Recently my roommate asked me if, when I’m talking about myself, whether I refer to myself as a girl or as a woman. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, too. Girl. Always, but I’m trying to start thinking and saying woman more and more. My roommate says she doesn’t want to be called a woman because it sounds too stern and boring. I say that I do want to because I believe we are free to bring our own definitions to the label.
I am a woman, although I still get carded at every drinking establishment and, earlier this year, at an R-rated movie. I meet people and, if we talk about Vegas, they say I don’t look old enough to gamble. If I order food at a bar they say I don’t look old enough to be in there. I am a woman. I’ve been old enough to be in there for almost a decade. I’ve lived so many lives, more than most of those who say I’m not enough.
I wasn’t always ready to be called a woman, but I’m ready now. It’s kind of like at the ski rental office when I have to indicate whether I’m Level I Beginner, Level II Intermediate, or Level III Advanced, and the guy at the counter asks what he should put down for me. I am uncomfortable calling myself Level III Advanced just like I am uncomfortable saying “Hey, listen to me, I am a woman.” Of course I’m Level III Advanced. I have been skiing every winter for my entire life. But I can’t say it because I don’t want to seem like a show off to the counter guy. Or I worry that if I say it, then I might go out and fall and someone will think, “Wow look at this Level II Intermediate who dared to say that she was Level III Advanced.” I can’t remember the last time that I’ve fallen on skis, but this seems like a very real possibility.
It’s kind of like when a 40-something male passenger in my Uber asks if I want to go into the restaurant and have a drink with him. I decline, and he asks if I have a boyfriend. I respond that if I had a boyfriend I probably wouldn’t be driving for Uber at 9pm on a Friday night. He asks if I’m a girl who likes boys or a girl who likes girls. I let him out and say have a nice night. I am neither. I am a woman.