My apologies for being late with this post! I’m still pretty much suffering from a burnout (for anything in general, including writing), so it took me longer than usual to write such a long post. 😅
A few days ago I announced this month’s Collaboration with a Purpose theme, which is Dedicated to Women Worldwide and falls on International Women’s Day!
International Women’s Day 2018
Now, more than ever, there’s a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. There’s a strong call to #PressforProgress motivating and uniting friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.
~From International Women’s Day
One might wonder, why do we even need to celebrate International Women’s Day? Don’t we already have gender equality today? Sadly, that’s not the case. As much as we would like to believe we have gender equality today, there are still a lot of discrimination and stereotyping in our society. 🙁
To be honest, I wondered if I should even write about issues women face today. I prefer to write more about positive stuff on this blog – I feel there are already enough negativity in this world, so why add to it?
But eventually I realised; focusing more on positivity doesn’t mean we should ignore the negative. In order to help bring about positive changes, first we need to be aware of the issues that are already happening, isn’t it?
So I decided to write this post for awareness, the first step to bring about positive changes to the world, dedicated to women worldwide. 😀
(Some of the) Issues Women Face Today
I know, I know, everyone faces some kind of issue or other, not just the women, but seeing how this is for International Women’s Day, I wanted to highlight some of the issues that women face today! Don’t worry, I’ll eventually write the men’s edition later this year, when International Men’s Day come about. 😀
Note: You might see a lot of this icon [❣❗] after a hyperlink – this icon means “highly sensitive people, beware!” If you’re highly sensitive, like me, some of these articles may be a little too disturbing to read; even I was feeling quite negative as I got to the end of this post. 😶
Disclaimer: Some of these may cast men in a bad light, and that isn’t my intention! These issues tend to happen more in a woman-man encounter, but that doesn’t mean all men are bad. (If I think so, would I even be married to one? 😆) Just because some people decided to be jerks, it doesn’t mean everyone is a jerk!
With that done, let’s get on with the list!
Women are Stereotyped as Shopaholics, Make-Up Experts and Shoe Collectors
Whenever there is an icebreaking session that involves questions about hobbies, the following happens:
- Someone: “What do you do on your free time? Shopping, I suppose.”
- Me: [raised eyebrow] “No, I play video games.”
Or, whenever there’s a need for others to use my car:
- Someone: “Wow, I don’t see any shoes in your car! They’re all in the boot, I suppose.”
- Me: [raised eyebrow] “No, I don’t hide shoes in my car.”
These people didn’t have the gall to ask me about my makeup-less face (they would have gotten another raised eyebrow if they did), but I’m sure they’ve all wondered why (I dislike makeup).
Yep, this is a really popular stereotype. But not all women are shopaholics, makeup experts and shoe collectors, or even any of the above!
For the record, I happen to be one of those who really dislike shopping, really dislike putting and having makeup on, and can’t be bothered to start a shoe collection. And I studied IT and programming and play video games as a hobby, something many considered to be the men’s department. 🎮🖥⌨
Women are Expected to Smile All the Time
The social expectation is that women are supposed to be smiling. All the time. Some (especially older men) even take it upon them to “correct” any women who aren’t smiling by approaching them and saying, “Smile!” or, “Why so serious?”
I may happen to be more of the smiley type, but even I would have felt the urge to rebel and frown if someone did that to me. 😑
Why is it so bad to ask a non-smiling woman to smile? What if the woman just lost a loved one and couldn’t smile? It’s like a stranger walking up to a balding man in the train and say, “Hey, you’re balding, why don’t you wear a wig?” It may seem helpful to the one saying it, but what if the balding guy is losing hair because of chemotherapy?
It’s an infringement of privacy, no matter how “helpful” it may seem to the approaching stranger.
However, the problem with the “women should always be smiling” expectation is that it is also happens in the working world, as this article from The Atlantic [❣❗] explains. Doesn’t it suck when you’re rejected for a job role just because of a stereotype? 🙁
Women are Expected to be Nice, Accommodating to Requests, etc
As a woman, we’re always taught to be nice. If something we dislike occurs, we’re supposed to swallow it and pretend to go along with it as not to ruffle anyone’s feathers. Sadly, this is pretty hardwired in me as well, as I’m conflict avoidant and can’t seem to come up with the right words in the heat of the moment – but I certainly have a lot to say about it afterwards! (Of course, only to my husband in a private setting, where I could be rebellious without consequence. 😆)
Of course, this brings about a lot of problems for the women. This post from Captain Awkward [❣❗] (one of my favourite advice blogs to read!) tells about separate instances on how (male) strangers react when the (female) author didn’t want to have a friendly chat on the train, and a lot of comments on that tells similar stories of various horrifying degree. I feel bad for them, yet glad I live in Asia where people generally (I say generally because there are creeps everywhere) leave each other alone. 😶
Yet, in the workplace, women get the short end of the stick whether they’re nice or not:
Success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women. When a man is successful, his peers often like him more; when a woman is successful, both men and women often like her less. This trade-off between success and likeability creates a double bind for women. If a woman is competent, she does not seem nice enough, but if a woman seems really nice, she is considered less competent.
