#Society #Women Offbeat

Women are Complex: What Being A Woman Means


This is a Back Page Column.

Being a WOMAN, simple it seems, but is not that easy
It’s not just about make-up, shopping and being cheesy
Neither just about cockroach, lizard and inexplicable fears
Nor only about sensitivity, emotions and easy flowing tears
Womanhood is daughter, sister, lover, wife, mother’s bond
Womanhood is an intricate amalgam of all and much beyond

If you think women are complicated, I reassure you, they ARE. Solving a Sudoku is much easier than understanding the enigma called “woman”.

I may be too young to speak about the broad and multi-dimensional phenomenon of womanhood, which has a life span of cradle to grave. Nevertheless I would speak, for I have lived two decades of it and plan to live six more, to see my grand-children grow. I don’t want to emphasize on what a woman CAN DO or SHOULD DO, I will just talk about what an average woman DOES. Nothing out of the box, none my imagination but all that is known, all that is the truth. I would be talking what being a woman is. What womanhood is all about. Just what the reality is and not what ideally it should be. Let me warn you, it is a long article. But you do not get an unrestricted cakewalk into a woman’s territory too often, so it is going to be worth your time. And the latter part of the article might help you in solving a few columns of the Sudoku. So let’s walk down and explore some aspects of womanhood:


Womanhood is not about emotions, it is about an oceanful of emotions. The range of our emotions is hugely vivid and extremely deep. Happiness, love, care, appreciation, hope, enthusiasm, anger, rage, fear, grief, despair, anxiety, surprise, apprehension, worry, envy—all runs in a woman’s blood and there is no turning away from this fact. We are women, we are sentimental. We love boundless, we hate endless. We hope for the best and we worry about the worst. We get angry in a second, we melt in a moment. We care too much and we fear too much. We can have more than one emotion at a time, which comes across as confusion.

Emotions of a woman are her greatest strength and the driving force behind all the strong decisions. Emotions are an expression of femininity and not of fragility. Womanhood is all about feelings. And we have no qualms about it. We absolutely love this aspect of womanhood.


Overtly active tear-glands are the hallmark of women. We don’t know when-where-why would we cry. We just do. We do NOT deliberate it; and we can not help it. Never ever take a woman’s tears as a sign of weakness. It is just a measure of her SENSITIVENESS. Tears of a woman could have four meanings:

Meaning 1: She is too happy and short of words to express it. These tears deserve simple acknowledgement.

Meaning 2: She is hurt and fearful. And she really is. These tears demand a sincere apology.

Meaning 3: She is in pain. And it is intense and inexpressible. These tears need genuine concern.

Meaning 4: She is just SHE. She has a million things to worry about. It may be her chipped nail or damaged hair; her dog might be ill, or that beggar child on the road, or Shah Rukh dying at the end of a movie, or the mention of another girl by her boyfriend more than twice, or a 0.000001-kilogram-increment in her weight. Anything and everything can stimulate those tear glands. And she can control them as much as a man can control ogling at women.

No! No man can understand the fourth meaning. The best (or the only thing) he can do is “to pretend to understand, to refrain from laughing, and to keep quiet!” She would be alright in some moments.


Morality, responsibility, liability, fidelity, rules, customs, superstitions are the social ornaments obligatory to wear for the women and optional for the men. Any breach of these codes of conducts by men is acceptable and forgettable, but the same by women is condemnable and punishable. A son is forgiven for adultery but a daughter-in-law is not. An infertile son is covered but an infertile daughter-in-law is exposed for divorce. A woman never commits mistakes, because anything ‘against-the-norms’ that she does is a sin—a permanent and indelible stigma, which makes the most pronounced part of her profile for a lifetime. Accept or do not. It is a fact and unfortunately has remained so, ever since the dawn of humanity. Womanhood is about facing the discrimination for having sweeter voice, longer hair, fairer complexion, shorter height and softer bones as compared to man, since we can’t ascertain any other reason for all the partiality that is done to us.

Womanhood is about the uncertainties and apprehensions that come along with the sharpest and the most crucial turning point in her life called MARRIAGE. Marriage, for a man is addition of new colours; for a woman is the change of the basic colours. In a traditional Indian arranged marriage, she is uncertain about THE ONE. She is uncertain about the new environment, new home, new family, new roles, new responsibilities, new customs and new traditions that she is going to be part of. Only a woman knows the nervousness of this life-changing transition full of uncertainties. Womanhood is about leaving her home to be a part of HIS family and to make HIS home.

