By Caroline Moley
I am a young woman in 2015. I go to Georgetown University, I have supportive parents, and I believe that I can do anything. However, in most aspects of my life I feel pressured. It does not matter where I came from or who I associate with; the fact is that I am a woman in 2015 and therefore I will have to work harder and be more conscientious than men in order to achieve and do what I want.
I have to fight for equal pay, treatment, and respect, while also maintaining a perfect appearance. I have to worry about being drugged when I go to a simple college party or bar. I have to be judged more harshly than men regarding my looks and weight. I have to be sexually active because I don’t want to seem like a prude. At the same time, I also need to be cautious so that I don’t appear to be a “slut.” I have to be quiet and not make such a fuss so that I don’t seem like a “bitch.” I have to watch as old white male politicians try to take away my affordable health care and tell me what I can and cannot do with my own body. I have to be extremely apologetic about everything I do. The unfortunate truth is that these pressures have started to become the norm to me. Society has drilled them into my mind and therefore I subconsciously follow them.
People tell me that I should be thankful to be a woman today. At least I can vote, receive an education, speak my mind, and press charges against the person who assaulted me, right? But I shouldn’t have to be thankful for basic human rights. That may sound greedy and ignorant, but why should woman have to be thankful for rights that they should have naturally? I shouldn’t have to cease to these pressures in order to function as a woman in society.
When I was a young girl I was not aware of all the pressures woman have to face. I am one of three sisters and our parents always made us feel worthy and smart. Thus, I thought that there was no difference between men and women. When I became a teenager I was exposed to the social gap between the genders. People started to make negative and demeaning comments about my body and my intelligence. I sadly also made the same comments about other woman. I let myself be silenced by society’s restraints. I spent extra hours in the morning trying to obtain a standard of beauty so that my peers would find me desirable. I couldn’t just be smart or pretty or nice or funny or cool or interesting, I had to be them all or else I was nothing. When I accomplished something I felt ashamed to broadcast it to my peers because I didn’t want to appear stuck up. At the same time, my male peers boasted about their achievements without an ounce of shame. I hated other woman who talked highly about themselves but respected men who did. I wanted to escape the pressures society had bestowed on me because of my gender but I was also contributing to them. I was succumbing to them. I attempted to embody society’s perfect woman. That woman does not exist. I have never met her. I am happy I have never met her because she would not be a human being.
I get angry because I don’t think that I should even have to fight to be considered as worthy as men, yet, I must recognize reality. In the eyes of our society I am not as worthy. I have to fight because the world is not just going to change if I don’t. Our job as woman right now is to rebel against these pressures. We have to consciously reject them. We cannot grant them attention and we cannot let them control us. Feminism is about equal rights for men and woman. Therefore, men also have an obligation as human beings to be feminists. Men can help fight these pressures too. We have the power to not live in this kind of society.
Some may say that I am lucky to be a privileged white woman in America. It is true; I am incredibly fortunate to have such an amazing family and support system. I get to receive an outstanding education and I will never be hungry. My privileges, however, do not overshadow the importance of gender equality. It is 2015 and everyone deserves equal rights no matter one’s race, sexuality, gender, socioeconomic background, etc. Unfortunately we have not achieved equality yet and it is naïve to think that we have. Turning a blind eye to the inequality in our society is morally reprehensible.
My hope is that when my daughter is my age she will feel none of these pressures. She will be proud to be a woman. She will learn about gender inequality in her history class because it will be history. She will never feel inferior to her male classmate or coworker. She will embody the perfect woman, meaning she will just simply be herself.