What Makes A True Woman? Dissecting The Cross-Cultural Gender Norms In My Global Travels.

C.Nichole, founder of the Pan African Think Tank

By C.Nichole

I was born in Texas, USA, a Western world country. Over the years, I’ve had my fair share of travel to what would be considered eastern world countries and regions, including the Middle East. American women, generally speaking, tend to be very progressive. That’s weird to write because at home, American women are constantly fighting for their rights, fighting for equality. But it wasn’t too long ago that women in Saudi Arabia got the right to drive, something that I’ve never had to think about fighting for. American women have come a long way since needing their husband’s permission to get a credit card. American women have been catalysts in starting protests and policy change for the world to see.

I’ve encountered Eastern world men, and even some Western world men, who call American women “aggressive” compared to other nationalities. Would I agree? Based on what the average society standards are, then yes, I do. I have even gone as far as to say that American women are pretty masculine compared to women in other societies. I say “pretty” masculine in the sense that we are still womanly in our beauty, but sometimes our movements, thoughts, actions would not be considered feminine to certain male perspectives and conservative attitudes.

What’s considered masculine? When societies see that word, what are some traits that come to mind? Strength, assertiveness, independence, leadership, and courage are a few that come to mind. I, C.Nichole, hold all of those traits. I am one of those “masculine” women that some men frown upon. I don’t follow society’s standards. Growing up, things such as being a stay-at-home wife or mother never interested me. You want me to cook and clean for an able individual, twiddling my thumbs until he comes home when I could be out there in the world doing that I want, how I want, when I want, without asking for permission? It wasn’t a hard decision to make because I made it at seven years old. I knew I needed to be free, as free as my dad looked me in my eyes.

C.Nichole pictured as a baby with her father.

Growing up, my parents couldn’t get it right. My single dad raised me. In my eyes, whatever I saw him doing, I felt I could do. I’ve never felt I needed to work harder because I’m a woman; the only thing I knew was I needed to just “work hard”, period. I didn’t start learning about those stigmas until college, when I would notice things that other classmates, or women in general, would do.

They would inform me that they have to work harder to be seen equal or get a leg up in a “man’s world.” I always knew about the unequal pay, but the unequal work too? It sounded like a sham that I didn’t want to be a part of. I love men. You can say that they were the gender that I looked up to the most because they outnumbered the number of women that were in my life growing up. But as a logical thinker, I could never understand the sexism, the shaming of women, the name-calling, the straight disrespect!

Women birth the world! What’s more significant than that? Women are the ones that carry a child from a zygote to the human being that I am, and you are today. That is unmatched. What’s considered feminine? When societies see that word, what are some traits that come to mind? Nurturance, supportiveness, empathy, devotion, passion are a few that come to mind. I, C.Nichole, hold all of those traits. So why have I been told, specifically in Eastern world countries, that I am not a true woman?

I founded a non-profit, Pan African Think Tank, whose mission is to bridge the gap between Africa and the African Diaspora through Pan African forums that assist with research as a means to collectively advocate. As a think tank, conducting on-the-ground research is crucial to advancing our mission. One can’t help in fixing anything if they don’t know what they’re improving. When I step on the African continent, I get a sense of what American women have warned me about in terms of it being a “man’s world.”

On a leadership level, I can count on one hand how many women I’ve interacted with within the non-profit/non-governmental organization sector. The first email, the first phone call, is always interesting because I never know if they fully understand that I’m leading the non-profit and not just a secretary or a non-decision-making party. I’ve noticed that upon the first appearance, sometimes it seems as if they’re used to seeing women look a certain way, act a certain way, speak a certain way being in a leadership role. I wear what I please, usually casual or informal. I am an American-raised city-girl, meaning I have a chance of coming off as “masculine” in my movements and actions.

There’s no secret that I use both American English, African-American Vernacular English, Internet English, and profanity if we’ve gotten close enough to joke around. Yet I am still passionate about my mission, devoted to the cause, a nurturer of my work while empathizing with the people I meet, intending to be supportive. So I pose the question again, “Why have I heard that ‘I’m not a true woman.'”

C.Nichole with activists from Agents of Change organization in Africa

I’ve heard that I’m not a true woman by both men and women in Eastern world countries, mainly during my travels for Pan African Think Tank. What caught me off guard the most was the first time a woman told me that. I’m 29 years old and not even thinking about a family; it’s the furthest thing from my mind right now. Everything isn’t for everyone, and I’m one of those “not for everyone” people. The woman was around my age and was doing a newspaper interview on my non-profit and wanted to know more about the founder (me), which I have no problem with when it comes to personal questions.

Because I didn’t have a family of my own, she informed me that I couldn’t become a true woman, a complete woman, until I had given my hand in marriage and had a child. My thoughts were, “So you’re telling me that no matter what I have done or will do, I can never be a true woman until I marry someone else’s son and pop a baby out? What type of messed up cultural stuff is this?” Except there was profanity where “messed” and “stuff” were.

I know that societal norms have populations of men thinking this way, but I couldn’t help think about how many other women feel this way. Because for a woman to believe that they’re trueness, their completeness, their wholeness is measured by an action taken that must include another human being is mind-blogging.

For such traditions to be thrust upon young females from such a young age to the point that it’s indoctrinated into their minds, even while entering womanhood, is incomprehensible to me. I have both masculine and feminine traits and don’t have to meet any of society’s standards, whether that is the Western world, Eastern world, on Earth, or somewhere else in the universe. I am as true, complete, and whole as they come. There is no comma or conjunction needed. Period.

C.Nichole is a businesswoman, author, singer-songwriter, world traveler, and non-profit founder. She has published “American Presidential Parties: Their Relevance to People of African Descent” and the children’s book “The Reign: Africa.” Using her talents as a singer-songwriter, she recently released Pan African Think Tank Vol. 1 to uplift people of African descent with positive music that also incorporates their history.  She is an advocate for Pan Africanism, uniting all people of African descent, which is why she founded the 501(c)3 non-profit, Pan African Think Tank.

Follow C.Nichole on Social Media: @MsCNichole

Follow Pan African Think Tank and Publishing: http://PanAfricanTT.org, @PanAfricanTT @PanAfricanPH

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