The thought has never crept up into my mind. I have never once wished I wasn’t a woman. There are so many downsides to being born in a body like ours; whether it be cultural or induced by society, the negatives are too easy to point out.
From being seen as less than the other sex to daily pressures on how we ought to look, speak, walk and even eat – oh, and don’t even get me started on periods or the fact that we have to bring humans to this world from down there!
On the inside, I never ever felt less than. I never questioned whether I could do something or not based on how my chest size differed from my male friends or colleagues and when we hung out I made sure I always spoke as loudly and firmly as they did. I didn’t act that way necessarily because I was trying hard to, I just did because it felt natural. Most of my friends while growing up were male and I guess that was a factor that played a part in my thoughts and behaviour today.
Of course, as I grew older, I began to notice the difference in treatment and expectations. It became clear to me that in the eyes of the social circle I was in that being male or female determined a lot about the path you were expected to embark on.
I remember getting into heated debates in my early teens with my male friends about feminism and things women should or shouldn’t be ‘allowed’ to do. Not sure I really knew what feminism was at that time, but while some of those debates got loud and ugly, they were useful in shaping my ideas of a woman’s place in this world.
It was inescapable the discrimination I felt as I grew older. While shopping with friends, whenever I’d ask a member of staff for information, they would always direct their answer towards the male companion present. Like I was smart enough to formulate the question but not quite enough to understand the answer. Hmm, explain that.
Being around ‘male energy’ didn’t necessarily turn me into a tomboy per
Having a lot of male friends, however, forced me to speak my mind at all times because they sure as hell did without hesitation. They were never apologetic about the way they felt about their opinions and were never scared to speak up about their ideals or act however they felt like. Obviously, this had a lot to do with what might be described as their unfair advantage in society as well as them knowing they often had less consequences and could always get away with more.
If I’m being honest, I don’t think I ever fully gained as much confidence as they had despite being in that space because although I tried to ignore it, I was very much aware of the standards I was expected to live by. I was very much aware that I was a girl and that I couldn’t turn the norms around even if I wanted to, or at least that’s what I thought.
Despite that, however, I always believed every woman had it in her to be a badass female unapologetically and independently of other people’s views. At the end of high school, my oral exam was on women and feminism in the countries I’ve lived in, which I chose because I knew I could speak on it from the different times in my life and cultures I’ve been influenced by. This is why I really appreciate the fact that I was exposed to so many different cultures at a young age: it widened my view and I saw life in a very different way due to that.
On one hand, I saw a culture where women were basically ‘taught’ to be less than, a culture where some women actually ended up believing that for themselves and would laugh out loud at the idea that they could be equal to their male partners. On the other hand, I met different types of women whose reality and way of life couldn’t be more further from the first. They never took no for an answer, demanded to be treated just the same as their partners and would manage jobs, kids and families in a way that was almost superhuman.
I still have a long way to go before I become the woman I hope to be in order to let go and allow myself the freedom to untie that knot designed by societal standards and pressures.
I wish to live in a world where strong women aren’t depicted on television as cold or emotionally broken. A world where women are as outspoken as their male peers without shame or fear to be seen as hostile or bitchy. A place where female education is prioritised in all parts of the world and climbing up the ladder in the work setting doesn’t have to be ten times harder. I dream of a time when a woman’s anger will not be labelled negatively or her assertiveness as unfriendliness. I dream of a day when we will no longer have to discuss female empowerment and rights because it would be an issue of the past, something to ridiculous to be debated.
The woman I want to be is strong, care-free and opinionated. Someone who can laugh and then cry but take every single lesson is stride. A woman who is confident, competent and yet wears her heart of her sleeve. A woman that can get along with other women and raise them up instead of tear them down.
I still have a long way to go, but one day, I’ll be her. I know I’ll be her.
Your restless romantic roamer