In my novel Genuine Fraud, the con-artist kick-ass heroine (Jule) changes clothes in a Las Vegas bathroom. She emerges from the stall in a tight black dress, super-high heels and a red wig.
A former prostitute is eating a cheeseburger on the bathroom counter. The woman watches Jule put on a lot of cosmetics – foundation, shadow and liner, highlighter, lipstick. Jule stumbles a little on her way out. The high heels are unfamiliar. The woman remarks on the shoes: “It’s hard to be a woman, sometimes.” Jule replies: “Yeah, it pretty much sucks, except for the makeup.”
I am a feminist. I write feminist novels with twisty plots. Sometimes I feel like it does suck to be a woman. Other times it doesn’t suck, but it’s hard.
Nonetheless, I’m glad I am one. I am constantly amazed at the brilliant strength of the women in this world. On cheery days, I even find being a woman deliciously fun. In case you need a pick-me-up today, here are some reasons it’s good to be a woman:
- Makeup. Like Jule, I love it. Of course men can wear it, but not without challenging all kind of assumptions and dealing with a lot of difficult reactions. Women (if they want to) can indulge in play and glamour on a daily basis. Sparkles and red lips can change your sense of your self. They can change the way people react to you, and brighten your day.
- Friends. Of course this isn’t true for all women, but it’s true for a lot: your female friends get it. There’s a sense connection and loyalty, fun and intimacy. My squad has my back in a way that my male friends do not.
- Having babies. If you want to carry a child, it’s fairly likely that your body can do it. That’s a miracle of life on the planet.
- Dresses. They are more comfortable than pants and you don’t have to think about what to wear on top. Cooler in summer! Poor men. They could wear them of course, and maybe they will some day, but there still a lot of barriers.
- License to smell. Our society limits men in terms of how they can dress and what they can put on their faces – but it also limits how they can smell and still fit social norms. Women are free to indulge in a huge range of perfumes, soaps, shampoos and lotions - or to go natural.
- Flexibility. Of course there are many exceptions, but female bodies tend to stretch out more easily than men’s. Some scientists attribute it to a more bendy lower back. I am grateful for my flexibility every day when I do yoga.
- Solidarity. As a member of a still-underpaid, undervalued and often under-represented majority, there’s a great opportunity here: we can lift each other up. Recently, I have been looking for ways of connecting with women who are different to me. I want to be of use, and to learn from other women’s experience. At present, that means sourcing books for the Lower East Side Girls Club (girlsclub.org) , which supports the education and enrichment of young women, and supporting One.org’s Poverty Is Sexist campaign, which provides resources and education to girls worldwide. It also means conversations online and in person that give me an expanding understanding of what it is to be female and how we can pull together.
Of course there are many other reasons to be glad to be a woman. Many! These are just the ones I think about on an everyday basis. I try to remember them when I’m in a feminist rage. It helps.
I channel the rage into a twisty piece of fiction, put on my lipstick and perfume -- and head out to meet my squad and see what we can get done in the world.