selfies with quotes and all you see is bum and boobs” or “show me a real woman who does not feel like she needs validation or attention from the whole world by showing off her body”. What does that even mean? What makes a woman a “real” woman?

I feel our country specifically is facing a tough time. Apart from the global economical damage that we are facing, the all-time high unemployment rate that is continually rising and our own government’s crimes and corruption; we are facing a particular tricky era where we as women are rising. Standing up against the oppression of what our fore-mothers faced. We are in an incredible era where we as women have more of a voice than ever before. Yet here you are, spitting on another queen who’s rising in her own time on her own terms in her own way. Standing with all the aggression against other women. What kind of empowerment are you after? Why demand equality, justice and empowerment when you stand up and laugh other women down. Calling them out for believing in themselves? Knocking them down for owning who they are? What is a “real woman”? One who can clap for another woman, without judgement, without malice and without misogyny.