I try not to take myself too seriously. But when the question, What is a woman? kept bouncing up in my newsfeeds, I began to wonder if this is a universal mystery I should take a deeper look into. After all, Supreme Court Justice Ketanji B. Jackson couldn’t answer the question because, as she stated in her senate confirmation hearings, “I’m not a biologist.”
I’m not a biologist either. Does it indeed take an advanced degree in this field of science to be able to know what a woman is? I scratched my head, wondering if all my life, I’d been wrong about … well … what I am.
And when right-wing commentator Matt Walsh produced a provocative and worldwide-distributed documentary asking the same question, I pondered that of all the things I do not know, surely this is something I should know. I mean, for 30 something years, I’ve been called a woman.
Maybe I’m not.
I decided to reach back into the cobb-webbed recesses of my memories and search for that elusive moment when I understood I was a woman. When had I, without a science degree or advanced studies into societal behaviors determined I was a woman?
It took some time, and some scrolling back through my high school yearbooks, but I came to the conclusion that it was not my parents that set the course of my being called woman. No, they called me Laurie, or Hey There, but never woman. My brothers called me Fat Laurie, but never once did they yell out woman when I tattled on them. My womanhood wasn’t established in science class, either. True we studied the human’s skeleton and major organs, but I don’t think we ever had a compelling discussion on what defines a woman. In junior high back then, such topics were inappropriate.
And so, after days of toil, I’ve determined my initial identity of being a woman came from the songstress Helen Reddy. In 1971 at the tender age of 12, I heard the powerful, revealing words Reddy sang when she released her mega hit single, I am Woman. And I, premenstrual and raging with hormones, identified.
Here’s what Reddy sang:
I am woman, hear me roar in numbers too big to ignore and I know too much to go back and pretend. ‘Cause I’ve heard it all before, and I’ve been down there on the floor, no one’s every gonna keep me down again. Oh yes, I am wise, but it’s wisdom born of pain, and yes I’ve paid the price, but look how much I’ve gained. If I have to, I can do anything. I am strong. I am invincible. I am woman.
And there you have it.
So what is all the fuss about?
Reddy clears it up nice, I think.
But surely I hadn’t pinned my identity on just one song of the seventies.
I remembered others. I’m Every Woman by Chaka Khan, released in ’78. I was 19 and all about control. Here’s what Chaka had to say: I’m every woman, it’s all in me. Anything you want done, baby, I’ll do it naturally … I can read your thoughts right now, every one from A to Z … but anytime you feel danger or fear, instantly I will appear ….
Oh, those bold women singing through the infancy of women’s liberations. According to these libbers, when a woman gets knocked down, she gets back up. A woman gains wisdom from the hard knocks of life. A woman can discern thoughts. A woman is always there with a helping hand.
Oh yeah. Here … here is where woman is defined. And I grabbed the title!
Having two brothers growing up, it was likely long before Helen Reddy that I realized I had tools no male possessed. And to be fair, visa-versa. But while my brothers wrestled and played ball through the preteen years, I sat up commerce on my bedroom floor. True, I was playing homemaker with Barbies and paper dolls, but in the households I built, who do you think was running the family business and buying sports cars?
I am woman!
I know there are some gray areas I’m not covering or, honestly, understand. In all my simplicity, I simply wish to establish whether or not I am, actually, a woman.
So I go to my absolute source of all truth: God’s Word.
In the creation account found in Genesis, we read that God made man but quickly determined it was not good for man to be alone. This is when He put Adam into a deep sleep, removed a rib, and fashioned woman. He called the woman He made man’s ezer. Ezer is Hebrew word English speakers have translated to helper.
But in the original Hebrew, the word has distinct meaning beyond the general term helper. The Hebrew noun ezer is used multiple times in the Hebrew Old Testament giving us an idea of what God meant when he deemed Eve an ezer. Two times this word is used in reference to the woman made in the garden of Eden. The other times refer to someone helping in life-threatening situations. But the majority of times ezer is used, it is in reference to God being Israel’s strong helper. These biblical texts speak of a vital and powerful help—a gate keeper. When God made woman, he made a helpmate to stand guard for man. Obviously, this guarding isn’t intended to mean physical protection as men are made to be physically stronger. But the meaning points to a spiritual protection, a wisdom.
This is what I am. I’m an ezer–a protector, a discerner, a symbol of the Bride of Christ. I am woman.
Suddenly Helen Reddy’s song rings true, right?
I love being a woman. I am a woman. And I don’t need a degree in biology to determine this. Just ask my husband. 😊 Just ask Helen.
Sing it with me: I am woooomann!
Standing for Truth,