It took me ages to become a woman. Through my 20s and early 30s I’d hear females, my age and younger, describe themselves breezily as women and I’d be dazzled. We are technically adults at 18 but bah! I wasn’t and couldn’t be hurried. For the longest time I referred to myself as a chick because I wanted a word between girl and woman.
The woman thing made more sense after I read some Woolf “one is not born but becomes a woman”. In this I read I’d be one when I got there. I would make of myself some account by speaking after I’d accrued some things to say. In all fairness I think this stands for men too but having never been one, I’d not know.
Obvs I was socially there a long time before I arrived but when ‘women’ did fit me, I sat down and wrote a little list. My qualifiers were solemn as well as silly because that’s how I think.
1. Sarcasm is a choice not a reflex
2. My job is not my career
3. Hurt people hurt people
4. Domestic hygiene is a relationship deal breaker
5. Hair is not
6. Sport, meh
7. Diet coke is not a food group
8. My imagination is a resource not a refuge
9. I buy new bras before they become unmanageable
10. I spotted a handsome boy on the tube/tram and hoped he has something warmer than that to wear
11. The hot chip is the culinary pinnacle of human achievement: fact
12. The male gaze… does not define me
13. I’ll never be good at drinking no matter how much I practise
14. I accept Simon Le Bon’s decision to marry Yasmin
15. In 1986.
16. I am not my weight
17. The majority of my conversations happen
18. I have a death stare.
I wondered about my construct and what assumptions I’d hid in its coding. How I had come to them. Then my Mum said something and it clicked…
I was moving and Mum had come to stay to help me. On night two she tried to cook dinner. No easy task in a kitchen-mine. I don’t cook, I arrange. Having managed to cobble something together from a saucepan and its lid, Chef Mumsie was stymied by my lack of ‘stuff’ to serve it on. I own plates and things, a mixing bowl and some desultory Tuppaware but no fancy platter, tureen, pitcher, boat, ceramic vessel or casserole thingie, egads!
‘Oh Daughter’ Mama cried crossly, ‘You don’t live here, you camp here!’
Boom. Arm doors and cross check. That was it! I realized that in my mind I had got to a place where being a woman meant owning two sets of things; the everyday and posh. Be it knickers, cutlery or children, in my making of woman, I had downloaded my mother.
It was ever thus.