Why being a woman means something entirely new now.

by Olivia Joy

When I was little, I was proud to be a little girl and I grew up through high school, proud to be a young woman. And it wasn’t Barbie or my American Girl doll that I looked up to. I looked at the women in my life (and the OG Charlie’s Angels) and was in awe of how they empowered me, made sure I knew how smart I was, and went to the ends to teach me how to be kind, generous, and gracious toward those around me. I started to hope that I would eventually be able to teach young women to have those same qualities.

But (unfortunately there does have to be a “but”) I’m not proud to be a woman anymore. And no it’s not that stupid thought of me accepting my oppression because of what masculine-driven society tells me…that’s frankly ridiculous.

See, I’ve never been one to feel as though being a woman hindered me in any way. And yes I’m fully aware of institutional discrimination within large corporations and do not believe this to be acceptable; however, I think that using this discrimination as fuel to be thought of as having high intellect and to be valued for my insight and drive is more effective than any sort of fight that I could choose to fight. Or protest I choose to participate in.

But the whole root of my lack of pride and my sense of embarrassment comes from the fact that an entire cohort of women have been alienated from…their own sex? Riddle me this: how can one group of women who claim to empower eachother, choose to speak out for the cause of unity among women while simultaneously isolating themselves from any WOMAN who has an opinion differing from their own? That is tolerance and unity if I have ever heard of it. (hah)

Being at my university for four years now, I’ve learned that if college students love one thing, it’s the love of making your voice heard…not to be another sensible, thought-filled head at the table, but to literally make your voice so incredibly loud that folks don’t have the choice to tune you out (regardless of how effective that method really is). So about two months ago, at the peak of all of the women’s march business, initially, I was really stoked for this sort of coming together. I thought “finally!” But then I started hearing some things as peers continued to talk. And I couldn’t say a darned thing.

I couldn’t say a thing because the second I would open my mouth, I would lose all credibility and no longer would be taken seriously as a woman. I would be isolated from the rest of ’em. Here’s what I would have said if I could have opened my mouth:

  • Wait, but I don’t see why we have to shame men for being men or what everyone else likes to call them: “sexist pigs.” It’s not like they really had a choice to be a man?
  • Why is all of this turning into a political conversation that runs far, far away from the ideals of unification and love? Your signs with language slandering President Trump have absolutely nothing to do with bringing women together…nothing at all.
  • Telling women they aren’t invited to the table because they advocate for a child’s life is not the least bit productive. All mindsets should be welcome, after all, this is a woman thing, right? Not a my views vs. your views kind of thing.

Silencing one voice just because it doesn’t sound like yours doesn’t empower anyone..it doesn’t do any good. Think about it, if silencing another’s voice while fighting for yours to be heard isn’t the most hypocritical thing I’ve heard in my twenty two years of life, I don’t know what is.

I’m sick of feeling shame for being a woman because in today’s age, being a woman has nothing to do with the kindness, strength, intellect, and generosity that I cherished the thought of embodying one day…and it only ever would when we, women, choose to no longer silence our sisters, but embrace them even if they sound, think, look…differently than us.