I inherited many beliefs about what makes a woman “good.”
I learned that a good girl should be compliant at home and school. She should be ambitious but not too ambitious. A good woman goes to college and gets a steady, practical job to support herself and her future family.
More important than work and education, though, a good woman should dedicate herself to attracting a financially stable partner with “would be such a good dad” potential. She should change her body, her words, her identity to attract someone who checks all the boxes. She says “I do.”
Then comes motherhood, where a good woman should be fulfilled by her family alone. Infertility is the ultimate shame because good women procreate. Of course, they would never, ever choose childlessness. That would be selfish, and a good woman is never selfish.
A good woman shrinks. She does not want. She does not need. She gives.
A good woman disappears.
I absorbed these lessons. I got the husband, the house, the kids, the job. I performed and pleased my way to this so-called American ideal, only to look back in a moment of breaking and wonder if I ever wanted any of that in the first place.
I felt confused. I had it all. I should be happier. Why was I so unsatisfied?
Earnestly, desperately, I asked myself: Do I even want to be married? To have kids? To teach? What else have I been “should”ing? These roles I’ve built my entire identity around – do I actually even want them?
A good woman shouldn’t ask herself these questions, I thought.
But maybe I’m done being a good woman.
I want to be married. But I want to be whole – not another half.
I want my children. But my dreams don’t belong permanently on the back burner.
I want to teach. But with boundaries.
I want to be a good woman. But not under its current functioning definition.
Sisters, daughters, mothers, friends – we must dismantle the narrative of what makes a woman good. These cages are getting cramped.
Let’s forgive ourselves for “should”ing and pursue our joy shamelessly. We are done settling for being liked – we demand belonging, as our needy, imperfect selves.
Women with the audacity to ask themselves what they want and the courage to answer honestly are the changemakers, the patriarchy shakers, the cycle breakers.
We are here. Change is coming.
WOW. Just wow!!!! What an empowering post!!
Sooo good! I’m sharing this with my women’s group.
Okay I’m ready to read your book about women empowerment! This was so well written.
This! YESSSS. ALLL IF THIS. I can feel the real.