It’s really really hard to be a woman.

Forget the glass ceiling, the old boys network, the locker room, the Constitution.

It takes a herculean effort to be a woman.

The MeToo Movement is helping the discussion; at least we are speaking up about violence and oppression, both blatant and subtle. That’s an important start. But beyond that, I don’t hear people talking about the biological hurdles that women have to overcome.

I think women are scared to discuss biology because for so many centuries we have been limited by biology, and this is the first time in history that the limits are being challenged. Biology is taboo because we were taboo, and we don’t want to go back there.

But I think it is time to broaden the awareness, not to make women go back in any way to the social restrictions that bound us for millenia, but rather to uplift all of us who struggle on a daily, private level.

We can start with discussing menses. When my menses started 55 years ago, we called it the Period. And for me it was a period: the end of my childhood of freedom and movement and parity. Period. From that day forward, I had to be careful and self-conscious and handicapped. Not only was I being surpassed by the boys in height and strength, I also had to hide and disguise a physical attribute that, if noticed by males or females, would only generate scorn, pity, derision, and shame.

It is at that age — 13 — that I had to acknowledge that the Standard of Existence was Male. In addition to height and strength, the male standard applied to everything. Speed. Grace. Authority. Beauty. Intelligence. Aspiration. Interest. Divinity.

Beauty, you say? Isn’t that the one world where females excel? Not in my liberal household of two parents, four daughters, and one son. My mother, who was a “beautiful blonde” by any measure, indoctrinated us girls with the idea that our father was real beauty, genuine beauty, Greek statue beauty, and she said it with love. She didn’t notice that she was cutting us girls off from the one avenue in which we were allowed to run wild. To her feminist way of thinking, discouraging us from primping was steering us toward a richer, fuller life, just as she wouldn’t teach us how to cook, wouldn’t let us be cheerleaders, and wouldn’t tolerate the word “boyfriend.”

It took me many years to realize that in fact she was right; the male is the standard of beauty as well.

I think — as my beauty is transforming into wrinkles, like pupa into butterfly — we need to say, beauty is the least of our contests. I think we need to commit to a female standard in every aspect. The mountain-climbing challenge of childbirth. The home-run hitting of an election. The marathon-running challenge of child-rearing. The basket-sinking challenge of being heard.

I do not tolerate the old tropes that women are too hysterical and emotional and “on the rag” to be fully-engaged people. I am saying, the male population really hasn’t a clue how multi-talented we are because we don’t talk about it. The essence of being female remains invisible.

Let’s talk about how herculean it is just to be female. Let’s not not talk about it. Let’s not cloak our bodies and body-functions in shame. Let’s not pretend they don’t exist and they don’t impact our decisions and performances. Because when we measure performance against this female standard, we see how truly exceptional we are.