Trying to Give Advice to All Women Is Not Really Possible
HuffPost recently published a piece on the website titled, “23 Things Every Woman Should Stop Doing.” Some of these things, like “comparing your real life to someone else’s virtual one” or “being embarrassed by your interests” should be filed under Things Everyone Should Stop Doing while others such as “wearing heels every day” are so specific I wonder how they made the list of top 23.
And then there are a few that are just weird. “WebMD-ing everything,” really? Every woman is a hypochondriac? I'll go out on a limb here and say that if that's the experience you're having in your circle of friends, you might be hanging out with some very strange people. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; one of the things on the list is that we should stop “fearing the label ‘crazy.’” (Then again, so should men. More crazy for everyone!)
Of course, this is not the only such list to ever appear on the Internet. There are hundreds of lists of "Things Women Should Know," or "Things Women Should Learn" or any number of other bits of advice, even "Things Every Woman Should Have In Her Purse". This list here of "Things Women Should Never, Ever Do" is all about make-up imperatives and relationship tips. This list of "Things Women Should Do Everyday" includes brushing your teeth. And who could ever forget Eddie Cuffin's "Things Women Need to Realize in 2013" list that starts with "limit your selfies" goes on to include "'I was so drunk' is no longer a legitimate excuse to be reckless" and ends at long last with an order to "have more orgasms."
The real trouble though is not with any list in particular per se (though I might make an exception for Cuffin). Rather, it's the simple fact that to compile a list like this, you need to in some way define womanhood, to make an assumption about how all women operate. For the HuffPo list, the assumption seems to be that we are all obsessive, perfectionist types who need to be given a chill pill. For Eddie Cuffin, it's that we are all obnoxious, insecure, party animals with no common sense or right to be seen as people. But no matter what the assumption, whether it's that all women are selfless and nurturing or that we're weak willed and air-headed, every assumption is inherently sexist.
Women do not live their lives in any one specific way or have one specific outlook. Women cannot be reduced to any framework. A definition of womanhood does not exist (pay no attention to Dictionary.com). You cannot ever write something that will adequately apply to half the planet.
In the end, women are too diverse to be lumped together and put into one box. And if I were to ever try to give advice to all women everywhere it would be to never let anyone decide for you what your gender does or doesn’t mean. Not me, not anyone, but you.