The Weight of Being a Woman

There are days I cannot breath as a woman. The weight of my sex is so heavy within me it’s surprising I can walk or talk. Every exhale is labored. Every inhale like breathing under water. The weight of being nothing but an ‘also ran’ is constantly with me. We are attached, me and this Siamese twin of otherness.

For me this is what it feels like to be a woman at times: the pressure in my chest blossoms into fury, and yet I know there is nowhere for that outward spray to go, and so two thousand years of history sits in the middle of my chest. The whole thing is almost impossible to move except in the tiniest of increments so you can suck enough air to keep you alive.

It’s exhausting.

It is exhausting knowing deep down in my bone marrow no matter what I do, no matter how hard I work, how much I learn, I will always be seen as second best by people who consider themselves best for no legitimate reason other than they’ve always been told they are. I will almost always have a qualifier in front of my name, an extra “W” for Woman added. Almost everything I do will be measured from a yardstick of maledom. It is exhausting to remind myself that I should not let that dictate what I do or do not do.

I try.

The weight of being a woman is trying to dispel the suspicion that the entire world is set up not only to facilitate my failure, but to take joy in it.

The weight of being a woman is the near constant battle of internal and external. The internal does not feel any different, no better than or less than, but the world around me screams something very different. The outer world does not match my inner world. It’s a constant battle to maintain equilibrium.

It weighs on me. As a woman.

I wonder, do some think a woman arises from her bed in the morning, groggy with sleep and warmth, feeling as if she is naturally less than a man? Do some assume women wear a sense of inferiority like a second skin? Burrow into it like a rabbit warren? Do some think women simply accept a notion of less as point of fact?

The weight of being a woman is fighting that notion, with nail and claw and written word, some days with nearly every breath I struggle to take.

I am not tired of being a woman. I am tired of being a woman in this world. I am tired of arguing for legitimacy, as if the possession of ovaries instead of testicles automatically confers something I am blind, deaf, and dumb to. I am tired of having an identifier attached to my name. I am tired of being a derivative. I am tired of being half the yardstick. I am tired of explaining how the system is set up against me, against my sisters, to people whom the system most benefits.

The weight of being a woman is sometimes simply the sheer exhaustion of being nice. It is exhausting feigning polite merely to survive, constantly calculating risk, managing the way I walk through life. It is exhausting not trusting that there are people who have your best interests at heart, to wonder if they are not simply waiting in the wings in some sort of sexist ambush. It is exhausting trying to squeeze into the idea of feminine when everything within me overflows those boundaries.

The weight of being a woman is the tangible weight of pregnancies and infants on hip, of petticoats and bustles, layer upon layer upon layer of veil to mask us from ourselves, from the world.

The weight of a woman is the exhaustion of navigating the world with a currency of sexuality in your pocket. A currency given to me before I was old enough to use it or save it or spend it. A currency which is practically worthless now that I am of a certain age. Spent now, nothing left though my pockets still feel plenty heavy to me.

The weight of being a woman is watching young girls navigate their way through this mine field, knowing exactly where the detonating points are. Warning them will have no effect. It will take years of constant subtle–and not so subtle– explosions to convince them.

I want to take them aside and tell them about this weight, this weight of being a woman, but they will dismiss me as nothing more than an old crank. Halfway to crone. Worldly womanly wisdom is not yet discernible in a wrinkled jowl or a head of white.

I’m not a kindly oldening woman offering sage advice.

I am a vortex of rage. An eddy of emotion, whipped frustration and just sheer exhaustion. Exhausted by the weight of being a woman.

The weight of a woman is trying to explain this, all of it invisible to everyone but those who carry it around with them, every day, everywhere they go.

There are days I cannot breathe as a woman.

Today is one of those days.



