Interviewer’s Introductions: Welcome to my second of several articles based around women’s rights worldwide (Read the first one here)! This series is meant to bring awareness to people who may not know what life is like in different countries as a woman. None of this is for debate, as it is the interviewee’s opinion and view of their own country and their experiences within it. Thank you!
1. What is your full name?
Ayla Claire Terrusa.
2.How old are you? Do you feel like your age has affected your worldview? How so?
I am 22 years old. I do think my age has contributed to my worldview as I have seen some important, monumental, and tragic things happen in this world throughout my life. More than my age, I think the people who have been surrounding my whole life changed how I view the world more. I grew up with older parents who lived through some momentous things in this country.
3.What is your gender and preferred pronouns?
My gender is female and I use she/her pronouns.
4. Do you think sexuality is perceived differently from where you live compared to the rest of the world?
I do think sexuality is perceived differently where I live compared to the rest of the world. There is a long way to go still in the USA, but compared to other places in this world, I do appreciate that some progress has been made. In certain places, such as St Petersburg, Florida where I currently live, one can find a space where it is mostly safe to express yourself. However, one must also recognize the inherent risk that still exists in many places in America for those who choose to express themselves and are met with hate and violence.
5. Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why or why not?
Yes, I absolutely do. In the words of Emma Watson, “If you believe in equality, you’re a feminist. Sorry to tell you.” I do absolutely believe in equality for all regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, sex etc. I recognize and stand behind the sacrifice made by feminists that have come before me, which granted me many of the rights that I enjoy today. I wish to continue that work so women everywhere across the world can one day stand on equal footing.
6. In your personal experience how do you think your life differs from a mans?
My life differs from a man in many ways. Firstly, I am constantly vigilant of my surroundings, this is because as a woman I have to be aware that violence against me is a very real possibility. I am constantly nervous when I am around strange men, this is a fear that is deep rooted in thousands and thousands of years of men acting violently against women. Another major difference in my life compared to a man is that I am constantly having to prove my competence, to those around me. As a young woman in my field, I always hear, “oh wow I didn’t expect you to be so professional”, “I didn’t expect you to be so knowledgeable” this doubt in my capability is tied to my gender in a way that is not present for a man. Throughout my life, I will be faced with obstacles that men will not.
7. What are some things that you think of as a woman but wish you didn’t have to?
There are many things that I have to think about as a woman that men do not have to think about. I think about the image I’m presenting; I think about validating my decisions and choices; I think about the fight for control over my body. I also think about what I say so I do not come off as cold or overly flirty; I also think about the fact that I have to work so much harder to obtain the same respect a man in my same position is just freely granted. As a woman there are many things I think about.
8.Do you think customs for women are different where you are compared to the rest of the world? If yes, how so?
Yes, I do. In this country I am not bound to customs as some women are. For example, in some countries women do not get to choose who they marry. Although here in America, I am slightly bound by certain customs such as taking my husband’s last name, the customs are fairly less harmful in this country than they are in others. That is not to say that there are not harmful customs that exist within some families in America; however, they are less overarching here.
9. How do you see your privilege in your life compared to women from around the world?
My privilege compared to women from around the world is immense. Not only do I have a privilege that others around the world do not because of where I was born, I also have privilege that must be recognized as a white woman in this country. While things for me as a woman in America are not perfect, and I do feel the sting of inequality, it is naught compared to those who do not have my skin tone here in my own country. Recognizing this privilege is extremely important so that it is understood that while my gender has certainty come with its own struggles, my skin tone, and place of birth did not contribute to those struggles. I know that as an American woman, I have many more rights than some of those in other countries, and I am blessed with more safety and protection then those in countries that see women as significantly less than.
10. Does your country make it easier or harder to follow your dreams as a woman? Why do you think that?
This country compared to others does not completely hinder my ability to follow my dreams. However, this country does not make it as easy for me to follow my dreams as it does for a man.
11. If you could change one part of society in regards to human rights, what would you change? Do you think this is specific to where you’re from or should it be changed throughout the entire world?
I would change the fact that someone’s differences, for example their gender, race, nationality, sexuality, sex, religion, socio-economic status etc, can make it harder to live a safe, productive life because of societies biases and the general lack of kindness and compassion for others. I wish that all those in the world could start on a level playing field and that no one would be persecuted based on them. This needs to be changed throughout the entire world. Our country, along with others, does not have a good record with this, but if I had a magic wand and could change one thing it would be this. Unfortunately, no one has a magic wand, what some of us do have however is our power to vote and elect leaders who will make incremental changes to better the lives of all.