Women: A spectrum of definitions

July 6, 2017

A mural in The Castro district depicts an African-American woman with the Pride colors around her. There isn’t much visibility around LGBTQ+ activists of color. (Photo: Alexandra Christophilis)


hat defines a woman?  Is it their beauty and elegance? The perfect curls in their hair or the highlight smeared on their cheekbones.


Is it their rank? The ability for them to voice their beliefs without being belittled.


Or is it the way their body was created?


Since the 50s, women’s faces have been plastered on advertisements that mock their capabilities outside of the kitchen. These advertisements transition into daily conversations where others find it acceptable to go along with the tease. A basic woman stereotype has been born into society. It’s evolving into a sick reality of women’s standards regarding how they should look, act, or feel. Others take the stereotype and apply it to the way they choose to treat women which can be harmful or insulting.


“We can dress well, we have fashion, we can use makeup, we know how to cook, and we can help others,” said Erlinda Gain, a woman visiting The Castro Wednesday, July 5. There is a common misconception that women cannot be financially independent. They are stereotyped to stay home, clean, cook, and sit pretty.


The stereotype tends to trickle into the workplace and dampen a woman’s potential. Women are underestimated and earning respect is a challenge. Tony Sce, a bike messenger in The Castro, shared his close friend’s experience in a new workplace.


“She feels that it’s harder for women in the workplace to get respect as a boss,” he said, “that they’re questioned more and not respected as much.” Sce mentioned that as an inspirational gift he bought her a pin that read “Girl Boss” so she would feel more confident and empowered.


Fox Allamaya sat with Sce on a picnic blanket in Dolores Park. He blocked the sun out of his eyes as he brought up a new perspective on the issue. “Some people see on the spectrum of gender that they identify strongly with the gender that they were born into, based on the cultural role,” he said.


LGBTQ+ communities, specifically transgenders, are crushing the barrier of the woman stereotype. The label of being a woman can no longer be based on the way a body was created. Trans women define themselves through their own personal attributes, not their biological sex.


“There’s certain womanliness to all of us,” Sce said, touching on the idea that gender is fluid and what is feminine is acceptable and good, even though in society it is usually treated with negative connotations.


The definition of a woman is being shaped by individuals from unique cultures and backgrounds. There are women who teach their children how to treat others. There are women who ride a train every morning in pantsuits. There are women who are shaking their finger at the woman stereotype and are striving to earn the respect they deserve.


Justin Bishop-William and Domonique Jimerson happened to be having breakfast in The Castro that morning. Staring into his girlfriend’s eyes, William’s definition rolled right off his tongue, “caring, passionate, and beautiful.” Jimerson smiled before she answered in contrast, “I don’t think there’s necessarily any characteristics of a person that makes someone a woman.”


Women define themselves.



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