Sunday, 22 January 2017

Like a girl


"I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives". - Jane Austen

When my mum was pregnant with me she knew she was having a girl even before the scan. They'd had a boy name picked out for me but my mum knew she was having a girl. She'd wanted her first child to be a girl and here I am.

Growing up I never really felt that being girl was something negative. I grew up in a bubble in the Middle East in a world that hadn't yet really discovered the internet let alone wifi. We didn't have a television with a satellite dish until 9/11 so my exposure to the outside world was rather limited. 

As a white girl from a pretty middle class family I know that my experiences as a female are just a tiny part of the bigger picture and that I live within a privileged world.  I try and make up for this as much as possible and educate myself out of the realms of what affects just me. Just because something doesn't affect me directly, doesn't mean that it's not important. In fact quite the opposite, it's vital that I understand the even greater picture, anything else would just be me resting on my privilege. 

But as I've gone through my life as a growing woman my eyes have been opened, I've realised that girls have to constantly put up with being part of an endless and contradictory balancing act.  

We're either too fat or too skinny. Too loud, too self-conscious. Too independent, too needy. Too self-obsessed, too shy. Too slutty, too prude. Too outgoing, too boring. Too high maintenance, too sloppy. Too confident, too uninspiring. Too beautiful, too ugly. Too educated, too stupid. Too intimidating, too bland. Too guarded, too easy. Too fierce, too meek. Too vocal, too silent.

It doesn't seem as if we are allowed to just be.

We're indoctrinated to believe in gender norms, that women can only inhabit certain spheres whilst others are reserved for the boys. We're brainwashed to believe the Beauty Myth - the obsession with physical beauty which traps us modern women in an endless spiral of self-consciousness and self hatred as we're told we have to look a certain way in order to be happy and fulfilled, as if beauty is our only priority over motherhood. We're told that there are certain tick boxes we have to accomplish in order to live a worthwhile life: get a certain level of education, find a partner, get married, have children, and whilst you're at it have more children that then continue to live out the prescribed gender lifecycle. If you don't live your life according to these standards you're questioned continually and deemed to have failed as a woman.

But the fight back is on.

"Like a girl" used to be that insult that boys used to throw around in primary school. But 'like a girl' is being reclaimed. Women have always had to fight that little bit harder to get where we need to get, and if we do that 'like a girl', well then you damn well know we're giving it all we have.

I revel in being a girl. I revel in being a girl that makes her own career choices, that makes her own reproductive choices and her own life choices. I revel in being in a position where I can make those choices all the while bearing in mind that I'm very privileged in being able to do so. Because for so many women out there, being able to have the opportunity to make those same choices as me, is a lot harder.

I've been incredibly inspired by the news yesterday. Seeing all genders, all ages and all races come together for the Women's March not only in Washington but all over the world, has brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. It makes me realise that I've been sat back too long, that I need to do something with what I have and who I am. I'm more motivated than ever to do something worthwhile.

When women work together to support each other amazing things can happen.

So; be confident like a girl. Be strong like a girl, kick ass like a girl. Fight back like a girl and always remember to stay nasty.

"A girl should be two things: who and what she wants."


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3 comments

  1. Ah I've never been one for really noticing these things, but after reading your long list of what women shouldn't be, I realise that the world's perception of our gender is absolutely stupid. I hate how we have to look a certain way and act a certain way, and I hate how this stigma has been festering all throughout history so that even we judge other women this way subconsciously. I'm glad people are fighting against it.

    -M
    The Life of Little Me @thelyfoflittleme.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. 'Like a girl' is something I've heard used as an insult for EVER. In fact, I'm sure I've chastised myself in the past for doing things 'like a girl' or (most mortifying of all) "why am I being such a girl!?". It's crazy how 'normal' it is and I'm having a sharp awakening right now where those kinds of phrases are concerned - they don't marry up with what I believe in or practice day to day.

    Weren't those marches incredible? I'm sad to have missed the one in London.

    Great post, Nina - really!

    Flora
    www.theeverchanginghome.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes to everything! I also need to work out what I can do for the cause. I feel like I've just been talking about feminist issues with people who already agree with me, which isn't enough.

    ReplyDelete

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