I don’t remember when I first encountered Freud’s famously plaintive, vaguely foolish question, “What do women want?” It’s hard to believe a question whose answer is so simple and unchanging even needs to be asked.
Women want what men want – to be free. We want to walk the world in freedom, as men do.
Women want freedom from the violence of men. We want freedom from kidnapping and sex trafficking and forced prostitution. Freedom from rape, gang rape, attempted rape, and date rape.Freedom from being asked what were you wearing and how much did you drink when we are raped. Freedom from pushes, punches, slaps, and kicks. Freedom from being called whores, sluts, cunts and bitches. Freedom from the casual visual inspection by men on buses, men in business meetings, men in bars, men on street corners, together and separately charting our breasts, thighs, asses, and faces with constantly assessing eyes. Freedom from being called honey baby sweetie cutie pretty lady. Freedom from being grabbed by the arm, the hair, the ass, and the pussy.
Women want freedom from the pressure to be beautiful to men. We want freedom from cultural edicts about what makes a woman feminine. We want freedom from advertisers telling us about all the things that we need to fix, like the smell of our vaginas and the length of our eyelashes and the redness of our lips. Freedom from assumptions we won’t work, can’t work, or don’t want to work the same jobs as men. Freedom to be paid fairly and equally for our work. Freedom to compete against a male breadwinner for a job and get it. Freedom from the expectation that we must be partnered with a man to be happy, freedom from the assumption we must have children to be fulfilled. Freedom from teachers who think boys are naturally more adept at math and science. Freedom from parents who restrict the movements of their girls for fear of what boys might do to them. Freedom from medical professionals who would pick and choose our medical treatments for us. Freedom from from religious authorities telling us what to wear, what to say, what to do, who we are and who we can be.
Women want freedom from all the things that, once fallen away, finally give us the freedom to be what we really want: ourselves.