Women's Day 2021: Smash the Patriarchy

Every so often, my female friends and I will reach the topic of patriarchy in our conversations about societal norms. It isn’t necessarily a constructive conversation, but a space to air out our complaints and receive sympathy for our unfair experiences.

Why do women have to take on the burden of taking birth control, which can often be body-altering, annoying to take, and/or invasive?

Why are women expected to be this innocent, hairless, youthful creatures who are both sexy but not sexually promiscuous, who are slim and thick? 

Why do we have to advocate for ourselves and negotiate so often with men in our jobs and healthcare? Or the opposite where we are skipped over in conversations and the salespeople and doctors only speak to the men we’re with/the men around us’?

I can only speak to my experiences as a cis-gender, mixed-race woman. For those who may identify differently, I am sure these same woes are amplified. Which is why intersectional feminism and collective action is necessary to create progress for all. To also add a bit of a disclaimer that unfortunately a lot patriarchal societal norms are often outside of our control and we are unable to change society overnight.

As someone who has for so long tried to repress their own sexuality and conform to patriarchal gender norms and then realized they have internalized the male gaze; I have spent the last few years practicing ‘self-growth.’ Smash the Patriarchy to me, means to be confident in myself, to make my own money and decisions, and to demand the same respect white male counterparts receive. I want aim to be so comfortable in my own female body and confident in my unique personality and knowledge that there is no choice but to respect me, and here are a few ways we can do this together: 

  1. 1. Own Your Sexuality

    Black Heels on wood floor

    This one can be so fun but also very intimidating at first and varies based on what you want to express, which for me is very feminine. But ways to accomplish this is by buying that cute lingerie set for yourself. Take those risqué photos, even if you never share it with anyone. My personal favourite way of embracing my sexuality, is if you get the chance, take a heels dance class! I love dancing and it’s so empowering being in a room full of sexy women all vibing to great music. It’s also a great workout! If you live in Vancouver, try a Luminesque dance class because your first class is free. But the real fun is signing up for their semester long dance course and get to create costumes and dance on stage, all while being super mindful of Covid-19!  

  2. 2. Experiment With Your Physcial Appearance 

    woman in robe and towel wiping face

    This one is tricky because on hand, rejecting societal norms can lead to internalizing the male gaze and patriarchy, as in by rejecting patriarchal societal norms by outwardly trying to express yourself in alternative ways, you are giving them the power by making yourself uncomfortable or changing for them. But on the other, conforming means having to do things that may also feel unnatural or uncomfortable for you.

    The goal here is to do things for yourself! Shave your legs because you want to and enjoy the feeling of smooth skin. Or don’t shave your legs because it makes your sensitive skin irritable or whatever the reason, don’t feel the need to explain yourself to anyone! Also, realize that women have hair everywhere and genetics and certain conditions like PCOS can influence how much body hair you have. Self-exploration can help you learn why you present yourself the way you do and help you do so with confidence. 

  3. 3. Speak Your Mind

    two women talking

    Do you want to be on birth control? Do you want a pap smear? Do you want to try out a different role at work, or get a promotion or raise that you’ve earned? Advocate for yourself. I am generally not one to fear retaliation. Whenever I hear men speaking negatively or being sexist or misogynistic towards women, I let them know that that isn’t okay. It can be scary, and each scenario requires consideration of surrounding factors, but if you feel uncomfortable in any situation, ask yourself why. If you find the discomfort is because of what another persons’ actions, I encourage you to speak your mind and tell them how their actions make you feel and why it is wrong.

The main objective is to find create space for yourself, your passions, and your thoughts in a society that is dominated by patriarchy and sexism. You deserve better and the best person to advocate for that is yourself! Now go out there and smash the patriarchy this Women’s Day and every day.