It’s no secret — there is inequality existing in the world, and this reality also exists in the gap between men and women.
If you don’t believe this to be the case, it’s time to open your eyes and acknowledge your privilege.
It is possible to do so, you know. For example, in terms of being a woman, I am about as privileged as they come.
White. Straight. First-world. Upper middle class.
If there was a poster-child for a woman who had the best start to propel her through life, I would likely be on that poster.
But that said, I am still a woman, and I am still part of 50% of the population fighting for our right to have equal opportunity and equal respect.
Because I am a woman, I am among the 1/3 who have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime. I am among the 1/5 women who have been raped or almost raped in her lifetime. I am one of the 90% of college women who knew her attacker and didn’t report him. I’m among the 30% of women who experience PTSD-like symptoms following her sexual assault.
I have stories to tell — all women do. And though it’s not our responsibility to publically share our stories, it is incredibly powerful when we do.
They are diverse and clever and heartbreaking and intelligent and unique. By sharing our stories, we are changing the world in dramatic ways.
Despite what the naysayers say, our stories and our voices matter.
And so, we will not be silenced. We will be fearless. And we will write.
Another way to contribute in the fight for equality.
I always struggle with my role as a feminist, wondering if I’m doing enough.
Endlessly guilting myself for not taking action regularly, while simultaneously reminding myself that as a victim it’s not my responsibility to fight every battle, but also chastising myself for not participating in the Woman’s March last year. Etc. etc. etc.
The confliction I am left with is cruel. And I know many women experience this same thing.
But then, I started writing personal essays about my life and experiences, and everything changed.
I’ve learned that through writing my stories about womanhood, I am doing a tremendous amount for the cause, and for other women. This is one of the most significant ways I can do my part.
This may also be a therapeutic outlet for you as well, in processing your experiences, trauma and significant life events.
There is great power in telling our stories and freeing ourselves from their hold on our bodies.
Somewhere, somehow, we’re helping create greater understanding.
Understanding crushes ignorance — it is a sword which breaks through misconception and cuts down to the compassion and empathy underneath.
Sure, there will always be misogynists and sexists online who will try to trivialize our experiences and our trauma, claiming we’re whiny, spoiled and entitled.
But not everyone who carries some form of ignorance is a sexist troll — some simply have not been exposed to the perspective you’ve shared, and are struggling with the discomfort of their privilege for the first time.
And not all of those same readers will be men.
There are enough cases of Mommy Shaming, body shaming and straight up women attacking woman online to shed some serious light on the reality that greater acceptance and understanding is not only needed between genders, it is also needed between fellow women.
Through sharing our stories, we create those important bridges for enlightenment and empowerment, connecting each other in intimate ways.
Each story of struggle from a fellow woman is a new opportunity to build one of those exact bridges.
And that doesn’t even include the fact that we are touching the hearts of others and making real connections with other women who may have otherwise felt alone, until they read our work.
Don’t allow yourself to downplay how beautiful each one of those opportunities are.
Not all women are fighting the same fight.
As I’ve mentioned above, in terms of being a woman I am about as privileged as they come.
I am a white, cis woman born in a first-world country, grew up in an upper-middle class family in the suburbs, had access to educational aids and extracurricular activities throughout my entire life.
I went to university, I’ve graduated with zero student debt (I went to one of the more expensive universities in Canada, with tuition at $8,000 per year, and that number was cut in half because my mother works full-time at the school).
My parents were in a financially secure enough position to allow me a year after I graduated to stay at home at 22 rent-free as I tried to build my social media and copywriting company.
My company became a success in 7 months, and within a year I was buying my own house, also in the suburbs.
I was dealt a damn good hand in life, compared to many others.
In terms of being a woman, I recognize that I have privilege spewing out of every orifice.
That said, the definition of empowerment and equality for me is guaranteed to look different than the definition belonging to a woman of colour living in a third-world country.
Definitions of what women need to achieve gender equality and freedom change based on socioeconomic realities, to geography, to culture.
Many feminists make the mistake of believing that “achieving equality” is a one-size-fits-all blanketed definition — that is simply not the case. And we must appreciate and recognize that reality if we want to properly support one another.
It is NOT our place to tell other women what they require to achieve empowerment and freedom — it is our job to listen to what THEY are telling us they need, and then support them in that fight.
At times, using our ability to listen is far more powerful than using our ability to speak.
There will always be harassers online trying to silence us and trivialize our stories — it’s easier for them to type a comment than holler crude words across the street, so they’re more likely to act online.
But please, fellow women, do not stop writing. Do not stop sharing your stories.
We are impacting the world with our words. We are moving mountains, and making a great difference.
Even if that difference only happens for one reader: a survivor of sexual assault, a single mother just making ends meet, a woman encountering racism every time she is out in public, an office worker who is being groped inappropriately by her boss when no one’s looking…
If even just one reader is reached, and our story struck a cord with them, then our voice has made a difference. Writing our story was worth it. And we are leaving the world in a better place by hitting “Publish”.
So here’s to you, fierce warrior.
Your stories are a battle cry.
I am your one reader, and you continue to inspire me every single day.