I’ve been a woman for a little over 50 years and have gotten over my initial astonishment. As for conducting an orchestra, that’s a job where I don’t think sex (gender) plays much part. Nadia Boulanger, conductor
Am I a woman?
No, I am not questioning my gender.
What I mean is…
Do I think of myself in that sense? Do I use that word, proudly, when referring to or even thinking of myself?
Growing up, I was your regular tomboy. I did not play girl games, nor own dolls after the age of 5. I did not wear dresses unless I was dragged to a wedding or a family function. I did not like to let me hair grow long. Come to think of it, I did not have many girl friends all the way through college. I did not wear makeup. Umm… I did not own makeup was more like it. I viewed the attempts of some girls to be understanding, cute, feminine, compassionate, and my best-friends to be a true testament to the shallowness of women. I used to pride myself on the fact that I talk like men, think like they do, and even shop like they do (Go to the mall – Enter only one store -Buy what I need – Get out in less than 30 minutes)
However, as fate would have it, I grew out of it.
I learnt to embrace who I am. It was very strange being aware of the fact that I am now proud to be a woman. Actually I am thankful to be a woman. Wait… I am thrilled to be a woman.
I learnt that being a woman does not mean that I have to talk too much, wear makeup, alienate myself from my beliefs and causes or oooh and aaaah over every passing baby (I mean, really… Leave the babies and their mothers alone for God’s sake!!!!)
I began to realise that I was force-fed an idea of what makes a woman. I realise now, sadly, that pop-culture has had a huge impact on shaping my ideals and notions on many gender-related concepts. I never thought that I would be a poster-image of the magnitude of damage pop-culture (stereotypical, negative, untrue, agenda-based and sexist) can have on one’s life.
I was blown away by the recognition that I let myself be manipulated and ashamed of who I was. I kid you not!!!!! I was furious and shocked at how much I have missed out on.
So, I did what I thought was the only right thing to do in light of the circumstances; I went back to my most trusted reference, my belief system.
What do I know of how Allah (swt) views women? How did Allah (swt) refer to us in the Qur’an? Were we viewed as shallow beings? Were we viewed as objects of enjoyment? Were we viewed merely as mothers? Wives?
Answers to those questions have filled volumes of books. I will not attempt to further educate myself or you (who I am sure are all more knowledgeable than yours truly) on the empowerment of women in Islam.
I have seen too much not to know that the impression of a woman may be more valuable than the conclusion of an analytical reasoner. Sir, Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of SHerlock Holmes
“O mankind, We have created you a male and female, and appointed you races and tribes, that you may know one another” (Qur’an. Translation of the meaning of Sura al-Hujurat # 49. Verse # 13)