Sometimes I hate being a woman.
I hate being a woman because I hate being afraid. I hate second-guessing myself. I hate doubting my abilities.
One of the things that I’ve always been told, as a result of one wave of feminism or another, is that I can do anything I want all by myself. As a woman, I don’t need to depend on anyone to take care of me–I can be independent.
But that’s not true in this world.
What is true is that I can’t go anywhere by myself without fear. Men can, for all intensive purposes, move freely through the world. Perhaps they risk getting mugged, or risk having racial slurs thrown at them. But those things don’t happen to them because they are men. Those things happen because they are the “wrong” race or look like they might have money in their pocket or they just happen to be sitting next to a crazy person on the bus.
Most of the time, men don’t have to fear the things women fear. They don’t have to fear being abducted or raped. They don’t have to worry about being touched by a stranger. They don’t have to worry about the 18 minutes they have to stand alone at the bus stop.
These things happen to women not because they look like they have something valuable in their purses or because they’re the wrong color in the wrong part of town.
These things happen because they are women.
So many times in my life have I doubted myself. I’ve cancelled plans and not done things that I really wanted to do because my boyfriend or my friends couldn’t go with me. I’m a solitary person usually; I like being alone, and I like being independent. But I can’t do that in this world.
Because I am a woman, I constantly need a chaperone.
Or mace or years of self-defense training or a concealed weapon.
I hate it.
When people ask why these things happen, the response is usually, “That’s just the way it is.”
But that’s not true and that’s not how it has to be.
There are always going to be people desperate enough to mug someone for their wallet. There are always going to be people ignorant enough to harass people verbally and even physically. And there are always going to be people sick enough to rape innocent men and women.
But there should not be so many sick people in this world that I can’t spend 20 minutes on a bus by myself. There should not be so many sick people that I don’t feel like I can ever live in a big city unless I have someone I know I can trust to live with so I don’t have to be afraid. There should not be so many sick people that women should be afraid to take a walk by themselves at twilight or early in the morning just to get away from it all for a few minutes. There should not be so many sick people that folks have to spend years looking for their missing daughters, wives, and friends. That they have to wake up every morning hoping that today will be the day that we find her. I picture my dad, my mom, my grandma, my sister, my boyfriend, and my friends in that situation every day. And that’s a big reason why I hesitate to do what I want.
People can say all they want about women being totally capable of being equal with men in our society. But if I can’t reach that full potential because I am afraid of living in this world by myself, then it is an unfair contest.
I hate being afraid. I hate being a woman because in this society, fear is part of the deal.