I am a woman. And although women’s history month is over, there are still a few things that I would like to bring to the surface. Being a woman, it’s difficult to realize that your experiences with backhanded compliments and creepy men aren’t usually unique. Being a woman is both a gift and a curse.
Something I have never understood is the toxic treatment of women towards each other. Some girls could have a lasting vendetta on a girl who bumped into her in the hallway in 8th grade. Being a listener, I’ve heard countless rumors circulated through the grapevine — including plenty of things about other people that I don’t want to know. These harmful comments have the power to deeply hurt people, and I start thinking to myself “I hope no one is talking about me this way”. Furthermore, there’s often no negative intent behind gossip — people just like to talk about others because of a lack of interest in their own lives. Gossip culture needs to vanish. Growing up is realizing that rumors are for girls, not women.
Women have the capacity to be incredibly kind and strong to each other. She may offer you the choice of a pad or a tampon when you mention you’re on your period, because “we’ve all been there”. When you compliment a woman on her swagger shoes, she tells you she got them at Ross for 40% off because “we don’t gatekeep”. When we see someone in distress we try to see if we could help.
Women are often victims of harmful catcalling and demeaning nicknames. No matter the intention, these can feel incredibly degrading — even something simple, like calling a woman “baby”. The looming word that is “baby” always hits me out of left field, unexpected and strange.
Another way girls are often dehumanized is through unfairly strict dress codes, such as the one at my elementary school. No spaghetti straps, no skirts that go above the knee, no open toed shoes. Personally, I never thought of shoulders to be distracting but knees really get me going, and don’t get me started on toes. Just the whole concept of a dress code prohibiting people, young girls especially (as they rarely targeted boys), is wild. At elementary school age, most boys weren’t worried about how a girl has shoulders, they were more worried about ‘cooties’ and recess, yet the school administrators thought it would be pertinent to enforce these rules.
The struggles that we face as a community shouldn’t be struggles in the first place. No one should be in control of our bodies, not the top dogs at the government, not the photoshopped women on social media telling you that they only consumed Bang energy drinks for a month to get their conventionally attractive, photoshopped body. It’s hard to grasp how much of ourselves other people are in control of — Roe V. Wade being one of the big ones, telling people they cannot terminate an unwanted pregnancy, as if the pregnancy was their business in the beginning. Leave it up to the cookie-cutter people in power, changing up the rules for things that wouldn’t have affected them in the first place.