When I wasn’t born a boy

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It is March 8th again and I didn’t want to write again about how there is no gender equality and why we still need feminism. Instead, I decided to reflect on a thought that I heard for as long as I remember and certainly isn’t something that I only think of on March 8.

I was born within a month of three male cousins and apparently according to the extended family, it would have been a much better deal if I were born a boy and for the last 25 years, I am reminded on various occasions that I ruined the complete package and I somehow, for some reason, in some awkward way should feel sorry for myself and all these disappointed people who don’t seem to get over it in a quarter century (come on, you’d think they’d have something else to think about).

This is just one (rather silly) example of the normalized sexism that I grew up in and it is coming from aunts, uncles and older relatives who despite this awful statement have the best intentions.

Now, this story and many similar ones have become merely funny conversations that are simply dismissed with a polite smile. As many may think or say, why wouldn’t it? After all,  all my female cousins have been able to break away from the most obvious forms of sexism and we’re all fairly well educated and well traveled and enjoy a certain level of freedom just like our male cousins. It really doesn’t seem like a big deal anymore.

However, the point to me is more important than just that. It doesn’t matter how well educated we are, if we can’t escape the borders of those rotten traditional gender roles in our society.

It doesn’t matter how successful we get in our careers if our families and society at large defines a women’s success but how well she tends to her household, husband and children.

More importantly, it doesn’t matter how successful we are or how far we get in life, if we still fail to see, understand and fight the infiltrated sexism all around us.

Sexism comes in different shapes and forms and colors. Of course, some that are much more detrimental and dangerous than others, but that doesn’t mean that less obvious forms of sexism should be accepted and tolerated, because what some women have is really a privilege that some had to fight and die for not that long ago. Women didn’t get the right to education, vote or work because someone decided to give it to us out of good will and society will continue to disempower women and women will remain second class citizens, even in the developed world*, if we don’t do something about it.

So Happy International Women’s Day and thanks for all those out there working for change, so maybe one day we will be celebrating Gender Equality Day instead.

*Links to wage disparity and women’s representation in Canada, Australia, UK and a developed country comparison.

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