If you had asked me a year ago, “Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?” I would have told you married, with kids, and being a full out housewife / soccer mom. I had no desire to pursue a life long career or take the world by storm. I felt like I had a pretty impactful college career and that was enough for me.
However, I have since realized that I lived a very gender equitable life up until my entrance into the real world. Growing up, I was allowed to play with whatever toys I wanted to play with. I built Little Tikes construction with my cousins, made kinex robots, built Lego fortresses, played with my dollhouse, dressed up like every imaginable creature, and ran around outside in the woods. I was always allowed to make my own choices, whether deemed a “girl” or “boy” choice by societal standards.
My grandmother definitely struggled a bit realizing I was never going to jump for joy with each new Barbie she gave me. But even she came around to the fact that I could make whatever choices I wanted whether they fell into society’s “girl” column or “boy” column.
My friends at school were the same way. I never remember being teased by boys because I was a girl. (nothing beyond the usually cooties phase at least) I never had a teacher who said, “Girls do this, boys do that.” You were a student, a kid, and just a human whatever you did.
Middle school and high school were much the same. I don’t have many distinct memories where I felt I was treated differently solely because of my gender. College as well. There were no real moments where I remember any type of gender inequality.
In fact at all my jobs and internships, guys and girls were given the same tasks. We all rotated through the good and the tasks. The heavy lifting to the sitting and tallying guests.
At one of my internships, I worked with an organization who’s goal is to lessen the gender gap between men and women. I was absolutely clueless, and ignorant, about gender inequality because I had never experienced it first hand. I just couldn’t believe that females were paid less, given less, or treated any differently because of their gender. I thought, “There’s no way the world has actually been allowing females to be paid less solely because they are females for this long, someone must have fixed that.”
Well now, at 22, I can say I have lived it and it has never fueled my fire more. I’m not saying I’m ready to burn my bra in the street or never get married, but I have more passion now to take the world by storm than I ever have before. I have been told so many times that I cannot do something because I am female. This has motivated to prove to everyone that I am strong, smart, and savvy because of my hard work and dedication not because of my gender.
I have had men tell me they only talked to me because of my “sweet little voice.” People tell me not to lift something or move something because I’m a girl. That because my boxing gloves are pink, I’m such a “girl” kickboxer. (whatever the #$%^ that means) Because I can cook well and bake delicious things I’m destined for a life of housewife greatness.
I’m not saying I’m a gender equality purist. There are many times when I say, “You’re a guy, you kill the spider.” Or, “I’m a girl I’m not getting dirty, you take out that trash.” There’s also times where I make fun of myself for being a girl. I am the first to jump on a “females belong in the kitchen joke.”
I’m also not saying I never want a man to help me, or to get rid of chivalry, or never get married. But I definitely want to be with someone who respects me for me and treats me as an equal.
I guess I feel like I owe an apology to everyone who’s been fighting the gender equality battle for so long. I was ignorant. I didn’t get it because I hadn’t experienced it. I had a view of feminist and feminism that was so far from what the definition of the words actually are.
If you all thought you were escaping this post without a Beyonce GIF, you are out of luck. In her song “Flawless” she draws sound clips from Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s TEDx talk about feminism. Adichie’s definition of the word feminist is how I view myself in this movement:
When people would say they were intimidated by me, I used to feel bad about myself and try and alter my behavior. But now I say, “Good, you should be.” I’m smart, outspoken, creative, and driven. I will take this world by storm. Not because I’m a female, but because I’m a capable, motivated person.
I have the motivation now, more than ever, to follow my passions and my dreams and make a
big a$$ name for myself. I thank every single person over the past year or so who has said to me, “You (can’t / shouldn’t ) do that or be that because you are a girl,” because you have fueled my fire.