Ah! The man-made society has planned it all according to the man’s comfort. All woman has to do is accept it comfortably. Womanhood is about shining amidst all the inhibitions of time, space and society. Womanhood is about seeing through the veils. Womanhood is about walking with the chains. Womanhood is about leaving a mark against all odds.


Bearing a child and motherhood is probably the most beautiful thing in the world, for nothing else could explain the charm and glow on a pregnant woman’s face. And on that beautiful face are the fine lines of tension, anxiety and anticipation about the well-being of that ‘new life’ within her. A woman lives through those beautiful nine months with extreme caution. Labour pains at the termination of this blissful period could give goose-flesh and shake even the most robust of souls. Womanhood is about bearing this intense pain for the birth and continuation of life. Womanhood is about those heart-wrenching shrieks before the heart-warming cry of a new life.

Womanhood is about the sleepless nights that follow. Womanhood is about the untiring responsibilities that come along. Womanhood is about nurturing a seedling into a tree. Womanhood is about the devotion of a lifetime for motherhood. Womanhood is about living this most blissful essence of the womanhood.


Womanhood is a constant struggle between heart and mind.

Womanhood is a continuous shuffle between rigidity and fragility.

Womanhood is a frequent shift between sensibility and sensitivity.

Womanhood is a regular alteration between stiffness and submissiveness.

Womanhood is about living these contradictions and still striking a balance. Womanhood is about settling the internal tides and keep flowing as a smooth river. Womanhood is about facing these inherent challenges and coming up strong and stable.


Let’s believe that Men are from Mars and Women from Venus. Since only this credo can explain the stark differences between the two species. Womanhood is about making adjustments with these MARTIANS since they are bound to stay together on the Earth.

Men need to know that women appreciate the meaningful things more than the magnificent things done by men. Women crave for just 5 things from men. Respect. Love. Understanding. Loyalty. Time. We do not want a man to do us favours but we notice every single act of chivalry and gentlemanly behaviour and remember them forever. And these count A LOT while making the final impression of a man. Our dad is our best man and every other man is seen relative to his standards.

And for the man a woman likes, loves and marries:

  • We think you are the best. And the truth is, you are the only one we think about.
  • We love you for your being “YOU”, but still we would try to change a million things in you.
  • We don’t need you to bring us moon and stars but counting them with us under a starry sky is not that tough a job! Is it?
  • We don’t want you to be superman and move the mountains for us but fixing those nails and electric wires is not that big an expectation!
  • We are not usually dangerous, just that we feel like killing all other girls who talk to you.
  • We are not gold-diggers. Certainly not. A flower works as much wonders to cheer us up as a diamond does.
  • When we say it matters, it does. If we say it does not matter, it still does.
  • When you behave weirdly we make hundreds of assumptions per second. And 99 of them say, “He does not love any more!” But we still believe in the 100th one, which says, “He does.”
  • We admire your male best friends but you CAN NOT admire our female best friends!!
  • You can forget to breathe for once but forget our birthday and you die!
  • The fact is that sweet, little and meaningful things DO MATTER TO US. And that’s the only thing we wish, expect you to understand. That is it. Just that.
  • We already worry about our weight and pimples. Do not rant about them.
  • We are not interested in knowing the hourly details of your life. Just tell us what you did in the 3600 seconds of the day.
  • By the way! All those diamonds, solitaires, credit cards are just icing on the cake. And we don’t mind occasional icings! 😀

That is enough of revelations I guess. I would be moving to the next section for the sake of humanity.

