Even as I say this, I realize that I don't really even know how to define the word woman for myself. I'm certainly not the type of woman my mother and sister are. I've always leaned more toward classic/liberal arts education and before leaving Mormonism, had a hard time relating to other women because of this. I've always been more career oriented and reluctant around babies, another characteristic that made it difficult for me to relate to most women in the church. For the last couple years of my stint in Mormonism, most of my mentors were men, and I related better to the husbands (with a few exceptions) than the wives in my circle of married friends.
Now that I've left the church, I've found more like-minded women and formed bonds that have surprised me with their strength. There's something very fulfilling for me to sit and visit with women in my mother's or even grandmother's generation--as if we share a common heritage or culture all our own. My core female friends are some of the most important people in my life. I relate to them and rely on them and support them in their own struggles on many different levels.
I suppose what I'm trying to say is that in theory at least, I don't consider myself to be a gender essentialist. I do think that gender is more fluid than we acknowledge in our society. So it confuses me that so much of my identity is wrapped up in being a woman--not androgynous, not lesbian, not butch, not feminine--but a woman. It's just that my views about gender are so flexible that I have a hard time defining that in any concrete terms. I think of myself as a woman, but I realize that I can't under any circumstances generalize what it means to be a woman from my own experience. So I'm wondering why that label is so important to my identity and why it brings me so much fulfillment.
Anyway, I'm not sure that was as clear as I would have liked it to be. Any thoughts anyone has on the matter would be welcome. How do you define the two genders? How do you see yourself on the spectrum?How do you relate to others of your "assigned" gender? How much of gender bending is perhaps anomalous (by anomalous I mean outside "normal" gender identification but acceptable nonetheless, clear as mud)? How much of gender identity is socially fabricated and how much is biological?