I’m listening to James Brown’s “This is a Man’s World” as I write this. Get me in the zone, you know?
Let me open this post by acknowledging that I am privileged and fortunate and sheltered. However, there are a few things that I know about living the life of a girl and a woman in this world.
Being a woman means being taught at an early age to go to the bathroom in pairs so there’s always someone to run for help in a worst-case scenario.
Being a woman means feeling anxious when walking alone at night. It means being hyper aware of every sound and shadow. It means crossing the street when you see a figure coming towards you.
Being a woman means being told to not help strangers stranded on the side of the road, for fear it’s a trap.
Being a woman means getting the roofie talk as a teenager, and learning how to look after your drink, and being told to buy a new one if it has ever been out of your sight.
Being a woman means staying behind at the end of a school day (post-secondary) while the men in your class get to go home, because the school director is giving tips to the women on protecting themselves from an attacker, since there have been several assaults in the area during the past two weeks.
Being a woman means having the feeling in the back of your mind that you should probably take a self defence course.
Being a woman means listening to men brag about their reproductive organs while knowing it’s a social faux pas to mention your period or anything related to it.
Being a woman means having men not understand the word no when you don’t want to give them your phone number.
Being a woman means making up a boyfriend or using your real boyfriend as an excuse to not talk to a man, because he won’t take no otherwise.
Being a woman means wearing a fake wedding ring in the hopes that you will be left alone.
Being a woman means fighting to protect your body in a world of handsy men.
Being a woman means being pleasantly surprised when a man accepts your no, wishes you a goodnight, and leaves without making you feel unnecessarily uncomfortable or unsafe.
Being a woman means not being surprised that dozens of your female friends on Facebook are posting “Me too” as their status update, and assuming that there are dozens more who are not ready to tell that story to the world.
This list does not include some of the more terrible aspects of womanhood that this world has given us. Things like sexual assault, things like fearing for your job if you report an assault, things like having the judicial system not take your case seriously, even after it took every ounce of courage you could find within yourself to tell strangers about it. Things that still happen every day, but really shouldn’t happen at all.
But being a woman also means (because I am still one of the more fortunate ones in this world) having the opportunity to have your voice heard as you stand up for what you believe in.
Being a woman also means having control over your own reproductive health.
Being a woman also means having the opportunity to choose a partner in your life that will support you, or choosing not to have a partner.
Being a woman also means having the opportunity to choose motherhood, or not.
Being a woman also means knowing that there are men out there who are good guys, and want to see the same change you do.
Being a woman also means getting to stand in solidarity with other women.
Being a woman also means (this one’s my favourite) having the opportunity to teach young girls and boys that girls are important and smart and beautiful and have worth beyond their bodies.
This one is to all the folks out there who know women are just as cool as men. Thanks for reading.