    • Yes! We love chocolates, teddies, kids, Shah Rukh, Edward, love stories and fairy tales. PEACE.
    • Yes! We are dreamy. And our dreams are beautiful. PHEW!
    • Yes! We don’t understand gadgets, bikes, football and maths. And we care the least. BLAH!
    • Yes! We are right in 90% of the arguments. In the rest 10%, the other person is wrong. WATCH OUT!
    • Yes! We don’t need continuous oxygen to live. We need non-stop talking. BLISS IT IS!
    • Yes! We know more than Google does. We can find out anything and everything. BELIEVE IT OR NOT!
    • Yes! There is a calendar in our brains and it registers every single date and anniversaries. And it is stored there forever.
    • Yes! We know only two adjectives: SWEET and CUTE! And only one interjection: “Awwwww!” Isn’t it so sweet?
    • Yes! We need 4–5 hours to get ready. And our time starts when others have already reached to the door. PATIENCE MAN!
    • Yes! Shopping, make-up, gossiping and giggling are our birth rights. No arguments. Full stop.

This is just a faint outline of womanhood. And I am not done yet. There are a zillion other aspects I am yet to explore and experience. I will revert back once again, to tell you all that is left, in Part-2, may be in the 60th year of my life, where I would just be sitting on the porch of HIS house, adorably seeing HIM fixing my broken stick, narrating the part-2 to my grand-children and asking “Shivi” (my grand-daughter!) to type it and send to NTMN’s editor. (Oops! Didn’t I say WOMEN ARE DREAMY!..:P)

About the author

Anita Phalswal


  • GAL ……This is a true masterpiece …I have not read anything which is as good as this one ..though I am a guy and some of the facts just terrified me 😛 I must say u re a outstanding writer 🙂

  • very well written…awsome..
    If me, a boy like it so much den i can realise how girls will react after reading this.. 🙂

  • This is the very BEST article on the women I have ever read! It made me think and think again, of myself and of others. Hats off!! 🙂

  • Awesome ma’m!!just amazing!! u r an outstanding writer!!wish i cud be 10% of it!! i cn really connect to evry line. 🙂

  • From the title of this article, and the past articles by this author, I thought that this one is gonna be another “SERIOUS” one. But the latter part is too funny. Kudos.

  • According to me men and women must be treated alike. Every individual is a unique soul, there aint no way you can generalize them on the basis of gender. i read your other article about the bus seat. That was very much valid, as it had a medical explanation attached to it. But this one looks like an article written just for the sake of pleasing yourself, and presenting your own opinion. which is absolutely alright. but it’s wrong if a personal opinion is represented as a general one. Anyway, all respect to these lines by the author:

    “Being a WOMAN, simple it seems, but is not that easy
    It’s not just about make-up, shopping and being cheesy
    Neither just about cockroach, lizard and inexplicable fears
    Nor only about sensitivity, emotions and easy flowing tears
    Womanhood is daughter, sister, lover, wife, mother’s bond
    Womanhood is an intricate amalgam of all and much beyond.”
    I just loved that piece of poetry. RESPECT:).

    • Prabhat: thanks a lot 🙂 And undoubtedly this is the authors opinion. But I’m very much glad that many women did relate to it as well.

      And in fact, I started writing it as a poem initially, then there was so much to express that I shifted to prose 🙂

  • dear..nw i wd say my ovr active tear glands have been activated again bcz this tym i hv no words to say hw gud it was………wel done sweety…..:)

  • Anita, I very much enjoyed this article. We are a complex web of emotions, feelings, etc. Sometimes we women can be difficult, and my heart goes out to all the men out there. They can never win!

    Speaking of which, I’m a bit embarrassed about this, but cut me a little slack, this happened 20+ years ago, and I was an emotional, young college girl at the time (an English Lit/Drama major no less). I had been romantically involved with this guy for about six months and it seemed to me that we just couldn’t take things to the next level and it would be in both of our interests to move on. So one day, I decided to have a heart to heart chat with him, going to great
    lengths to be sensitive to his feelings, and getting a little emotional in the process of saying it was time to end things. His response? Well, very casual, dry (he was an engineering major, go figure) and hmmm, maybe even a little cheerful. He said with a smile, “yeah, you’re right, it’s probably the best thing.” Well, I was stunned by his lack of disappointment and asked if that was all he had to say. He again replied casually, “yeah, I think that’s about it.” I had invested the past six months of my life with this guy and he didnt seem to be the least bit upset that I was breaking up with him?! What a blow to my self-esteem and that was more than I could take. I stood up from the bench we were sitting on in the heart of the campus quad, gently lifted his chin (by the look on his face, he may have been expecting a good bye kiss) and then SMACK — he got a hearty slap, right across the face. Of course I stormed off in a huff, a complete, emotional wreck.

