Why I Love (and Hate) Being a Woman

I’ll say it: I am proud of being a woman. Like really f*cking proud. But it’s definitely not easy. I grew up with an incredible family who preached to me constantly that I could be anything I wanted and could do whatever I wanted. My childhood finally felt like the time for women to take the reins and be boss ass bitches in every realm of life. And while that IS totally true, there are most definitely restraints that we have to acknowledge. 


    I have two brothers, both older. They are both incredible and smart men and I love them endlessly. But there are things that my brothers could and can do that I know I cannot. My brother would spontaneously go hiking or camping on the weekends while he was in high school, sometimes by himself. And while I am also fully capable of doing the same, my parents would tell me, “Ab, it’s dangerous for girls to be out by themselves”. And that was just the way it was. I know at 20 years old that they really are just looking out for me. They didn’t want their high school age daughter out alone at night, or alone out of the public eye. I get that, I do. I’d say the same to my daughter, if I had one. But for me, it is the principle of the fact that we are still in a time - one that I’m not sure we will ever fully escape - where women and girls are more vulnerable. And not just in situations that arguably seem superficial or unimportant, like camping or going out or walking down the street. The idea that I can’t go out at night without feeling genuine fear that I might be targeted is genuinely upsetting. This is not to say that men have also not felt that kind of fear or vulnerability, but in certain ways, I cannot help but feel that there has to be someone else looking out for me - besides myself. And that kinda f*cking sucks.


    I am currently in the process of planning to study abroad. As an IR major and a French minor, my parents really pushed France while I am insistent on South Africa. And while my negotiating skills are top of the line, they are seemingly not enough to persuade my parents to allow me to live at a home stay, with a local family. On the phone, my response was “But Justin [my brother] got to stay at a homestay!” [as opposed to at a local university], they responded with, “But you’re a girl...and it’s different”. And yes, I am. And I know and understand these worries, but it will never not be frustrating to me that I will never have the same opportunities as my male counterparts, regardless of my ability, due to my gender. Different countries have different views of women and of their worth and it is impossible not to take that into consideration. Violence against women is a very real issue. According to the UN, up to 70% of women have experienced sexual assault and that number is not inclusive of micro-aggressions or other misconduct based on the way they look. It is difficult for me to know that even as an adult, there is such an intense need for all of us to constantly be hyper-aware. 


    It comes down to the sheer fact that no matter how much improvement we have made in regards to women’s rights, these rights are still not equivalent to those of our counterparts. We will always have to be on watch, for our bodies and for our opportunities until some societal change has been made.