Disclaimer: this week’s posts will be dedicated to the experience of being a woman in celebration of the International Women’s Day. I have had surge of inspiration (as I always do with issues close to my heart) and have a few more posts planned for this week than usual. This particular article contains swear words. Sorry (not sorry), I’m just really mad!
Firstly, to all the women out there, happy International Women’s Day!
I have been a feminist since I can remember. An imperfect one, who actually believed when was told as a child that the women’s battle for equality and respect was done and sorted. I didn’t realise before my young adult years that was a lie, even when everyday I saw examples that it wasn’t. At home, at school, in the streets. Everywhere really. We were looking to other places on Earth, where women are treated as inferior to men by law. Where they’re kept at home, and need to be covered. Marrying at 10 years old. Burnt alive to save family honour. And while this disgusts me to my inner core, making me feel hot of anger just while I type this, as I became a young adult, I realised that I was treated differently in comparison to men my age. With my critical sense developing, I started to understand why I often felt so inferior and did not know why.
I am told I need to smile more. To be nicer. But not too nice. You don’t want to give the wrong impression. My personality is though. How can you expect to have friends or find a prospecting husband like that? Daring to have opinions… Do you dare to be assertive? Because actually you’re just being arrogant and hysterical. Kind of a bitch. By the way, relax your bitch face. And, since we’re on it, keep your opinions for yourself. No one wants to hear what you have to say really. Perhaps you’re just on your period? How many times at work I was told “do not get mad” by a male counterpart when I was just being assertive, trying to make a point? Or I was not taken seriously because I was just a girl. It has happened to be on meetings where I said the exact same thing as my male colleague, but it was only taken seriously when HE said it. And well, this in the advanced London society.
And, lest forget my friends, that the whole purpose of a woman is to find the man, as if a woman was not able to be perfectly okay (and more than okay really) by herself. But how selfish of the woman, not wanting to find someone, to procreate? You don’t want kids? That’s unnatural, I have been told. I was actually told once that there was clearly something wrong with me. That I was just being immature by saying that. Other woman will say the instinct will hit, you’ll see. You’ll regret it later. Because, you know, a woman is always immature and selfish when she doesn’t follow the path the society has laid out for her. And if you dare to be an ambitious woman… oh I must have a manipulative gene, and a selfish soul.
Nobody asks me about my career. My travelling. When I don’t see family and some friends for a while, the question I’m asked is when do I bring a man? Grandma wants some grandkids. Do you know what it is to arrive from an amazing trip, anxious to share the experience, to tell the stories, to show the photos, and the only thing we see is a look of pity and disdain? Only to be asked is if wouldn’t it have been better if you had gone with someone special?
Are men ever asked these questions? Do they have to endure the pity look? Are they accused of selfishness when they focus on themselves and their personal development? When they leave everything to travel alone?
But it gets worst. When cars honk at you. Catcalling. Behaviours that clearly make a woman feel uncomfortable and unsafe, but seem to be seen by society as normal. If I complain, I’m being a sensitive bitch who doesn’t know how to take a joke. BUT IT’S NOT A JOKE! If some woman like that kind of attention, that’s alright with me. I don’t. Because unwanted male attention makes me feel unsafe. Humiliated sometimes, and scary if it involves stalking. Being groped in crowded places, paralyzing me, a feeling of disgust, that I was harm is a strange, painful way. Not knowing what to do. I should scream, make them pay. But you know who will be to blame. The woman. And of course this is bloody scary, outright dangerous! No wonder women are often afraid to walk alone in the streets. It has happened to me in Portugal, in the UK, in France, in Spain, Mexico. Mostly everywhere I have been to. So, I’m really sorry to disappoint, but our society isn’t that “advanced” as you would think.
I don’t want to be told what to wear, or that I am to blame for the attention. To be told I was asking for it. To be seen as the villain when I’m just trying to make people understand that I am a human being. And I have the same right as a man to walk on the streets alone without fearing harassment. Not being scared of wearing the skirt, or that my boobs are showing too much. I am not asking for it. This is my body. And I am entitled to it. You, the idiot from the crowded tube, aren’t. Unless I tell you so.
No wonder women are told they need a man to be able to live. No wonder girls grow up unconsciously thinking their place and path in the world is somehow limited because they were born with a vagina. I was there before. I probably still am. Partly. I’ve learned to free myself from this. I am not less than a man. And I won’t let anyone tell me otherwise.
So keep saying I’m a mad woman. I guess I’ll be mad until I die. I guess I’ll be the one who cannot handle a joke. The bitch that doesn’t appreciate when a random man on the street makes creepy conversion or says cringely and disgustingly what they would like to do with me. Or when at parties, some stupid idiots feel that is okay to bring a friend near me and say something like “have you seen thiiissss” while pointing at me like I was a new Tesla model. And then getting offended when I tell them to fuck off. “You bitch” they call, “who do you think you are” – I am a human being, you bastard. I won’t accept the “it is what it is”. I’d rather be the bitch, than the one who just stays quiet and endures. I think I owe that to all women everywhere.