~From Lean In: 7 Tips for Men Who Want To Support Equality
Between a rock and a hard place. Now what? 🙁
When Women Say No, It’s Supposed to Mean No But Often It Doesn’t
Have you ever consumed a romance media (movie, book or others) where a man asks a woman out, who says no, and then he continues to pursue her, asking her out again and again, and eventually she agrees and they both become a romantic couple, rewarding the man’s persistent behaviour despite the woman’s repeated no? What about dating articles that talk about women playing hard to get, where apparently women say no to interested men so that he’d try harder?
A common story I’ve read around the internet goes like this: a man tries to pick up a woman at the bar. The woman, who is single but isn’t interested in dating, says no. The man persists, refusing to accept the no, until the woman says, “I have a boyfriend.” That’s a problem, because the man in this story doesn’t respect the woman’s stated wishes to be left alone, yet he backs down only when he finds out the woman “belongs” to another man. 🙁
Sounds like fiction? Not only it’s a common occurrence worldwide, things could go badly pretty badly when a woman says no, with the man escalating to verbal abuse like this story from The Odyssey [❣❗] or worse, like this article from The Sydney Morning Herald [❣❗]. 😦
Many Women Don’t Feel Safe Alone in Public
It’s difficult for a woman to feel safe in the public. One could sit in a bus and be hit with a barrage of dirty jokes [❣❗], only to be told by the others, “Boys will be boys,” or “Don’t be so sensitive.” One could ride the train and risk being groped, where bystanders will not help. One could take a walk through the park and be cornered by men, obviously not with good intentions.
Personally, as a woman, I don’t feel safe being out alone in the public, especially at night. As a woman, I’ve always been taught to be careful of being followed, etc and take precautions – like making sure I keep an eye around me when I walk, or never leave my drink unattended – to make sure I’m safe whenever I go out. As a woman, I was taught to remember there are always men out there – that are stronger than I am and could overpower me in seconds – with not-good intentions, and that I could become one of the statistics in the newspaper at any time.
Of course, this is rather generalising for the men – just because one guy becomes a creep doesn’t mean all others are creeps – but it’s because of these few that a whole lot of women don’t feel safe. 🙁
On the Bright Side…
Whew, I think I’ve gotten a bit more negative after writing about all those issues, so let’s switch it up and have something positive this time – gender equality may have a long way to go, but it’s certainly progressing!
Back then, women’s role used to to raise their children while their husbands worked, when a career woman was unheard of. Today, one is as likely to find a woman in an office as a man.
Back then, books was all written by men, and a book written by a woman is unheard of. Today, one can find shelves upon shelves of books and all kinds of works by both genders.
Back then, some roles were exclusively for men (such as engineers and scientists) and some for women (such as nurses and teachers). Now one can find both genders in any kind of fields, even househusbands instead of housewives.
Progress may be slow, but it does give one a slight feeling of hope, doesn’t it? 🙂
Crushing Patriarchy Isn’t the Solution – Gender Equality Is
Sometime earlier this year, as I was reading up about feminism, I stumbled upon the idea of extreme feminism – “empowering women while aiming to crush patriarchy”. I couldn’t help but to raise an eyebrow at the thought, because it made me think of a fantasy war between a kingdom and a queendom to see which of the two is the stronger, like a war for dominance. 😶
We may still be in a patriarchal society… but is crushing patriarchy really the solution?
Nope, not for me! I think the solution is to empower women and to educate men, so that both genders are on par with each other. Also, gender equality to me doesn’t mean the exact same treatment for both, as some may think – I mean, the best treatment for one woman doesn’t mean the same to the next woman, much less a man. No, what I believe by gender equality is that both are on the same level, working with each other instead of one being below the other, to treat every individual as the unique person they are!
I believe awareness is the first step to a positive change, and I hope this will help bring that about. 😀
I feel like this post is different from what I usually write, though I hope you enjoyed it anyway! Do let me know what you think. ❤
A Short Self-Compassionate Letter
This may be a different style from your usual posts, but it’s still great you wrote from your heart. 😀
Read More on Collaboration with a Purpose: Dedicated to Women
- Barb Caffrey @ Barb Caffrey’s Blog: A Woman’s Work Is…Everything?
- Divyang Shah @ i think my way: Women in life
- Ipuna Black: Dedicated to Women Worldwide
- Jane Love @ Harmonious Joy: Thoughts of 21st Century Teen Girls on a Woman’s Role in Society Today
- Mylene C. Orillo: To All Women Who Made a Difference in My Life
- Sadaf Sidiqqi: Celebrating Women Worldwide.
- Sonyo Estavillo @ ‘Lil Pick Me Up: #InternationalWomensDay: 10 Interesting Female Facts You Might Not Know! #PressforProgress
- Swati Kadam @ Wholesome Reliable: Womenarrior
- Tajwar Fatma @ LifeAsWeHaveNeverKnownIt: Let’s Practice Women’s Day