While women have come a long way over the last century, we still deal with a lot of sexism. This can take the form of blatant sexual harassment or abuse, catcalling or not being paid equally. But more often, it comes in the form of microaggressions. A microaggression is a small, albeit enraging, slight against someone, usually having to do with race, gender or sexuality. I deal with them quite often, and I am fucking over it.
1. Being told to smile.
Throughout my life, I have been told to smile, regardless of my mood. I have had a complete stranger yell at me to smile from his truck while I was jogging. This comes from the idea that women are supposed to be polite and cheery at all times. You know, sugar and spice and everything nice. The thing is, I’m not always happy. Sometimes I’m having a shit day. Sometimes I’m trying to concentrate on something. Smiling is not the natural expression that just falls on my face.
2. Constantly being asked if I’m in a relationship.
Every time a holiday rolls around and I’m spending time with family, this dreaded question always gets asked: “Are you seeing anyone?” The answer is always no. I’ve started answering with how I’m doing in school or how work is going. I hate this because it implies that I should be in a relationship or that my value is tied to it. And often comes before they ask about anything else going on in my life. What’s worse is the reaction I get when I say no. It’s usually my Grandma looking really disappointed and little worried for my wellbeing. Though honestly, they should consider that, if I was seeing someone important enough to tell them about it, they would probably be with me.
3. Being extra cautious about what I wear.
Getting dressed in the morning is an absolute nightmare for me. I usually try on multiple combinations of blouses and pants and dresses before landing on whatever gives the most coverage. This is a little bit because I desperately need to update my wardrobe and a lot because I am constantly worried about dressing “too slutty.” Women are heavily monitored in the workplace and school when it comes to what they wear, while men just wear whatever. God forbid they show their shoulders in case a man gets distracted. I just want to be able to throw something on and walk out the door without holding a ruler to my shorts.
4. Being told I "look tired."
First of all, fuck you. Second of all, I am always tired. Always. No exceptions. If I can make myself look not tired, it’s a good day. If I do look tired, it just means I skipped the concealer, which probably means I am extra tired. So, instead of reminding me that I look like garbage, get me a pillow and a blanket so I can nap. Or just don’t say anything.
5. Assuming I like/dislike things because of my gender.
Gender roles have determined much of what guys and girls are “supposed” to like. But that doesn’t mean any of us actually like those things. Many girls aren’t into dresses and makeup, while guys are and that’s fine. Just don’t assume I am into one thing and not another. It’s even worse when people assume because I like some traditionally feminine things, I like all traditionally feminine things and no traditionally masculine things. I am a well-rounded and complete human being with interests that include video games, makeup and outdoor activities. And that’s not rare either, so stop pretending that a girl who likes baking and mudding is special.
6. Being judged on my sex life.
When it comes to being a woman, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Far too often, women are either a slut or a prude with absolutely no in between. While this is more noticeable in overtly sexist comments, it exists as microaggressions as well. Unfortunately, it can come from other women the most and usually consists of questions like “Is there a specific reason you’re not having sex?” or “So, how many people have you slept with?” Or really any judgment on someone else’s decision to do whatever they want with their body.
7. Being stared at my random men.
The worst part of any day is when, after meticulously picking out an outfit that I feel cute in and that covers what higher-ups deem inappropriate, I still get stared at. Ogled at, if you will. And by strange men who are often way older than me and definitely making comments to their buddy that I can’t hear. It makes me feel ugly, awkward, and sometimes unsafe.
8. Assuming I don’t know things.
This comes in the form of what has been termed “mansplaining.” It’s when you just start explaining basic concepts or something that I should already know to me. It’s annoying and insulting, not to mention a waste of time. If I don’t know something, I will ask. Until I ask, just assume I know. It’s not hard and will save us a lot of time and irritation.
9. Not being believed when I talk about these experiences.
The one thing I hate the most is when someone tries to tell me how I’m feeling or how I experienced something. The reason these microaggressions are so prominent in our society is because, when women point it out, they’re not believed or their feelings are pushed aside. This is why we can’t tackle the bigger problems that women face, too. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about being told to smile or being assaulted; everything we say is scrutinized or downplayed.
While microaggressions are not literally the worst, they suck. And when you deal with these little things for years and years, the rage builds up. So, I beg of you, please don’t this stuff. It’s irritating and disrespectful. And if you now aren’t sure how to treat women, try treating them like a person.