“One is not born a woman, but rather becomes a woman.”
Simone De Beauvoir
Is my writing affected by being a woman, by my environment making me a woman? Of course, it is. I have never experienced the world as anything but a female human being. In her twenties, Beauvoir thought of herself as just a person, not shaped by being a woman. It was only as she began thinking of writing a memoir, that on Satre’s suggestion, she began reviewing her life as affected by her gender and that is what prompted the writing of The Second Sex.
I write sitting at my kitchen table. My world revolves around my kitchen table. Is this where and how I would have written had I been a man? How much of this is by my own choice and how much of it is a result of growing up watching my mother, my grandmother, my great grandmother living lives which revolved around their kitchens?
I take pride in my home. I take pride in my family. I take pride in providing meals for them. I take pride in the care I give. I take pride in my writing, but the latter always comes a poor second to my family, my home, and my kitchen.
Where would I be, if it was the other way around? Would my writing shine at the cost of my family? Because there is always a cost to everything and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. There are 24 hours in a day and choices have to be made regarding how those hours are spent, and it is those choices which determine what your priorities are, and where you will excel.
Why do some men get to shine in their careers? Because those men made a choice to devote themselves with a single focus to their work, while their female counterparts were juggling work, home, kids, and aging parents, and balancing a bucket full of guilt on their heads.
And this is a knife that cuts both ways. Men are always under pressure to perform well at work, judged by their careers, and their ability to provide.
Women are patted on the back for good housekeeping and good mothering, and judged for falling back on these roles.
I hear people insist that men and women are different. Sure, they are different. But those differences should not be forced ones and those gender roles absolutely must have overlap because as cheesy as it sounds, there is a man in every woman and a woman in every man.