This past year I put my feminist pants on (well, I think most women probably always wear them, but I guess you could say I put on a pair of bright neon stand out jeans - people knew who I was representing, per say.) I spent the year researching women on multiple fronts. Two of the major ones were the misrepresentation of women in the media and then women as a minority in politics and their misrepresentation there. Let me tell you, it was an eye-opener. I already knew a lot of misrepresentations about women going in, but boy I had not prepared myself for the reality. Now, I'm not going to go super into depth on that now, that's a different blog, but I will tell you this - America has a long way to go.
What's so scary about that statement, though, is that America has moved mountains in our nearly 250 years of being a country compared to some countries that have been around since before Jesus - their progress is so minimal. Over the past week I read a book called, "The Pearl that Broke It's Shell." The story follows the lives of a great great grandmother, Shekiba, born 1890 and her life from when she was 13-36 and her great great granddaughter Rahima, born nearly a hundred years later and her life from 9-16, both living in Afghanistan at that time. On multiple occasions I would have to stop reading and back track because I had forgotten that Rahima was born around the same time as me. Their lives and customs there were so much like those during Shekiba's life that it made no sense that at 13, I was playing soccer in shorts and running around with boys my age, but for Rahima, she was getting married and expected to run a home and Shekiba was running a farm with her father after her the rest of her family passed away. Where I had the freedom of choice, for example if I wanted to play soccer or volleyball, if I wanted to wear a dress or a skirt to church, if I wanted cut my hair or grow it out, they had no say in the matter of their lives.
Okay, here's the elephant in the room: yes, I am white. Yes, that will make a huge difference in the way I am treated. For example, where men make $1.00, I will make perhaps $.82. But then you have black women with $.65 and hispanic women $.58. But at least we are allowed to have a job period. And wear pants. We aren't expected to live a life where we don't truly belong to our family - where our life in our parents' home will revolve around us cooking, cleaning, preparing to be a wife, getting married, and then living to make babies, cook and clean. We don't have the same hinderances they did and still do. When we get married, we are still independent. If we want to continue working, you best believe we will. If we want to be a stay-at-home mom, you best believe we will. But we will make that choice with our husband as a team, as a discussion. He won't just put his foot down and make whatever decision he wants (hopefully this is in most cases), but husband and wife will sit down and discuss what is best for them and their family. A joint decision.
What I'm trying to say here, maybe mostly to myself, is that yes, it is sometimes very difficult and frustrating to be a woman, but boy oh boy we have it so much better. We have so much more freedom. We might not make as much as a man does (which I still think is ridiculous), but at least we are allowed the freedom to have a job! We have the freedom to fall in love and then choose to marry the man we love, our parents don't choose for us (for the most part). If we want to show off our legs or even our face, we can.
I know it can get so frustrating to constantly hear "well it could be worse," or "well you have it better than ___." But sometimes you need that boost of optimism in a world filled with half empty glasses. So I close this out saying go forth and put on your neon pants and be proud of the accomplishments and changes our country has made and keep wearing those pants as we continue to make more!