Throughout my life, I had always noticed the bias against my gender. Even as a child, I noticed how various adults implanted the idea of how girls were supposed to dress, act and talk about. We were supposed to be dainty, polite princesses who loved to dress up and play with dolls. Yet, I saw the boys in my class be called, "future presidents," and "future doctors." I was always just a princess. As I got older, it still continued with more harsher barriers. Girls were weak, so they should just become housewives and take care of their family while it was the men who were the strong bread winners. Women are nothing more than their husband and children. Now with social media, the bias was even stronger with the amount of comments about how a woman should be, with commenting, "slut," on a female celebrity's photo or expressing sympathy for rapists. I have found that the fact that I am female brings a lot of unfair, and unwanted prejudice into my life. It also allowed for some revolting, yet eye opening experiences.
There was one experience that had hit me hard and will always stick with me. It had happened was last summer while eating lunch in Philadelphia with a male family member. This family member always had problematic views, but I was not around him a lot. It took me way too many years to realize how sexist and racist he was and this lunch was no different. It was a few months after the Brock Turner case came into light. It enraging that a boy could rape a woman, damaging her in ways he could not comprehend, yet his only punishment would only be six months in jail. I saw media outlets describe him as, "a bright boy with a promising future," and in the same breath claim the victim was at fault because, "she was drunk and too old to be at the party." It had struck a chord in my heart and made me feel so hollow as not only a person, but a woman. As my family member and I were wrapping up our meal, we came into that discussion about the case. For brief moment, I believed he was on my side. That despite his problematic views, he did see the fault of the whole situation and was equally as disgusted by Turner.
Then, he uttered the words, "Maybe she deserved it."
I couldn't even look at him, let alone speak to him in that moment. How could he? How could he say that girl deserved to wake up in a hospital to find out she has been assaulted by some guy at a party? How could he even dare to sympathize with a weak boy who could not keep it in his pants? My chest felt like somebody had punched me and broke my ribs. It made it all the worse knowing it was coming from my own family member. I heard this statement a lot when it came to rape cases. I distinctly remember a female college student carrying the mattress she was assaulted on as a protest. Many people online attacked her for her actions, claiming she was a liar or being over dramatic and of course, she deserved it. It sickened me seeing all the abuse she was getting for protesting that her rapist was never expelled. I knew women were most of time received the short end of the stick and had rape cases overlooked. Yet, it did not really hit me until this conversation that I realized I really did have littlerespect as a woman and that, god forbid, if it I was in that traumatic situation, I would have little support. And I am a white cis woman. If I was a woman of color or a part of the LGBTQ community, my case would be so much worse.
He instantly changed the topic to something about the art museum we were going to. I went along with it since I couldn't even form words to argue with him. As the day went on, it did become light hearted as we walked through the museum. I couldn't get his words out of my head, though. Whenever I saw a painting of a woman, it just took me back to that moment. My chest still felt incredibly sore and my head hurt when the words flashed in my mind. To this day, I still think about them. I thought about them when I heard Brock Turner was released from jail after only serving three months in jail. As I go into the next chapter of my life, it terrifies me knowing I am going into adulthood knowing that our justice system and many people still have little respect for women. That includes women of color, trans women, disabled women and more.
Yet, it empowers me to rise above it and fight for my equal rights as a women. I want to inspire other women to join the women's movement to help all women, regardless of sexuality, race, religion or if they are able bodied. Seeing the support we already have from those who participated in the Women's March on DC has made me especially proud to be a feminist and a woman. I want to see our society become one that fully embraces women of all kind. I want women to no longer have to fight for justice when they are assaulted. I want gender roles to disappear. I want men to realize that they also do not need to conform to hyper-masculinity and that is it okay to show emotions. I want women to be on equal playing fields as men. I truly want people to understand what feminism is and that we do just want to be equal in the eyes of everyone. And I know that future will happen one day.
The future is female.