First, I need to qualify this question… I'm talking about the experience of being a woman, the sense of identity that may or may not arise from being female.
And secondly, I'm asking the question because I don't know. There are countless answers, as many as there are individuals, but I don't have mine.
I had a conversation with a lovely twentysomething woman today. I'd talked to her about my project and our subsequent chat went something like this…
Me: So what do you think it means to be a woman?
Her: I don't know really. You'd probably speak to some people and they'd be able to give you an answer though..
M: What does it mean to you to be a woman?
H: I haven't really thought about it…
M: Maybe it doesn't matter?
H: No. Maybe it doesn't.
M: Would you rather be a bloke?
H: (without hesitation). No. Don't know why though…
When the simple fact of being a woman has such powerful social, cultural, professional, economic and sexual implications; when we discuss at length the way women are presented and represented in the media, in society, within the family dynamic, on the catwalk, in politics, why isn't there more clarity about what this means subjectively?
Where's the curiosity, the compulsion that asks: 'Where do I fit into this debate? What does this mean for me, the way I live and my sense of self?
How many beliefs, assumptions and expectations do I have and hold onto subconsciously because I am a woman? How much does my female status impact on my sense of personal value and self-esteem? How does being a woman affect my confidence, sexual identity and measure of achievement? Where, who and what are my benchmarks?
Scientists decoding the human genome have discovered that 78 genes separate men from women and it's the absence of the Y chromosome that makes all the difference. But my experience of being a woman isn't about not being a man - and for the next 29 days, I don't intend to play spot the difference.
My aim is simply to explore the journeys women take (myself included) to attain a sense of their female self - and to celebrate a little bit of what being a woman might be about.
With this in mind, tomorrow's tantric workshop could be interesting...