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Being a Woman in 2019

Saturday, March 9, 2019


Yesterday, March 8th, was International Women’s Day. This year’s theme is #balanceforbetter, meant to promote a future where both women and men are equal in professional status, media perception, positions held, and much more. This year for International Women’s Day, I wanted to ponder for a moment what it is like for me to be a woman in 2019.

Womanhood isn’t something I think about all the time. I don’t wake up every day like Ke$ha screaming, “I’m a motherfucking woman!” The majority of the time, I wake up and assume my role without question. I participate in social norms by having long hair, groomed body hair, dressing feminine, and wearing makeup. I am fortunate enough to be okay with doing these things, so I’m not perceived as a leper in society.

Except shaving my armpits. Can we talk about that tangent for a second? Honestly, I loathe the person that started the armpit shaving trend and the ads, celebrities, etc, that made this a societal norm. My skin is sensitive and it really sucks shaving that every few days. I wish I was brave enough to stop shaving them, but since I wear a lot of sleeveless tops, I feel gross and unprofessional if my hair is longer than half an inch. This is one thing I do wish was truly balanced for men and women. Why do I have to shave my armpits to be accepted if you don’t have to shave yours? RAGE.

But other than the hot topic of body hair, I surprisingly feel close to having a men/women balance in my own life in some places. I am fortunate to work in an office environment where women are in more leadership roles than men. Unlike the average workplace, I don’t feel a sense of misogyny because I have female bosses that value my opinion. My sisters aren’t as lucky in their workplaces and tell me horror stories of blatant disregard for their ideas because of their gender. (I don’t care who you are, your reproductive organs do not determine how intelligent you are, so can we please stop disrespecting people because of their gender?

Even though I am surrounded by women in my office, I do still deal with mansplaining. Nothing is more annoying than having a man explain something to you that you already know about. It has improved the longer I have been at my job (about 2 years), but it is still something I have to deal with regularly. When talking to other women I’m close to, it seems to me they also deal with this often in their environment. I have also experienced an uncomfortable situation with a man twice my age “pursuing” me at work. Luckily, my boss believed me when I told her about it and took care of it quietly. Thank God for that balance at work, because I’m not sure if anyone else would have taken me seriously.

While I may experience an equal balance at work, I can feel how the scale is tipped against other women within politics and the media. The way the media portrays women angers me. Any woman showing passion, or a strong position is considered too emotional. The media spends more time discussing what designer women are wearing, rather than focusing on their brains. News media also allows fewer women television anchors to report real news versus their male counterparts.

Apart from news media, men still dominate Hollywood as writers, actors, directors, and producers. While women are steadily growing in these fields, inequality is still apparent. All female films, or films with females leading the cast are still rare enough that when it does happen, we talk about it. I believe true balance will come when women in power roles in Hollywood is so normal we don’t discuss it as a big deal anymore.

I don’t really want to get too deep in politics, but I believe women know the disparity here. One thing I will say is I find it interesting that male politicians tell “little girls” to quiet down and perceive them as stupid when they disagree. Yet, male politicians can spout ideas and harass women on social media, with little to no consequences. I also feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone 90% of the time when politicians continue to introduce and pass legislation that deals with my own body. I haven’t seen any legislation passed that tells men what they can’t and can’t do with their penis in 2019.

Bringing things back down to a micro level, there are things I do struggle with as a woman in 2019. I’m afraid of walking alone, so I carry pepper spray or my keys like a knife. My sisters participate in conceal carry for their own safety. Even when my sister and I attend concerts together, we walk quickly, check exit points, take special care where we park the car, and triple check Uber drivers in fear that we will become a statisitc. I can confidently say that no man in my family has ever whispered to me that they are afraid of walking alone.

When I’m not concerned with my safety, I listen to choruses of people asking when I’m getting married, when I’m having children, or if I have children. My oldest sister is turning 30 this year, and I know she is plagued by the question of when she wants to have children like she has a ticking time clock on her uterus. I don’t believe her husband is treated the same way, as if when he passes the age of 35 his penis will off, preventing him from having children. Every day if I am not told the “have to dos” of my gender, a friend is telling me about something someone said to her.

After finding a husband and starting a family, we have to adhere to beauty standards. At the ripe age of 23, I’m noticing my forehead is becoming wrinkled, wondering when I am supposed to start anti-aging products. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to keep a baby smooth canvas until I’m in my late 60s, when I already feel like my age is showing. I am also pulling out grey hair strands, counting the days to when I have to color my hair to prevent grey from showing, wishing that grey hair made women look “distinguished.”

But even at the end of the day, reading all of these articles and looking at the facts of my gender in 2019, I don’t have it bad compared to other women. I haven’t become a statistic in sexual assault, violence, or in an unequal workplace. I don’t live in an undeveloped country where I wouldn’t have been able to go to school when I’m on my period. There aren’t laws (yet) in America that dictates what I can wear, or takes away my driving privilege because I’m a woman. And I personally believe (at least for a straight white female) that we are slowly closing the gap on gender equality.

There is obviously more work to be done, which is why I continue to fight for #balanceforbetter, even when being a woman for me in 2019 isn’t terrible. It is my hope that one day my future daughter, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, or niece could write their own blog post about being a woman and without question show how great being a woman in their time is and how there truly is a balance between the genders for them.

“The day may be approaching when the whole world will recognize woman as the equal of man.” - Susan B. Anthony

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