Emirates Woman - - Features/Just Saying -

ike ev­ery­one else, I was lured in by the drama of the Amer­i­can elec­tion cov­er­age. De­spite try­ing to avoid the worst com­ments I found my­self reach­ing for the sick bag along with the rest of the world at Don­ald Trump’s ‘locker room ban­ter,’ and then reach­ing for the pom-poms to cheer Michelle Obama’s fierce in­sis­tence that when it comes to sex­ist and preda­tory com­ments,“enough is enough.”

I hate the idea of ei­ther gen­der gath­er­ing in a se­cret hud­dle to ob­jec­tify the other. You miss so much when you re­duce one half of the world’s pop­u­la­tion to ob­jects, or sneer that peo­ple should just “look at her”, as if look­ing at some­one tells you any­thing im­por­tant about them. Why not sub­jec­tify the op­po­site sex in­stead? Iden­ti­fy­ing with each other as liv­ing, think­ing, laugh­ing equals.

Be­cause we’re more sim­i­lar than we are dif­fer­ent. Defin­ing ‘girl’ as the op­po­site of ‘boy’ makes it hard to de­scribe what it’s like to be a woman with­out ei­ther crit­i­cis­ing men or paint­ing women into a cor­ner. If men are strong, women must be weak. Or if women are car­ing, men must be mon­sters. If we stuff all women (or all men) in the same pi­geon­hole then we all suf­fo­cate. Bet­ter to let ev­ery­one be who­ever they want to be.

None of the women I know meet any def­i­ni­tion I’ve ever heard of 'woman'. They defy stereo­types and live as unique and com­plex in­di­vid­u­als. Women ex­ist as so many things to so many peo­ple: a man­ager and in­dus­try leader, but also a mother and a daugh­ter; au­thor­i­ta­tive and re­spected, but also artis­tic and fash­ionlov­ing; de­mand­ing and out­spo­ken, but also vul­ner­a­ble and car­ing.

It can be a strug­gle to feel good about all the con­flicts within us. Some­times it’s all too much, and we worry we might burst with the pres­sures of seem­ingly in­com­pat­i­ble de­sires and ex­pec­ta­tions. But women should be en­cour­aged not only to ac­cept, but also to cel­e­brate their mul­ti­ple iden­ti­ties. We need to un­der­stand there is no shame, and a lot to be proud of, when we refuse to choose and we em­brace all our selves.

So, I can spend years train­ing at univer­sity and still spend my time writ­ing sto­ries about naughty uni­corns and ex­plod­ing toi­lets. I can have an in­formed opin­ion on the world econ­omy and still per­form stand-up com­edy in a Bat­man mask. I can be a good mum and still need a hug my­self on bad days. I can fight for gen­der equal­ity and still love it when male friends of­fer to carry my bags. And I can write a col­umn about how aw­ful it is to ob­jec­tify the op­po­site sex and still get overex­cited be­cause Idris Elba has just ap­peared on the tele­vi­sion. I can be “a nasty woman” but I can also be nice. Be­cause that’s who I am. It’s good to be a woman. n

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