We live in an era that is the result of great progress for women. After centuries of it being extremely difficult for women to follow a path that didn’t involve marriage, mothering and homemaking, we are finally able to have far more freedom and choice than our ancestors. This simply means that women are finally being recognised more as equal human beings, with equal levels of desire and passion, each as different to each other as men are from each other but with an equal desire to be able to follow our dreams and have the means to do so. For most men, dependent on social status and wealth, the freedom to do whatever they want without being ridiculed, mocked, spoken down to or shamed, has been their experience and it takes conscious thought to imagine an existence where that could be different for them.
I see myself as someone who stands against the narrative that women should have to put up with these outdated, insulting and harmful beliefs. It is so ingrained into our society, still, that when I experience it from other people, I am still baffled by the fact that they have NO IDEA that they’re being disrespectful and unfair. They see it as a form of care. Controlling someone is not caring, it’s belittling and basically saying that you have better ideas about how this woman should live her life than the woman herself.
The relationship between men and women still has so far to go. Women are still held to a completely different standard than men, even though we act as a society as though we’ve accomplished so much when it comes to equal rights. People act as though the concrete, tangible factors involved in the fight for equality, things like pay gaps, women being allowed to do any job, women being legally allowed the same rights as a man, are enough and that is it and we should leave it at that. Also, that women should be grateful and basically be happy and content and manageable and pretty again. Which leads onto the actual point. You can put all the equal rights you want on paper, all the laws and all the rights, it isn’t an equal society for women until men change the way they perceive women as human beings. Men need to take a good look at history, society now and how they personally feel about women. Do you feel she is an individual with the right to do whatever job she wants, because she is capable of that? Do you view her as a person with every right to have whomever she wants as a romantic partner, if she is a single adult engaging in consensual romances? To have as few or as many sexual partners as she wants? As few or as many children? Or do you see her as a vulnerable creature, needing to be protected and ‘cared for’, even if she rejects that care and politely tells you that she is fine and to leave her alone? Do you subconsciously believe that if a woman is romantic, popular and enjoys romantic company, that she is a bit of a whore and therefore deserves less respect? Even though this concept would just never appear in the same way in your head for a man? Do you believe that men are simply ‘better’ at certain professions or jobs such as politics, finance and business leadership? Do you ever see a woman in a position of power and wonder whether things like pregnancy, motherhood, and becoming a wife would get in the way of her career? Even if she’s a stranger and you literally have no reason to believe that you know anything about her life?
Women are constantly, CONSTANTLY, discussed, talked about at length and criticised from afar by men who clearly believe that they have every right to analyse someone else’s life. Still. Women are still being treated as though they have a set path in life and as though it is the right of men to speculate when, not even if, she will ‘settle down’ and start a family. Through this, women who don’t follow this path at all are seen as ‘wild’ and ‘adventurous’ and ‘different’. Still, in 2021. All by men who truly believe that they care for women, have their best interests at heart and are allies for women. The point is, this isn’t an attack on men. We need to be good to each other. We need to be understanding of each other and listen to each other’s experiences. I believe that men are taught, with little comments from their elders over time, starting when they are very young, to undermine women. I haven’t experienced growing up as a male, I’ve only experienced the result of these teachings from the standpoint of a woman. That’s why I believe it’s so important to open these discussions between the genders to be able to analyse our current society and our place in history. We live in an extremely exciting time, especially for women who haven’t always had the opportunities to do things like travel the world, experience different cultures, study whatever we want and take part in real global change. We just need to make sure we aren’t assuming that we have finished the work needed to create a world that gives women the respect they deserve. We can’t look at the progress we’ve made and believe that we’ve finished. We had so, so far to come, and we still have a lot to do as a society. This is, in itself, an opportunity for us. All of us. The opportunity to see injustice and unfairness and to change your own mindset. It all starts with thought and compassion for others. It always does.