WomanhoodI was seventeen when I first understood what it was to be a woman. It wasn't the moment years before when I began my period. It hadn't been the instant in which a boy first touched his lips to mine when I was twelve. It wasn't when I put on my first prom dress, or the first time I wore heels. I knew that women had breasts, and men did not; men were taller, and stronger than women; women were fairer and meeker than men. That was the way things were, and always had been. I was born and raised to accept those facts, and that is exactly what I had done.
I watched the deep, crimson blood drop and fan out in the water beneath me. It was like dropping food dye into oil, or dropping paint onto wet paper. It spread through the basin, dancing slowly over the white porcelain boundaries. My hips and legs and stomach ached for the fourth day in a row despite following the directions of countless concerned friends. "Drink water", "avoid salt", "exercise", they said. I had shaken three cylindrical br