Let me preface this article with a note to men.
If you are a male—especially a white male—my hope is that you can read this with an open mind and heart. I’m not here to judge or blame or be a man-hater.
In fact, I love men. Some of my best friends are men. And I think that most of you are good men.
But, just like I am re-examining the racism that seems to be in my DNA on a daily basis—passed down for hundreds of thousands of years—I’m asking you to read this with an open mind, and possibly re-examine the sexism that has been passed down to you.
Because you don’t know what it is like to be a woman, and you never really will. Just like I will never know what it is really like to be any race other than white.
It’s not your fault, but it is your responsibility to bring it out into the light. I’m asking you to read this article like it is written by your sister or your daughter or your mother or your wife; or any other woman in your life that you deeply care for and love.
I am 28 years old.
I’ve been in more compromising situations with men than I’d like to recount. And I know that there are women all over the world who have been through far worse circumstances and violence than I can even imagine.
I’m not special. I can’t think of one woman I know who has not experienced sexism in some capacity.
I know there are many women who don’t have the opportunity or capability to speak out about what has happened to them. So, this is my best attempt at this point in my life to give those women some kind of voice; and frankly, to give myself a voice about the things I’ve never been brave enough to talk about.
Last weekend, I received a very inappropriate text message and Facetime request from a guy from my past who is now married. I’m leaving out the details of this particular message because I think you can use your imagination, and I don’t want to limit this discussion to one small example. This example is only the catalyst, but it’s not necessarily the most important one.
In the past, as a younger version of myself, I would have just ignored the messages. But I can’t do that anymore.
I realised that every time I “let it go,” I live at half my capacity. It’s like it makes me shrink just a little bit more. It makes me less willing to open up to any man or relationship. And I am no longer willing to live half of a life.
Because I’m tired of it.
I’m tired of being objectified. I’m tired of derogatory comments and degrading messages. And I’m tired of men talking about pieces of my body like they know more about them than I do. I’m tired of my body being treated like something to conquer; when no one else knows the war I’ve had to win in order to love my physicality in its entirety.
I’m tired of censoring my outfits because it might come across as provocative and I might be called a bad name (or worse). I’m tired of not feeling safe enough to look men in the eyes because they might think I’m flirting; and then who knows what happens next. I’m tired of being followed like a prey animal, and I’m tired of making excuses for poor behaviour from men. I’m tired of the argument that men should earn more because they’re supposed to buy women dinner on dates. And I’m tired of the expectation for more.
I’m tired of it all.
But I’m not blaming men. I mean, they need to do better, but the only way they will do better is if we, as women, raise the bar.
Women have let this go on too long.
When racist words come out of my mouth that I am unaware of, I hope that someone I love holds me accountable. That’s not who I want to be.
I don’t think men (at least, most men) want to be sexist. So, let’s lovingly call them out and help them grow.
It’s up to us, ladies. To hold all the men in our lives accountable.
Sexism shows up as big, newsworthy items every day, but most of the sexism we encounter is in the little daily, seemingly inconsequential moments.
Things that get said that rub us the wrong way, but that are easier to let go as “not a big deal.” Eyes that undress you when you’re checking out at the grocery store. Feeling silenced because you’re the only woman in the room.
No longer. I’m fucking over it and I hope you are too. Because the only way that we make a change, just like with racism, is if we are all on the same page. We, as women, need to take responsibility for our role in allowing this to go on. We need to step up for each other, and for the men in our lives too.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some men out there who don’t want to change or accept that sexism is real. We can’t change people, but we do have the power to choose who will be in our lives. Those men don’t have a place here in my life anymore.
And ladies, hear me when I say: get the help you need if you are in a dangerous situation. Please don’t put your life at risk. That’s a whole different situation. For the purposes of this article, I’m hoping you understand what I mean. I’m talking about the opportunities we have every day to be feminists. Because the small moments are everything.
And ladies, This. Is. On. Us.
Feminism isn’t about man-hating and it’s not about burning bras. That was never the point of the women’s rights movement.
To me, feminism is about choosing and fighting for a world that I want my daughters and granddaughters and sisters to grow up in.
And we’ve got some work to do.