One of the most grating things for me is to hear someone say my opinion/argument/insight is ‘illogical’ or ‘irrational’ because I am a woman. When I am made to feel that anything I say is just the result of ‘emotions’ because I am female.
Parts of me suffocate each day when my inputs are discarded because I said them but the same input from a man is accepted because anything that comes out of a man’s mouth is “intelligent” and “rational”, when I am told impatiently, “don’t behave like a woman” as though being a woman is the worst thing one can do.
This thought that women are innately foolish creatures is so universally ingrained in everyone’s psyche that anything which women enjoy is seen as less than. Fiction which women enjoy becomes ‘chick-lit’. Movies which women watch become ‘chick-flicks’. Hobbies which we pursue are seen as pointless. A woman who is feminine is seen as vapid. Us women have internalized these thoughts too. We want to be perceived as more intellectual and be taken seriously by the men around us. So we think and sometimes say ‘I am not like other girls/women’ to be accepted by the men we want to be respected by. We consider it a compliment when men tell that to us, not realizing that we are betraying our sisters just for the approval of some man.
Writing this hurts. It hurts when I think about what my children will be exposed to. If I have a daughter, will she learn to see herself as lesser? Will she believe that masculine characteristics are the ‘default’ for all human beings and feminine traits are something that need to be corrected? If I have a son will he grow up thinking he’s better just because he’s male? Will he not take me seriously when he grows up? When I try to raise him to be a good person will he see it as ‘nagging’?
To the women reading this I have one request- don’t minimize yourself or let others minimize who you are. Hold your ground. When a male colleague tries to pass of your idea as his own, say ‘I just said that’. Be okay with making people uncomfortable when they try to dull your shine. Please stand up for other women. Don’t forward or share sexist jokes. Don’t laugh at jokes that make an entire gender seem vacuous. Call out loved ones who do the same. This is emotional labor you shouldn’t have to undertake, and I understand if at times it is the last thing you want to do, but this is something we have to do to make sure our daughters and sons have a less toxic environment to grow up in.
To men reading this, please watch your words, actions, and thoughts. Please observe how you react to women and how you behave in conversations/debates with them. Stop believing that masculine traits are the be all end all. Stop being ashamed of femininity. Don’t hide parts of you that you think are feminine. Being emotional is not a feminine trait. Empathy is not a feminine trait. Kindness and gentleness are not feminine traits. These are what makes us human. Please step up and do more to make sure the women in your life and women in general are not alienated in their own homes/relationships/ work spaces. Take some ownership and educate other men about these issues. Learn and teach them about ‘gaslighting’ and how they do it to their partners and other women in their lives. Make them relearn what they were taught about men and women.
I am exasperated and tired at this point. It’s 2017. Hundreds and thousands of women and I shouldn’t have to write and voice this. Millions of women shouldn’t have to feel this way. So please, listen and understand and back us. That’s all I have to say. That’s all I can say without going hoarse.
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