This year was significant for me as a person, and as a woman – what a learning curve it has been.
It was the year sexism stopped being that thing that happens to others, and started being something that happens, period. Both to me and other women.
Perhaps it’s the feminist Facebook groups, perhaps it’s the intellectual discussions with the members of my department, or perhaps it’s just the things that have happened to me in the workplace.
“Ms. K told me not to call her babe,” complained a co-worker. “I was just saying it to be friendly.”
“That’s not something to make a fuss over,” I thought to myself. That was just about three years ago.
Before the Texan yelled at me in the staff room, and threatened me on the tennis court in front of the students, in the middle of a photo shoot, telling me the fact that I had cried because of his comments was unprofessional, and that if I ever did that again … well, I didn’t let him get that far. When I sought help I was the one J dragged to the other side of the tennis court, like I was the one in the wrong, like I was a criminal that needed to be isolated for everyone’s good. The Texan also tried to buy back my forgiveness a week later with a 5,000 yen Amazon voucher and a note, “Forgiveness is the best form of revenge.” Because I’m that cheap. Because I don’t deserve a vocal apology. Because I’m young. Because I’m female. Because I am nothing.
Before the goatee told me my hobby was sleeping with strangers. Before “Did you forget to take your pill? Is that why you’re so aggressive?” Before he never apologised to me. Because I’m young. Because I’m female. Because I am nothing.
Before the womanizer sent me a drunken e-mail telling me I dressed badIy, I dressed unflatteringly, I dressed frumpily. Telling me I had nice big boobs and a nice big bum, and that I should be proud and flaunt them. Before he laughed it off, like it was nothing. Because I’m young. Because I’m female. Because I am nothing.
Before the betrayal. Before the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Before my beloved and trusted HoD, the one I thought had my back no matter what became just the person who stuck the knife into it. Before his word was taken for it with no verification. Before he lied straight to my face to keep up a good working relationship, bending his own “honesty is always the best policy” rule. Convenient that. The best way to be rid of me. Because I’m young. Because I’m female. Because I am nothing.
Before the Cockney yelled “Imagine saying you’re the Queen’s gynecologist!”
Texan: “Eww! Maybe if she were 25!”
Right, because only young women and their young lady bits deserve to have sexual health care.
These are the things that have stayed with me, and made me want to scream and throw desks out of the window and pull my hair out and rake my nails down my arms in anger. Anger for what has been done to me, and even more for what has been and is being done to women less fortunate than I every day that goes by.
Every magazine that slams a woman for having cellulite, for having “let herself go,” for being bigger than a size 10, for daring to be less than perfect, is another nail in the coffin.
Every violence, every rape, every leer, every wolf whistle makes my blood boil until I’m afraid I will spontaneously combust.
“Real women _________.” This is BS. If you have a vagina, or if you identify as a woman, if you live and breathe, you are a real woman. If you identify as something else, that’s your reality, no one has the right to decide for you, or tell you how to feel, or be.
I must thank the perpetrators. Without them I would have continued to live in my castle in the sky, to think that sexism was all in women’s heads.
Without them I would not be angry.
Without them I would not have the rage enough to speak out.
I will scream until you hear it. Until your ears bleed. Until you have no choice but to listen.
This is me. This is my rebellion. I have a voice. And you will hear it.
Goodness, that was a very angry and emotional post, wasn’t it? But I’m glad I’ve gotten it all off my chest, very cathartic. As you can probably tell, I’ve been though a lot this year, but I’m actually very grateful for it all. I have learned a lifetime’s worth of stuff in a working environment where I have not always felt safe (something I would never have believed possible), more than I could ever have imagined, and hopefully it will serve me well in the future and I’m stronger for it. Here’s to a wonderful 2014 – I’m ready, so bring it on!
Happy New Year to you, lovelies! Stay awesome, just the way you are.