Are Your Struggles as a Woman Valid No Matter Where You Are?
I woke up the other, straightened my hair, put on an outfit that made me feel like a badass working woman, threw on a pair of black heels and finished it off with red lipstick.
Run the World by Beyonce was on repeat.
It was International Women’s Day and I was celebrating by being my best version of myself. By owning who I am, who I want to be. I didn’t feel good — I felt great.
I think all the time about what it means to be a woman in this country, in this world.
How many times have you heard someone say something along the lines of “My boyfriend dumped me but at least I’m not a starving kid in Africa.” A little extreme. Or maybe “I can’t afford to go on the spring break trip with my friends but at least my parents are still alive.” Also extreme.
My point is that a lot of things suck, and we compare our struggles to ridiculous things that truly can’t even compare. If you have it bad, someone has it worse. And that’s probably true — but the fact that you have it bad is also true!
We don’t need to diminish how much something sucks by comparing it to others, but we do thinking it will make us feel better. We’re wrong, it doesn’t. In fact, it makes us feel guilty for thinking our problems are problems to begin with. That’s problematic because everyone’s problems matter, regardless of scale.
If it matters to you, it matters.
I thought about this on International Women’s Day because the United States is not the worst place in the world to be a woman. I’m thinking of the documentary “Period. End of Sentence.” which won an Oscar this year and can be found on Netflix.
There are places where women can’t talk about having a period. There are places where women just started being able to drive last year. There are places where women are sold off as bridges. Where they can’t show their face, leave their homes past a certain hour, get a job.
In context, being a woman in the United States does not seem like a comparably bad thing.
And yet, it is. #MeToo is as relevant as ever. Women face constant sexism in the workplace. It’s one of the only first world countries without mandatory paid maternity leave.
My friends and I feel scared of taking public transportation or walking around the city by ourselves. Date rapes happened on my college campus as publicly as two years ago. I’ve felt inferior to my male counterparts on multiple occasions.
Being a woman in the United States is not the worst, but it’s not easy and it’s still not where it needs to be.
I called my mom for a quick phone call today. She filled me in on the Bachelor episode “Women Tell All.” She was telling me about the women screaming at each other and how it was hilarious. One even apparently threw a pacifier at one of the other women. It’s 2019 and we still call women fighting over a man in this way entertainment?
I talked about this in my review of Isn’t It Romantic recently as well, discussing how in entertainment, women are shown as bratty and catty in the workplace. They can’t be equals, because they are positioned as each other’s competition. We don’t always see strong examples of women supporting one another.
I try to stick up for the handful of other women in my office and make a difference when I can that way. I have their backs and I know they have mine.
Why isn’t that story told as often as it should be?
Three of us had dinner and drinks together the other night, and you know how easy it was to pass the IRL Bechdel Test? A piece of cake. So why is it so hard for a movie to pass it?
Hayley’s Thoughts on: Isn’t It Romantic
A non-industry perspective on everything about the industry
My friend also told me his company is striving to have a certain percentage of women in high positions in the workplace by the end of 2020.
That number? 20%.
That’s it, they want 20% of women in leadership roles. What the heck is that number right now, and since when were women 20% of the population, or the workplace for that matter?
We have some serious work to get done if 20% is considered impressive.
As I said, it’s not easy to be a woman in the United States.
I’m lucky to have surrounded myself with some of the coolest, badass women who are strong and beautiful representations of feminism.
For example, I FaceTimed my coworker on Friday. She was holding her 4-month-old child on the phone, bouncing him up and down and saying “Go ladies! Go women!” It’s never too early to start them young. She’s doing it right.
Sonya Jackson is my coworker, my friend and one of my idols. Her stories from her time in the corporate world and transitioning into the creative industries, her stories from her time as often “the only” African American and female in the room, her stories of striving to help other women and minorities achieve their dreams… I’m inspired by her daily.
One of my many girl crushes, Sophia Bush, is doing so much amazing work for the cause, here in the US and in other areas of the world. She shows us what persistence and hard work can accomplish, and how to use your platform for good.
My mom, for raising me to think like this, to use my brain and smarts constantly and to not let anyone dull my shine. She showed me that being selfless can be the most rewarding thing and that the choices you make are the right ones.
She was and is a stay at home mom my entire life. I could never do that. But her choice was made knowing that she was raising four children who were going to make the world a better place, and that was her contribution. I love her for that.
As the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt theme song tells us…
“Females are strong as hell.”
The United States and the world has a long way to go in terms of feminism aka equality of the sexes and genders. Just because it sucks more somewhere else doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still suck here for you, at this moment.
Those are the moments I think of all the women I just mentioned, among others. Some days it’s okay to cry, to quit, to lay in bed all day. And then the next day, I remember them and I’m back to championing the cause and the women around me.
Who runs the world? Girls.
Make it this far? If you did, answer this question in the comments:
Who is a woman you admire and why?