What it means to be a female has changed drastically since the 1800s. What was once a life reduced to submission to others, marriage and motherhood is now a life of greater (not perfect) equality and the opportunity to choose from various paths.

Though the expectation persists, that a woman will eventually marry, raise a family and be caretaker of the home, women are in a much better position than we were 200 years ago. Women are now pursing higher education, becoming influential voices in government, owning businesses and truly taking charge of their lives. There has never been a better time to be a lady in terms of pursuing your dream…except it depends on where in the world you live, what the dream is, your relationship status, and whether or not you are a mother.

Women are not being forced or dictated how to dress anymore, yet we are still judged as promiscuous or boring by our clothing. We are no longer forced into marriages at young ages, at least not in country, but it is still assumed that we need a male to propel our lives. We are no longer pinned to a bed against our will by a husband (who may not even love you), to conceive a child and with no way of getting out of that marriage arrangement. Yet, the emotional, physical, verbal and sexual abuse and harassment at the hands of males persists. Everything we do is still seen as an attempt to get attention from the opposite sex.

Being a woman with a passion and dream means facing inevitable obstacles. In the eyes of society, we are still subtly seen as pretty things whose only job it is to be beautiful and repopulate the earth. Just check the movies! No matter how intelligent or dominant of a role a woman may have, she usually also plays a role of seductress. It’s as if this is our main purpose of existing. Pathetic.

Some men feel intimidated by intelligent women. Hence, some women water down their intelligence to make the man feel less threatened. Intelligent women are not taken seriously. Their ideas and input are taken for granted or viewed as cute, which can be frustrating. This is why women like Rachel Maddow and the late Gwen Ifill are so important because they fight that status quo.

Of the genders, women are the ones who are expected to settle—settle for less in their dreams, relationships, and their lives. Times have not change drastically since the setting of “Fences” in terms of how women are viewed. We are still expected to sit down, shut up, take whatever life (or men) throw at us, and have dinner ready by 7.

In a way, I feel like women are still silencing their voices, brilliance, passions, and ability for greatness.

The world has come a long way in its treatment of women. However, there is still some inequality. Women’s accomplishments are sometimes swept under the rug. There is still some wage inequality, and sometimes women are underestimated in their ability to perform certain jobs well due to female nurturing tendencies. However, a determined woman is an unstoppable force, and this is the power she has.

If you take away nothing else, I want to make one thing clear. ‘Woman’ is not a synonym for ‘weak.’ Neither is pink the only color that should be associated with women. We are also red for passion and intensity, blue for calm and stability, yellow for energy and optimism, green for reliability and influence, and black for strength and sophistication.

Never settle ladies. Now is our time, we have more routes than ever before to create the life we have always wanted for ourselves—a life rid of simplicity, sorrow, submission and silence. Live freely, learn endlessly, move and speak, unthreatened by the ego of any man. Remember, the most unstoppable force is a determined woman.