Arn't I A Woman?: A message to young girls



Sep 16, 2012

A message to young girls

It’s really hard to be a girl in this world. You are held to standards that are impossible to reach. You are judged on your physical appearance so much that your personality becomes secondary. You are relegated to having specific feelings and behaviors and if you step outside of that box, you will have stigmas attached to you. People will judge your body. If you are loud or have opinions you will be seen as bossy and controlling. If you get angry or upset you will be seen as sensitive or touchy. If you are dominant in any way you will be seen as a bitch. If you want for any type of attention you will be seen as needy. You are expected to nurture the world and receive no nurturing in return. You are expected to be selfless. Your sexuality will be scrutinized. You can’t be weak or strong. People will take advantage of you, because you are just a girl. You will be pitted against other women and will learn to pit yourself against them in return. And you will buy into all of it whether you like it or not because it runs that deep. You will forever be fighting for individuality. You are stuck inside of a world that abuses you. You are stuck inside of a world that wants to own you. You may even become something you never wanted to be, because you think that’s how you have to be to survive. My message to young girls is to not buy into it. To know that you have every right in the world to have your own feelings, opinions, thoughts, ideals, ideas, actions, and behaviors, and you can do anything you want. You will undoubtedly run across people and systems that make you feel like you’re not good enough. That you are inferior. It’s tricky because it’s all so subtle now. You can’t see it acting against you. If you buy into how society presents the idea of what it means to be a woman, you will hate yourself. (Interesting side note- I just mistyped ‘means’ and it was autocorrected to “men’s”.) And you will pass on that hate to your daughters and sons. We will continue to breed populations that carry this on, because women are still expected to be powerless. And so power is withheld. It’s even seen in the people who claim to be aware. The men who say they are anti this and that and racism sexism classism blah blah blah!- they can be some of the most sexist people you will ever meet. Because it runs so deep they can’t even see it. They can’t see that they still treat women as inferior so they can’t even recognize the dehumanization. The funniest thing in the world is to see a man who brazenly proclaims his position on equality and then silences his girlfriend or belittles her. These are still the same men that call a girl a slut when they have slept with more people than you. My message to young girls is to defy these people and systems. Because these changes must happen over generations and not overnight. And to never hate yourself. As a woman, the biggest lesson I have ever learned is to not hate yourself. Because when you start to hate yourself, you buy into the system. And it is a hole that is almost impossible to dig yourself out of. You should love yourself because you understand these are lies. And if you really look around, closely, at the world, you see that if you are a woman you are taught to hate yourself. You are taught to compare yourself to a standard that is impossible to reach. And you in turn hate yourself, which continues your own oppression.  And these are all things I wish I had learned sooner. Please read while listening to Frank Ocean’s “Swim Good”. Remember that people should listen to you. Remember that you as a woman can reinforce your own inequalities. I remember reading this zine when I was young in which a girl I know wrote an article about women and said: “It’s ok to be angry.” And that hit me because growing up as a woman you aren’t allowed to be pissed off, because then you might start to question things. So get angry. I impart that onto every young girl reading this. “It’s ok to be angry.” It also should be a responsibility to utilize that anger into change because trust me, no one else is going to do it for you. Girl power, and all that. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Jessie. What a great and articulate exploration of the patriarchal system. I can tell you've really wrestled with how insidious and oppressive it all is. This is a good reminder that if you're not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Preach on.


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Sojourner Truth

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.

Sojourner Truth

Delivered 1851 at the Women's Convention

Akron, Ohio