Inferiority is a choice
Maybe I am meant to feel inferior as a woman but I have to tell you, I don't. It's not because I haven't felt my fair share of criticism or judgement for being considered less than I am its simply because I know I am no less than anyone. Over International Women's Week this past week I have enjoyed interviewing a couple of women about how they positively impact the world, I have looked back and laughed on the moments I was underestimated and what I've revelled in is the reality that I don't feel small because I have never believed in playing small.
International Women's Week is an outstanding week to come together and remember all the things that are incredible about being female. To look at the achievements, the progression society has made from no rights to rights, to remember the times we marched, spoke out, celebrated humanity, supported each other and used our voice for good when even other women sought to tear us down. How we feel about International Women's Week says a lot about how we feel about ourselves. Some of us will be angry, some of us will be calm and collected, some will be nonchalant and they will carry this message through the week and through the regular conversations with men and women about how young girls and women should be treated in society, how they should be treated. The mindset we have creates the greatest change in our hearts and enables the greatest movement in the lives of those around us. We can kick, scream and yell for what we want whether we are male or female but we are simply projecting our pain not the purposeful productivity we will use to create the long lasting change we desire. When I look on my life at how many times I was mistreated I can get angry and become bitter and have a hardened heart deciding everyone is the same or I can educate them to be more emotionally intelligent, to realise that no voice for one group is no voice for all. So as you can see I decided the latter. Today, I share with you the very female moments I have experienced in the past and why none of them were negative, simply opportunities for change, for everyone.
-Age 7 playing tennis: you cannot play someone older than you, you simply won't be able to cope. Tennis coach: she can cope, let's play her against 18 year olds. For the record I still remember the pace of those serves but I LOVED that my coach didn't give two hoots about age.
-Age 12 'you are a girl, girls don't play cricket'- yes they do. They can play whatever they want. I just go selected as a Queensland Cricket shadow player. If girls couldn't play cricket that wouldn't have happened. FYI if women couldn't play cricket they wouldn't have better statistics than the men for about the past 5 years professionally.
-Age 13, said boy from my Geography class turned to me and said, 'your sister is extremely beautiful, she must be stupid if she is that good looking!' I wonder who looked stupid in that conversation?
-From age 11 to age 24 'you must be gay because you like soccer and you are really good at it. Only gay girls are that good at sport.' For the record I was one of a few that wasn't gay, but why did it matter?
-At 16 years of age when I changed soccer clubs to a team of all boys who had been playing with each other since age 6 and NEVER had a girl on their team. 'We will have to put you on the bench, you can't seriously think you can play soccer. --I tell you what, if you think you can play soccer stand just after half way shoot the ball and hit the top right hand bar and let the ball go in and we will let you play plus give you $50.' -I am still owed $50 but they let me play. Those boys protected me against every young misogynist player in the Gladstone region not that they needed to and we became good friends.
-16 years of age when I asked mum if I could try out Rugby Union all girls competition at school for something different 'You'll get breast cancer, no.' Yawn.
-'You know you actually have to be good at soccer to make the Queensland or Australian team'- someone who should have supported me since day 1 but didn't. Great inspiration to prove them wrong when I was selected for a Premier League soccer team and had my season paid for at 22.
-Age 18 at University 'boys playing futsal during University lunch hours must not hit the ball hard, the girls cannot handle how hard its kicked, they might get hurt.'
-At 18 years and 2 months 'Julia we have to apply the same rules to you as the boys, holy shit you can kick a soccer ball. Please be gentler, the girls can't handle it.'
-'Only sluts wear mini skirts'--actually only women who like mini skirts and feel confident enough wear mini skirts.
-'Sorry I can't make you Year Level Coordinator you are not a man but you definitely have the best skills out of all the candidates'.
-'You are one of the best workers we have ever had, we simply cannot promote you.'
-'You mean to say that another woman thinks she has any idea how women feel mistreated my men? How delusional can you be?' -said by a male business owner.
-'Do you need help lifting those weights, you are a woman you know.' I had been doing 85kg squats for 3 months already with no spotter.
-'Women are meant to be in the kitchen, looking after the babies, making sure they have things ready for me when I come home, I don't want them to work.' Ummm...how is this still being said?
-'Women can be CEOs yes but they'll never be as good as male CEOs they aren't strong enough.'- male business owner
-'She deserved that. How in the world could she not expect to be raped when she has a skirt on and a cute top like that? She's not making anyone look away is she.' Said by too many men AND women to count (or similar versions of it).
-'Oh I can't believe she didn't ask my permission before she spent some money.' Overheard two men talking about their WIVES.
The list could really go on. What I want to stress here is that I am not hugely offended by these well except the idiotic one about how women should expect to be violated, that riles me up because other women say that about other women as often if not more frequently than men say it about ladies and personally I couldn't think of anything more emotionally unintelligent. In saying that all of these phrases present an awesome opportunity. First and foremost most of them frame a woman as an underdog. Personally I LOVE being the underdog because I know with 100% confidence that anyone who underestimates me is going to be made a fool of. I am a female with infinite possibilities and opportunities, a woman who doesn't take mediocre for an answer, a woman who sees something she doesn't like and endeavours to change it because without that approach what kind of person am I?
Society often makes the argument about men and women, who is better, stronger, who is weaker, braver, inferior, superior. The reality is no gender is. Inequality occurs in our mindset. When we believe we are less, we are less. When we don't settle for the bullshit things people tell us and we live life on our terms we rise. Being a female with this attitude has allowed people who second guess me to be constantly surprised at what I achieve, at how little I fear when according to the world I should be a damsel in distress waiting for someone to save me. I don't need saving, I can help myself. I love men, I love being female. I will always be a feminist but my argument does not rise by raising my voice it rises by raising my standards, listening and giving a well reasoned argument when there is opportunity for change. My argument rises by empowering other women, not tearing them down, by teaching men how to be gentle-men not this archaic bravado based man that women are bored of. My argument rises by appreciating men for who they are and helping them to understand that women and men are meant to be different for similarly amicable reasons. Women need men and men need women. No one is greater both are equally important, we need to value the opposite gender in our mind before we can actively appreciate them for all that they are. We can start doing that by removing the words: weak, strong, brave, courageous or using these terms for both genders. After all, its only when we convince our mind that we are less that we become inferior.
I hope everyone has had a fantastic International Women's Week. Celebrate each other. Till next time,