What experiences define a woman’s life? The answer is all of them. Why should a woman’s defining life moments be any different than everyone else’s? A woman will have her life defined by experiences that are not exclusive to any one group. The spectrum of human emotion is not foreign to any member of the race and likewise each case of defining experiences should inevitably be unique to the individual and their life. Anger, love, oppression, happiness, sadness, these are all things that are felt by women and are a byproduct of their humanity.
I feel like there is this stereotype out there in society about which experiences women feel. As if they should only be content to be defined by tradition rather than exploring their own being. For instance, in the story of the Mirabal sisters “In the Time of the Butterflies” Minerva aspires to be a lawyer so that she may fight for justice and right what she perceives to be the wrongs perpetrated against the people by the Trujillo regime, contrary to her sister whom is rather content to be a simple housewife. Now there is nothing wrong with the choice of stay at home mother however, it is certainly not the only choice and Minerva’s choice would equally define her as a woman.
It is just like that old saying ‘life is what you make it’, there is no cookie cutter example of what is and what is not, a defining moment in the lives of women. To make the claim that only one set of experiences can lead to successful womanhood is to take away the freedom of the individual and continue the viscous cycle of oppression in which women have been victimized for too long.
Many wonderful things are celebrated in women’s lives however; I do believe it all comes down to the pursuit of happiness. Whether the woman actually succeeds in her pursuit is irrelevant so long as she is actually able to engage in it. To be able to pursue the basic human want of happiness is critical in every person life. The reason why this is a cause for celebration in women’s literature is that so often they are robbed of this opportunity through oppressive traditions often orchestrated by their male counterparts. To pursue happiness is to rebel against the machine and to take a journey towards greater personal freedom. A classic example would be the case of Precious in the story, “Push”. Precious is able to overcome the oppression of her social environment and is able to pursue a little bit of her own personal happiness out of a desperately bleak situation. That is certainly a cause that should be celebrated. Another case in which a woman is able to pursue happiness but is unsuccessful would be the Haitian housekeeper in “Between the Pool and the Gardenias”. The woman pursues her dream of motherhood and this is her pursuit of happiness. To her the defining moment in her life was to be mothering a child, while this story had a rather tragic ending for just a moment she was able to pursue happiness and that should not be overlooked.
We all need to vent sometimes, for women the ability to vent anger is another key element of the experiences which define women’s lives. A source of anger which I have noticed throughout many of the readings is the perception of women vassals for male sexual enjoyment yet at the same time female sexuality is something to just be ignored. There are just too many cases of sexual abuse against women and I think that for the better part of human history that female sexual rights have been ignored is a focal point of a lot of that anger. The co-partner in crime to sexual abuse has to be the pent up frustration over not being able to express themselves. “The Vagina Monologues” probably best exemplifies this as it is a book which broke barriers for tackling this very issue. The fact that Eve Ensler only recently undertook this project and that for some of the women interviewed it was the very first time that they had been asked about their own sexuality is even more astounding. For how many centuries did women have to go without being able to express their most personal feelings? Personally I am shocked there was not a more radical revolt on the behalf of women everywhere over this pent up frustration.