When you are a young girl, stereotypes hit you fast and often.
You're told you're "too weak," "not fast enough," "not smart enough," that you "could never keep up," "would be better off playing with dolls."
The “like a girl” stereotype has a major impact on the lives of young girls because from day one we are told that we are not good enough while simultaneously having the weight of the world thrust upon our shoulders. It's a lot of pressure to be a girl. But I decided at a young age that I would never stay within the confines of what people expected from me. I knew no stereotype would define who I would be and how I would behave.
I had always been the athletic girl who ran fast, was strong and had a knack for sports who also killed it in the classroom, but because I was a girl I’d be picked last for teams in a group of guys. Every time this happened I would run faster and work harder to prove I was good enough so when I played/worked with the same group, they would want me on their team. Sadly any progress I made was limited. I kept having to prove myself over and over whenever there were new people so I wouldn’t have to hear “you throw/run/think like a girl.”
When middle school hit, I faltered. Suddenly being smart and fast wasn’t good- it was too masculine. Being able to more push-ups than more than half the guys in your grade and getting good grades somehow made me less feminine. So I toned it back and let them win every once in a while. I put my abilities into reserve and acted more like a 13-year-old girl “should,” one of the biggest mistakes of my childhood.
I am happy to say that phase didn't last long, and that I immediately went back to destroying people's expectations of who I should be and what I should be doing. I will admit that the road to this place of self-acceptance has been bumpy, and I was occasionally hit with backlash for my decisions. But as a direct result of the work I've done, I have become an intelligent, successful young woman who is constantly moving forward. I am a woman with an intersectional identity who is not so easily contained.
Never again will I let anyone tell me that I am not enough. Never again will anyone use my gender to limit my ability to achieve.
Now to address the administration:
I'm not going to lie, life as a woman is not easy. Periods drain you, cramps can destroy happiness, boobs get in the way, and I can only imagine the struggles of motherhood in my future. BUT none of this diminishes my ability to perform and excel. If anything it has made me more resilient in the face of sexism, stereotype and general doubt.
Just to be clear:
- I am not frail.
- I am not fragile.
- I am not guided to act irrationally because of my hormones.
- I am not silent, nor will I ever be.
- I am capable of making my own decisions about what I need to do with my body.
- Most importantly, I do not need an ignorant man dictating on something he knows nothing about.
Let me say that again for the people in the back:
MY VAGINA DOES NOT MAKE ME WEAK.
NEVER HAS, NEVER WILL.
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A New Yorker from day one, Carmen Mackins always had an interested in writing and understanding how people think. Her time as a Communication Studies major and Social Psychology minor at Northwestern University has greatly developed the way she does both. She is low-key obsessed with sunglasses, [...]