When I was young, I remember hearing my dad tell my mom she was attractive on a regular basis. "Hey, woman, you look beautiful today," he'd say, and my mom would blush and smile and say, "Really?!"
One time, I asked my mom if the fact that my dad called her "woman" bothered her. "No," she replied. "Why would it? I am a woman, after all."
I remember reflecting on her response. Huh. That's interesting -- she makes a good point. So why does it seem to bother almost every other woman in this nation?
And I can't seem to fathom a single reasonable answer. Well, actually, I can think of a few possibilities -- but they aren't reasonable. The usual, it's degrading, it's objectifying, it's biased. But really, if you think about it, how is it any of those things?
Don't get me wrong. I'm a woman myself, and I wholeheartedly believe in equality amongst males and females. I believe in women empowerment, but I also believe in men empowerment, because that's fair, isn't it? I'm a big supporter of evenhandedness. I don't think one gender should ever trump the other.
But in no way do I believe that recognizing a woman for what she's genetically comprised of (which is awesome; our sex is awesome!) is stripping us of our equivalence and mashing us into the prejudiced-ridden mother earth dirt.
Let's defeat the argument about the word acting as a means of objectification right now. Existing as a female and possessing female parts is human, not object. The recognizer is merely identifying another human's gender orientation, which is, as established, not object. The opposite, in fact.
And also, it's kind of a double standard to feel upset over the term. We distinguish men for their penises frequently. "Hey, man, how's it going?" I've heard both men and women use the label "man." And no one has ever uttered a peep about degradation in relation to its usage; at least, no peep that I've ever heard.
Of course, as with most diction, there's a right and wrong way to use the "w" word. Using it in an anti-feminist sense (which happens frequently, I admit) would be deemed as the wrong way. "Go make me a sandwich, woman!" is a running anti-feminist joke, and while I personally don't take offense (I've learned to laugh off the haters), I could see how other women would.
But when a man (or woman) uses the word in a way that elevates a woman's sense of self, like my dad, I think it's totally okay. Better than okay, in fact. Unreservedly welcomed.
I know for certain that I love feeling like a woman (cue Shania Twain song. You know you love that song). These may be societal as well as stereotypical conceptions of a woman's pleasures, but either way, I enjoy dressing and feeling feminine. I like to feel ... pretty. That's why I wear makeup.
So being identified as a woman is something to rejoice in. Being recognized as a beautiful woman, like my mother, is also something to celebrate. And there's absolutely no shame in that.