What does it mean to be a woman?
This is a question that has plagued my mind since I was a child. I remember being told all the things that make you a woman—from changes in your body to changes in the types of clothing you wear to changes in your manners.
Being a woman was always considered to be a big deal.
As I’ve grown older, however, I’ve come to learn that there is far more to being a woman than just changes in your body, clothing, and manners. There is an essence of femininity that is unique and specific to all women. That essence is what some have called the “feminine genius.”
This is an elusive term. It is often accompanied by confusion and misunderstanding. What is this “feminine genius”? It is a mystery!
And rightly so! For mysteries are beautiful and lovely, and because they are mysteries they cannot ever be fully known, which is so brilliant. Mysterious things keep drawing us back—we can never solve the puzzle, but we so long to, so we keep returning to it to gain a deeper understanding. Femininity as a mystery completely makes sense.
But just because the “feminine genius” is a mystery doesn’t mean we can’t come to know and understand something about it. The feminine genius is simply living out the beauty and dignity of being who we are as women, but doing it in a specifically unique and distinct way. Are you ready to know what that way is? Brace yourself. You might not like it at first.
Oh yes, I just pulled out the Big M.
Before we all start jumping to conclusions that I am saying we are all made to be baby makers, let’s just take a second and look at what maternity is, and why it’s so special to woman.
First of all, all women—married or single—are called to be mothers in some capacity. This does not necessarily mean women are called to be physical mothers. Physical maternity comes with something specific: marriage. However, all women, married or not, are still called to be mothers in some way.
Well, if you can’t be a physical mom yet, what does that mean for you? Great question! Not-physical maternity is actually very similar to regular-physical maternity. It has similar qualities, but it looks different on all women. Each woman is called to live out her maternity in a way that is unique to her. For example, I am a teacher. I am a mother to my students by sharing my wisdom and knowledge with them, helping them to achieve success, and bringing joy and acceptance to them through my words and deeds. I am not a physical mother right now, so my current role in life is to fulfill that maternal quality that is specific to me as a woman by nurturing and caring for my students in the way that is most appropriate and needed given the situation.
The same goes for you, if you’re a woman. You could be a nurse—then you are to be a mother to your patients, caring for them and attending to their needs. Just like a woman who has children of her own to care for. Perhaps you are a woman who works in construction. You can be a mother by doing your job well: protecting those on the road, caring about their safety, and bringing joy and life to your coworkers by being happy being you. Loving yourself is more powerful than you may think. People notice. It doesn’t matter what your job is—there is always a way to be a woman, and specifically a mother, in your work.
It is interesting to note that we live in a society that presently crushes maternity. We have the pill, abortion, condoms, procedures, pornography, and more—all crushing the maternal quality of women, yet claiming to be bringing freedom to woman by giving her the ability to control and choose when and how she wants to be a mother.
True freedom doesn’t lie in control. It wouldn’t be called freedom if it was controlled. True freedom lies in knowing and understanding ourselves, our needs, and loving those things about ourselves, and using them in the proper manner.
Living out maternity means knowing and understanding that it simply means that women are called to bring forth life—in various ways by accepting and loving others for who they are, and if she is married and able, to physically have children as well. Living out maternity means knowing that bringing life is what woman is made for and able to do in such a unique and particular way. Our physical design tells us something about ourselves—that we are all made for motherhood.
Why maternity? Why is this what women are to live out?
Because only woman can be a mother. Only woman can house, cultivate, and grow life within her womb. Ultimately, only woman chooses to bring that life to fruition. Only woman chooses to be a mother. Men cannot physically be mothers. It’s impossible.
This, ladies, is the essence of the feminine genius. Embracing maternity, despite what society says, and living it out the way that our current state in life allows us to. It can change the world.
Ashley Ackerman is the daughter of two amazing parents, and older sister to two ridiculously cool siblings. She works as a high school teacher, and feels most like herself when she’s sharing her wisdom with her students. Occasionally, Ashley speaks about femininity and womanhood at various events, as well as writes super wordy blogs on her personal blog. She holds three college degrees because she couldn’t make up her mind for life at age 18, 22, or 23 (#reallifelessons). You can read more of Ashley’s blog posts by visiting her personal blog ackergirl.blogspot.com.