What is a Woman?
A woman is a person demarcated by gender as a performer of social labors.
Labor as Identity
Certainly, women are individual people descending from millenia of precedent that are likely to have illuminated the contours of their capacity in ways as colorful and various as women themselves. However, for a concise and secular definition which this essay intends to propose, the essential differentiation of woman is that of subjugation to scripts of femininity which historically (and principally in the European west) has demanded such labors as the performance of beauty, the much bemoaned "emotional labor," domestic labor and reproductive labor.
The modes in which this subjugation are expressed are typically no longer overt, but insidiously persistent. While modern women enjoy a broadened periphery of femininity, one in which some deviation from the assumption of labor and its associated demarcators is indulged -- women, for instance, may now dress in trousers sans cosmetics and perform work for capital outside of the private sphere -- the expectation and the enforcement of some essential feminine labors continue to be propagated practically universally. Evidence for discrepancies between favor enjoyed by adequately feminine women and ordinary women need not require introspection. Female readers are likely familiar with surprise interjections about their appearance, of being told to smile. These are microaggressive demands for feminine performativity.
Domestic and reproductive or maternal labors are sometimes attributed ostensible Madonna sanctity -- similarly to feminity itself -- but ought not be misinterpreted to endow any actuable power to the possesors of this potential. Rather it is in reduction of feminine work and potential even by idealization to an object that women are further disenfranchised. Consider the semiotic elevation enjoyed by the womb, or any variety of feminine organ divorced from the mechanism which propels a female person. The disassembly of the flesh feminine defines an article and not a rebuttal of female oppression.
examples of labor