Today is International Women’s Day, a day when we celebrate the movement for women’s Rights. As expected I woke up to a very polar home page on social media. I woke up to a bunch of motivational posts, campaigns where brands are committing money to women literacy or other causes that help women, #bossbabe post, etc; and then there were the sexist jokes. Which was quite off putting since most people in my circle are not sexist but they are trying to be funny. Well, quite frankly it’s not.
I can appreciate the humor in a joke, I’m not so uptight that I can’t take a joke. The problem is that many people don’t see it as a joke. If everyone took these to be jokes we wouldn’t have gender inequality today. If you, an educated individual without sexist inclinations cannot pass up the opportunity to make sexists jokes on a day that celebrates strides made throughout history to overcome sexism and bridge the gap of gender inequality, that should be a beacon to shine light on the struggle women face daily.
Things I heard in the past 20 years
-“That’s not for girls,”
-“Girls can’t do that”
-“That’s not the way a girl behaves”
-“Girls don’t talk like that”
-“You’re too smart for your own good”
-“You think you’re smart I hope your husband beats you when you grow up”
-“You’re too smart for men”
-“You don’t need to be smart, you just need to learn to cook”
-“You’re pretty, you don’t need to be smart”
-“You can do my laundry for extra credit”
-“Can you stop being so smart, you don’t need to know everything”
-“Women can’t be leaders, they’re just designed to do different things, it’s not in our DNA”
-“Women leaders can never be successful”
-“She probably gives good blowjobs to get that promotions, because she’s incompetent”
-“Oh, you’re having a girl, you’ll need a shot gun”
-“Girls don’t count, all that matters is when you have a son”
-“Oh, your pregnant what a waste of a degree”
-“You’re throwing you’re whole future away by getting married”
And I’ll stop there because I have better things to do with my life than sit down and list every ignorant sexist thing ever said to me. Plus I wouldn’t finish this blog post before the end of the day. What was most striking about these is that they were not from strangers, these were said to me by family members, former friends, and teachers in the classroom in front of my peers (both in Trinidad and America). Now I’m not saying everyone I know is sexist, I obviously was surrounded by more positive reinforcement than negative, but most women aren’t. Even in America, even in the 21st century, even in college, even at the biggest offices, even in women run businesses. This is something we should remember everyday. You may be the only positive reinforcement for a woman. YOU may be the only one that doesn’t make sandwich jokes, YOU may be the only one that does not tell her to do your laundry, YOU may be the only one that tells her she can do it, YOU may be the only one that does not call her dreams and ambitions crazy, YOU may be the only reason that she thinks she can do it. So take that moment in your day to write that post/message telling her that, she’s already heard all the sexist jokes.
Today Feminists are often viewed as angry man haters. For this reason I was uncertain if I identified myself as a feminist for a long time. Truth is, bitter man hater is not the definition of feminism. I am Feminist because I am going to make my dreams come through and I will not be deprived of it because of my gender, because when I do it, I don’t want to hear rumors that I slept my way to the top, because it’s not okay for anyone to tell me how my daughter or son should dress, or what type of toys they can have because of their gender, because I want my son to know that women also contribute tremendously to the success of the society we have and I want my daughter to know that what she decided to do with her life is an important decision.
Feminism is about equality. Thank you to the men that support us, that love us, that appreciate us, that don’t make the sexist jokes. Thank you to the women who stood up and changed history for us, the women that were the first to do everything that we enjoy today, the women who are killing it men dominated fields, to the women that are working their butts of to make a difference.
And to the women reading this, you are beautiful, strong, inspiring, and Need. You make the world a better place with your grace, with your kindness, with your ambition and strength. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are not good enough, that you don’t contribute enough, that you are worthless.
When you know your worth no one can devalue you.