What It Means To Be A Woman

She stands in the mirror, her eyes casting over her short skirt - wondering whether she can get away with it, or whether this will be perceived as an invitation. Her eyes cast over her make up - is this okay? Does this conform to the preconceived idea of femininity? Is she wearing too much, is she not wearing enough? It's a constant battle. She leaves the house, walking with her head down when she spots the men walking in the opposite direction, hoping and praying that for once she'll get a night off. For once she will be able to simply walk past and not be subjected to the cat calls, the wolf whistles, the lingering looks. But she is a young woman wearing a skirt, and somehow this is implied as her giving her permission - she should've expected this, right? Why else would she dress this way?

If anything was to happen, she knows immediately the response she would receive - "What were you wearing?" and "How much did you drink?" are questions which would be asked, and she would instantly be made to feel that the wrong-doing and pure delusion of a male was entirely her fault.

Because it's a well renowned fact that we are responsible for the actions of the opposite sex. We are told to cover our shoulders and to wear longer skirts because they may not be able to control themselves. We are given a strict dress code, and told to adhere to it in order to remain protected. In order to remain safe. Yet, I don't see the safety in that - do you?

It's been stated that if we shout "FIRE" instead of "RAPE", then the chance of someone coming to help us is significantly more likely. The idea of a house burning down is apparently more scary than someone's life being ripped apart, for them experiencing indescribable pain and living with the awful memories of what has happened to them. Or maybe it's the fear that stops us. It's easy to sit here and say how we would act in a certain situation, yet we have no definite way of knowing what we would actually do.

I guess what sparked this post was the show that everyone and their dog seem to be talking about - '13 Reasons Why'. Whilst this series has sparked an abundance of controversial opinions, it has definitely got people talking about the subject matter that it concerns. There are a number of scenes included in it which are uncomfortable and hard to watch - one in particular being the harrowing hot tub scene. Without going into too much detail, here we see the stereotypical 'jock' that is often present in American popular culture, taking advantage of Hannah - your, again stereotypical, 'girl next door' kind of character. Every time I shut my eyes I think about that scene, and it hurts me to think that this act is a version of reality that some people have faced. This feeling of helplessness is one that haunts me, and thinking that at this very moment something similar could be happening is tough and uncomfortable to think about.

The truth is women have come a long way - we can vote, there's no stigma attached to us going out to work, and many dominant figures in our society are indeed female - yet there's still this feeling of uncertainty and inequality that I can't help but pick up on. Obviously I'm going to be biased here, as I have no idea what it's like to be a man *waits for someone to make a 'witty' comment*, but I can't help but feel how women's looks tend to be the deciding factor on their worth as a person. At the end of the day, everything tends to come down to image and I am so utterly sick of it. Yes, it's nice to be told that you're 'pretty', but exhilarating to be labelled 'intelligent', 'quick-witted' or 'genuine'.

We sit and watch a film, and are introduced to archetypal representations of women - and we are expected to enjoy it. Yet every film we watch follows the same structure - the passive female longing for the dominant male - and I am bored of it. I am surprised when I watch a film that doesn't conform to this pattern and, if I'm perfectly honest, I don't think that's how it should be. I love being immersed in a text which follows the story of a strong female character, or at least includes one - and this is harder to find than you would necessarily think. Yet, isn't this damaging for the young girls growing up in this digital age? We are taught to settle, to be passive in our own storyline and to rely on external forces in order to get what we want. Every time I think about this, I grow a little fonder of J.K Rowling - for creating the character of Hermione Granger for young girls (and boys!) to admire and aspire to be like.

I love being a woman, and I'm more than proud to be one - but there are challenges that we face due to our gender that really shouldn't exist. However, that being said, I know how lucky I am to live in a society where things aren't as extreme. There are hideous and soul-crushing stories that are shared on the news, or on social media, and it's at times like this when I realise just how bitter and twisted our world is. The same way that I believe race and sexuality shouldn't be used to dictate a person's worth and rights, gender shouldn't either. When you think about it, it really is entirely absurd to think that our genitals determine our superiority - so why is that the case in so many countries across the globe?

Sorry for this little rant, it's probably jumbled, messy and may not make sense in some areas, but I've just been thinking about it all for a little while now. I hope it's made you think, or even ask your own questions - because I guess that's what we ultimately need; a discussion.

So, I guess I'll see you next week!

Grace x


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