When I was 3 or 4 my mother remarried. She scraped the bottom of the barrel with this guy. It is kind of sad, but I remember my mother for every bad decision she ever made. She was not a good mother, at least to me. My brother my have a different story to tell. She never stood up for me and really did not want to be bothered with me unless I could do something to benefit her. The only time she acknowledged she had a daughter was when my accomplishments could make her look good. I spent my childhood and teenage years listening to how I should have been a boy. If I had been born a boy, I would have been treated better by her and my stepfather’s family.
Welcome to the patriarchy.
I was born in 1970. Today, boys and men are still preferred over girls and women. Boys and men are treated better. Consider the following:
- Men pay less for things like deodorant, shampoo, razers, and socks. Overall, men’s items are cheaper.
- There is still a pay gap between men and women. Women make 77% of what men do. So, if a man made $1000 a week, a woman would only make $770 for doing the same job, assuming both were equally qualified with the same education and experience. Black and Hispanic women have it even worse. Even actors and athletes deal with this.
- Women are underrepresented in the government. Women make up 50% of the population and yet only 24% of the senate and house of representatives are women collectively.
- Women only make up 6% of CEOs and 23% of board members in Fortune 500 companies. They also only make up 41% of media jobs and 25% of tech jobs.
- Women still are expected to do all the household work. If they work outside the home, they quite literally hold two jobs. They are expected to come home and cook, clean, and take care of the children (if there are any) while their husband/boyfriend sits on his ass and watches TV or play video games because he “had a hard day at work and wants to relax”.
- Women are sexually exploited in human trafficking.
- Women are at a great risk of rape and domestic violence. Also, 66% of female military personal have experienced sexual assault, rape, and/or sexual harassment.
- Retired women are twice as likely to live in poverty than men. They make less money and live longer. Women are also more likely to live below the poverty line throughout their lives than men.
I know that someone reading this is thinking, “Maybe women don’t want those CEO jobs and stuff.” Let me share something. The last job interview I went on I was asked if I had children, what their ages were, and if I had childcare. Men are not asked this. It is just assumed that there is a woman at home to take care of any kids he has fathered. Women are seen as less valuable when it comes to jobs because they are the ones that take off work to take care of sick children, and if they don’t have children, there is a good chance at some point they will want/need maternity leave.
I have spent my life defending the fact that I am female. It started with my stepfather’s family who was unapologetically disrespectful to me. They refused to call me by my proper name and gave me a nickname that I did not like and continued to call me by it for years despite saying over and over that I hated it. My male cousins never had this problem and were treated so much better than I was simply because they were boys. My mother kept my hair cut short, in a boy’s hair style and, unless I was wearing something that was obviously ‘girl clothes’ (a dress/skirt/something pink) people thought I was a boy. I am convinced that my mother projected upon me her want for a boy as long as she could. I remember screaming at people, “I’m not a boy! I’m a girl!” and still being met with, “Well, you look like a boy.”
As a child I was told, and it was often reinforced in so many sexist ways, that I was not good enough because I was a girl. I was told I could not do things because I was a girl. As an adult I faced even more sexism in the form of catcalls (at least I have never been sexually assaulted) and sexist questions during job interviews. I have a family member who double checks everything I tell him with a man because my opinion/knowledge is not trusted because I am female. I have called him on this so many times and he claims he does not do this.
That is half the problem. Patriarchal sexism is so embedded in society that so many people do not even recognize it. When men are presented with how they get preferential treatment they deny it, because they do not see it. This is the way things have been for…well, forever so it must be the “right” way since it has not changed. It has not changed because men do not respect women as a whole. An individual man may respect his mother, his sister, his wife, and his daughter but he will still make commentary about ‘women drivers’, blame PMS for a woman’s bad mood (never mind that she may have just found out a family member died, her bad mood is still because of PMS), tell dumb blonde jokes, and engage is sexual talk with his friends that is degrading to women. I often wonder how men would feel if they were the subject of catcalls, if women said things to them like “Is that bulge in your pants real?”, If women constantly looked at their crotch instead of their face when talking to them, tell dude bro jokes, and blame all their bad moods on Irritable Male Syndrome (yes, it’s a thing). Maybe if they were subject to the same treatment that they give women they would stop.
Women are conditioned from the time they are children to accept the patriarchy and its treatment of women. We are told if we act a certain way or dress a certain way, we will not be able to “get a man”. The same if we are overweight. We need to lose weight to make ourselves attractive to the opposite sex. We are told to smile because it is more attractive. Everything young girls are told conditions them to please the opposite sex. No one tells us any better and we buy it hook, line, and sinker. It is only when we are older, and the damage has been done, that we realize what we were taught was wrong. By then young women suffer from self-esteem issues and connect their self-worth to their desirability to men. When we reject the patriarchy, we are called bitches or fem-Nazis. I remember being told that boys are intimidated by and do not like smart girls. You know why boys and guys do not like smart girls? It is because they cannot manipulate them. It took me many years to figure this out.
I spent my childhood and teen years mad because people would not accept me as I was. I only realize now that I was mad because people would not accept me because I was a girl, they would not accept me because I refused to buy into the idea that girls must be a certain way and like certain things. I rebelled against everything. Sometimes it was quite rebellion where I just did my own thing when I contradicted what I was “supposed to do”, other times it was loud rebellion like when I told my step grand-father to fuck off and that I was not speaking to him until he could address me by my proper name. He was quite happy with me ignoring his existence because he just could not be bothered to use my given name. This is something that has always stuck with me. It was all the proof that I needed that he did not respect me because of my gender.
When I was 16 my brother was born. My mother said something to me to the effect of, “I finally have my son and when I die your brother gets everything” about a year later. Not that I wanted anything from her by this point, but again, it was one of those moments that stood out because I was told I was not good enough because I was a girl.
I deserved better. All girls deserve better.