What Makes a Woman?

Not long ago, I found myself in conversation with one of these moronic misogynistic types that make you wonder why they are actually heterosexual as they seem to have nothing but disdain for women. (Don’t ask, it was both our first and last conversation). However, imagine my surprise when I found myself agreeing with something he had to say.

Though he spewed a significant amount of nonsense, the point that raised my hackles was his disdain for women who dare to be over a size 12. Of course, I should have ignored him, but I can’t help myself in that type of situation. Anyway, while trying to defend himself from my verbal onslaught, he confirmed the reaction he often gets when revealing his opinion to women over size 12: he was often told that it was because he couldn’t handle a real woman.

According to him, this meant that any woman of a smaller size wasn’t a real woman—which is ridiculous. This is the only point on which Mr Moron and I agreed.

If I was to do a survey with the post title being the only question, I know I would get a whole range of answers. Certainly not, she has to be over a certain dress size.

Men and their maddening opinions may be bad, but somehow – in some circumstances – women can be worse.

Recently, a woman justified her need for a boob job because she was jealous of women with bigger breasts than her, who she considered real women while she wasn’t. I do wonder what she was instead—android? alien? male? When you think about it, you recognise how ridiculous the idea is.

Others are of the opinion that one can only become a woman on having a child. Really? I don’t know about you, but I can still distinguish a woman from a man whether or not she has a child. In reality, this type of mindset is borne out of a need to feel superior.

Maybe it is that we are just a bit too flippant in the way we speak, but shouldn’t be used as an excuse because this doesn’t diminish the consequences. We end up in a situation where anyone who doesn’t fit a certain mould is less of a woman.

Attempting to justify a situation or making yourself feel better by putting others down is abhorrent. Not least because a woman is a woman no matter what she does or what she looks like. Chromosomes don’t change, so while the contestants of RuPaul’s Drag Race look fantastic after their transformations, they can’t truly be called women. Those born female can.      

I invite you to offer an answer to the question of the post title. While it may be impossible to answer succinctly (Alanis Morissette’s ‘I’m a bitch, I’m a lover’ comes to mind) that is a small price to pay to avoid sweeping generalisations.



  1. I’m friends with some wonderful women who happen to have both breasts and penises. I’m also friends with women who had their breasts removed due to cancer. And still yet I have friends who are women who have no desire for children, or cannot reproduce.

    People are pretty limited in this culture when it comes to gender, and it’s both crippling and sickening.

    • This is my problem, Adrianne. I sometimes wonder whether I’m losing my mind when other people make these ridiculous judgements, whereas my reaction is ‘so what?’ I’m very much a believer in ‘each to their own’ and about having no right to judge others. Unfortunately, others don’t see it that way.

  2. First of all, I AGREE that a lot of the crap people assign as “real woman” is idiotic. Not only are small women “real women,” but so are large women. I have wanted to crack a few idiots upside the head that seem to think women stop being women when they are OVER a size 12. Grow up. Really.

    No, you don’t have to have a child to be a real woman. I know plenty of adoptive mothers that are undeniably women. I know several women that medically cannot have children and are. I know some that choose not to have children, because they know they would not make good parents. Clue arriving. Not every woman in the world is a mother, and with our overpopulation, why should they be?

    You don’t have to have a D or larger cup size to be a woman. One of my mother’s friends only had a chest at all (A cup at that) when she was nursing children, but she was a real woman and delivered four children into this world.

    But I’ll take this a step further. You don’t even have to be FEMALE to be a woman…and being FEMALE doesn’t necessarily make you a woman. Let me explain.

    “Woman is a state of mind, not a biological condition or genetic marker or any other guideline you can come up with.” Say that one with me. I’ve met a few genetic females that would crack you upside the head for calling them women. I’ve met a few genetic males that would give their right…whatever body part we’re going with here…to have someone recognize them as women, whether they want a sex change operation or not.

    I’ve gone out and found a masculine backpack embroidered with “Daddy’s Little Girl” in Navy, beige, and brick for one female of a lesbian couple, because his (preferred pronoun for the individual, so I comply out of respect) wife complained that she couldn’t get Daddy to carry a diaper bag, because they were all too girly. Would you call Daddy a woman? I hope not.

    I also know a few males that prefer a female identity. Some wear women’s clothing (at least part of the time). Some do not, but all of them believe themselves women. If they do not identify as men, what is the harm in allowing them a personal identity as a woman? Who does it hurt? No one, IMO.

    There are a lot of people out there that are wearing blinders to personal gender identity, and that’s sad. There are a lot of people out there that feel it is their right to externally label people and make it stick. Also sad. Let’s face it. No matter what labels you give an individual, they will only stick if the individual wants them to.

    Obviously, without knowing personal choice on the matter, I might screw up and call a female that identifies himself as male a woman (or vice versa), but there’s where we leave the realm of “real woman.” A female that does not identify himself as a woman is not a “real woman,” because the self-image is not there. If the individual does not identify himself as a woman, I am certain he will tell me so, and I will be mindful to respect his personal choice in the future.

    Other than that, it’s no one’s business to try and pigeonhole people into sexes and set qualifying markers on who is or is not a “real” [name your sex].


    • An, Brenna, a woman after my own heart! As a society, we seem to be creating a complex issue where there doesn’t need to be one. I am getting quite sick of the large number of TV programmes and talk shows that purport to demonstrate something startling when – in fact – what you get is something that can’t be found in the glossy mags. The sooner everyone realises we are not all from the same mould, the better.

  3. The problem arises because many women have a negative self-image. Women who are heavy feel a need to put slender women down because the media and the society at large have glorified the petite and svelte as the ideal. To make themselves feel better, women who have been put down because of weight then put others down. Women who “need” a boob job are also the victims of skewed thinking as presented in our culture. Perky breasts and flat bellies are the ideal; consequently, we have young girls wanting breast implants. Similarly, motherhood is glorified as the ideal. Women who cannot have children or who elect not to do so are seen as “less” than those who do. I worked with a woman who tortured herself about having children. Her inability to do so almost drove her mad and ruined her marriage. Many of us have been brainwashed by these cultural norms.

    • I completely agree, Viola. The images we are continually bombarded with can put anyone’s self esteem to the test. Not falling into any of the ‘norms’, I used to massively resent people’s judgement, before I had an ephiphany and thought ‘screw em!’ (I truly am a lady!)

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