    Later on, I talked about it with a few of my sorority sisters and of course got hugged, consoled, etc. Then one of my sisters said something like “so wait a minute….you broke up with him and then slapped him?”. It then occurred to me how ridiculous the scenario was! Laughter ensued along with lots of good-natured teasing from my friends. The story doesn’t end there. A few days later, he sent me flowers and an apology card. I’m not sure if the poor guy even knew
    what he was apologizing for! 😉

  • Superb Post, seems like telling the truth of every woman 🙂
    Appreciate your post and of course will wait for your next post by “Shivi” (your grand-daughter!) 😀 I wish, the post will be their typed by ur hands only and obviously your grand daughter will be reading like us 🙂

  • I don’t know , and I am very sorry if I appear insensitive or rude, but certain things about this article made my blood boil.
    Don’t get me wrong, it was extremely well written and certain parts were enjoyable, but on the whole, it still made my blood boil.
    I think what irked me, was the representation of women as irrational,emotionally hyper, teddy bear and Shahrukh Khan loving, naive, submissive, martyrs.
    Yup, that pretty much sums it up.
    Here are certain things I found particularly note-worthy :
    “Overtly active tear-glands are the hallmark of women.”
    I wish the author had endorsed a less dubious quality as the hallmark of women.Seriously.
    The whole section on womenhood and tears make me wonder. What does the author think are the differences between an average woman and a heavily pregnant and hormonal one?
    Especially meaning 4, Good God, how could you have written something like that which endorses our entire gender as…lets politely say, cute and witless 🙂

    The section on womanhood and society started out good. The double standards present in our society were pinpointed accurately. A big thank you to the author here, for bringing it up.
    BUT. This : “Womanhood is about walking with the chains” and this : “Womanhood is a regular alteration between stiffness and submissiveness.Womanhood is about living these contradictions and still striking a balance.” <– this did not help our cause.
    Womanhood is definitely not about striking a balance when it comes to submissiveness, it should be about protesting outright.
    I realise, at the start you said, the article was about how woman are and not how they should be. But writing things like this is just as bad as endorsing the fact that however women are treated in our society these days, we just have to bite the bullet and compromise.Hell, no! Equality, equality, equality. Repeat after me.
    At least, I really like this line. "Womanhood is about facing these inherent challenges and coming up strong and stable."
    "We are not gold diggers."
    What this article really lacks, I guess, is a clear understanding of what constitutes as "we."
    It would be very naive to consider the entire race as whitewashed angels. There is good and bad in every one, regardless of gender.
    "We don't understand gadgets."
    Tell that to the percentage of girls in India getting into IIT's and NIT's and studying engineering. They will have a thing or two to say about this.
    "We need non-stop talking."
    I could actually let this one slide because in comparison, it looks like a very mild flaw to have.
    "We know only two adjectives: SWEET and CUTE!"
    Tell this to some female Ph.d holder and video tape her reactions for me.Please.
    If this was your faint outline on womanhood, it was indeed, incredibly faint.
    I understand this is a website meant for light-hearted article that should be taken as entertaining. But even so, if you're going put something out there for the whole world to read, I wish you had shown women in a more credible light than this.
    I mean, in an article on womenhood and its complexities and greatness, Shahrukh Khan, teddy bears and Edward Cullen were mentioned twice apiece. Kalpana Chawla, Kiran Bedi and Indra Nooyi were not mentioned at all. I rest my case.

    • Hi Satarupa,
      I endorse woman empowerment and equality as much as you do.This is a piece of writing accepting some simple things about woman and womanhood, and does not intend to project them as gullible and irrational. If at some points, it came across in that manner to you as a reader, I would like to improve further as a writer. Thanks for your valuable feedback 🙂

      • Hello, thanks for reading my comment and for your graciousness.
        I would like to apologize for my earlier tone though. I had written the comment, directly after reading the article, which seems to be the wrong thing to do if you’re trying to be an impartial critic, emotions come in the way. My blood certainly isn’t boiling any more and in retrospect, it probably wasn’t my blood that was boiling then, but more likely my flair of drama.
        I read your other articles, you’re doing a good job. Keep up the good work.

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