A woman should stay in the home. She needs to stay with the kids and take care of them and have dinner ready when Dad comes home. A woman needs to provide for her family, too. What is she going to do, rely on her husband? He can’t do everything. A woman needs to dress nice to please the eye of men. A woman should dress modestly so she does not look like a tramp. A woman shouldn’t be more powerful than a man or be bossy. A woman should be able to stick up for herself.
Wait a second—when did the choices of women become everyone else’s job to decide? Since when is it not okay to be either a stay-at-home mom, or a hardworking lady in the office? It seems like we spend so much time deciding what a woman should be doing or what she needs to be doing that we forget that a woman decides her own fate, just like any man. Why have the lives of women been decided for them for so many years? Since when has it been okay for a man to decide his future, but it isn’t okay for women? Oh yeah, that’s right—since forever.
As young girls, we are dressed up in nice church dresses and told to cross our legs because that’s “ladylike.” At the age of 11, we are dropping out of sports because we are afraid of being taunted by the boys or judged on how we play the game. When 13 brings the years of acne and awkwardness, we are taught how to put on makeup to make us look better. At 15, we are shamed because periods are “just gross.”
At 18, we decide what college we go to and are given an unequal chance to get in because of our gender. Between 25 to 50, we get a job and aren’t even paid the same amount as our equal, male co-workers. At 50, we are called useless because the chances we can have children and “use our natural ability” are most likely gone.
As the fight for equality moves along into 2016, only four years away from the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote, we are still fighting to be completely equal. Growing up as a woman is still not easy, and that just isn’t okay—it hasn’t ever been okay. Women are told time and again that we “should smile” or “dress nicer” or “not get our panties in a bunch,” but why should we have to listen? We should be able to live how we feel without someone else telling us that we need to act a certain way just because we have a vagina.
Don’t define my life as a woman to be “prim and proper.” Don’t tell me to stay at home with the children or go out, work, and make money. Don’t pay me less because I am a different gender. Don’t tell me what I can and cannot do with my body or with the baby that I may or may not want.
Don’t tell me I am being dramatic or emotional when I get angry. Don’t sexualize my breasts because I need to feed my child and you cannot contain yourself or are “too disgusted.” Don’t tell me that you know about my life better than I do. Don’t tell me that my hormones get in the way of me being a manager, a CEO, an executive director, or even the president. Most importantly, don’t tell me how to live my life. I am a woman, I am an equal.