15 Comments Add yours

  1. It’s a well written post.

    I had to change my whole mindset, place myself in a state of receiving and enjoying everything womanhood offers. I had to start asking, “who told me that being a woman was a heavy weight and why did I allow those voices to get into my head?”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dina Honour says:

      There is a lot of truth to that. On a good day, I allow the internal to win. On a bad day, I fume. Ok, I rage.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s crazy that we face so much disadvantages right from the very beginning. Just because we were born female. On days like the one you were having, I just marvel at how much of a man’s world it really is and I fume at the injustice of it all. Because we can say that we all have equal opportunities as citizens of this planet but when you look at it closely, you begin to see how untrue this is. I was going to say that hopefully it changes but hope has never changed anything by what now?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dina Honour says:

      When I figure out the ‘now what?’ part, I’ll let you know. Because I don’t know. And that’s part of the exhaustion of the whole process.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “… the entire world is set up not only to facilitate my failure, but to take joy in it.”

    I weep for the truth in that line.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dina Honour says:

      It’s a harrowing realization. And it hurts. And it weighs A LOT.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Shanna S Mathews Mendez says:

    beautiful rage. I’m with you sister.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dina Honour says:

      Thank you, Shanna. Stronger together.


  5. Liu Min says:

    A very beautiful and well-written post! But I love being a woman.:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dina Honour says:

      Oh, I do too. I just find it incredibly exhaust trying to balance how I feel with how society views me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Liu Min says:

        Hope all is doing well in your life. I really enjoy your writing! Look forward to more of your posts. 🙂


  6. beautifully written!! this totally spoke to my soul! some days are just ROUGH.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dina Honour says:

      Yup. Somedays I feel like I am strong enough to stand above it all and let it fall from my shoulders. Other days I want to weep with it all. ON the best days there is a balance of sorts.


  7. At the risk of coming across as an unfeeling (male) clod, Dina, may I suggest a somewhat different perspective? Everything you say in your piece is true. And yet, there are further layers to this truth that can be explored. It is also, for example, true that we are all born with the inevitable truth that we will all die. And in between the little space of living, between birth and death, we live and create meaning for our lives and for ourselves. Each of us creates our own reality in how we respond to the stuff the world throws in our direction. Part of that process of creation is the result of our conscious choices. Anger is a choice. So is happiness. Both can come from the same objective set of facts of existence. However, one is linked to a world that exists in our mind where we have clear ideas of how we think the world SHOULD work, and we feel anger that things are NOT working that way.

    Some of us did not (and do not) have the luxury of imagining a better world. If one is a child in Cambodia in the time of Pol Pot, or in a Yazidi village with ISIS coming, or in Sudan as a member of the Birgio tribe during the Darfur war, one has very little hope of a better world – one has to survive. If one has been fortunate already, and was born into a stable society with some elements of law and order, then it is possible to conceive of a better world. For most of us who are privileged to live in a western society, we have the luxury of contemplating a world of aspiration and worth, and getting upset when we see injustice and inequality. Bad things still happen to people in such a western society, but these things tend to be the exception, not the daily rule.

    I take a lot of inspiration from my maternal grandmother, who started her life in luxury and privilege, lost much of her extended family to executions during a revolution, became a landless peasant, yet somehow managed to create a family, lived through a world war and forced flight of several thousand miles, somehow survived bombings, and famine and post-war chaos, and after a decade of displacement, eventually ended up in a western country as an economic refugee. She died at the age of 98, having seen her children survive and prosper, have families of their own, and seeing the births of great-grandchildren. My grandmother raised me during my early years, as my parents were too busy working during the day at whatever job they could find as immigrants, and studying during the night to get the credentials to a better life. She taught me that one has to persevere, no matter how hopeless the situation may appear. She taught me to be thankful for all that we are able to have, and not to take much for granted. She reminded me that stability is an illusion and things can go wrong very, very quickly, so not to be too attached to things or status.

    So when someone implies to me that a “woman” is somehow not capable, or has a lesser value because she is a woman, I think of the woman who made so much in my life possible. I think of my mother, who was a child through some of those very difficult times, and of the work that she put into creating a better world for me. And those are the lessons that I try to impart to my own daughters – that while the world can be a hard, unfair, and very unforgiving place, that they can and will create a better world by their efforts and will. And during those times, to remember to be happy that we have, against so many odds, managed to actually do very, very well.

    Liked by 1 person

Talk to me, Goose.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.