I Am A Woman

I am a woman. And I was raised to be ashamed of my body. We are raised to find flaws in ourselves and to nitpick every part of our bodies. In school we had to change clothes if they were too revealing because, God forbid, we distract the boys with our stomachs or shoulders. My bra has been snapped, boys have teased and bullied me. But boys will be boys and girls need to understand that. As my education was disturbed, boys got to learn while wearing whatever they please and be a distraction. Magazines tell us we need to change our appearances to attract men and movies show us we are nothing more than a good romance plot. Since a young age we're raised to think we need to be thin, but not too thin. Our hair has to be perfect and sexy. We need makeup to attract men and if we're all natural we aren't put together. We are mere objects for men to look at and fuck, or at least that's what we're told. We are never told to love ourselves and when we finally are, it's too late for our minds to be changed.

I am a woman. And because I like sex, I'm also a slut. But men can be players. Everyone enjoys sex, it's not just a game that men get to be a part of. The clitoris isn't a mystery and our bodies orgasm too. Sex is fun and we enjoy it. It's empowering and great exercise. However, because I don't have a dick I can't say that it's just fun. I'm a slut. I must be loose, even though that's not how a vagina works. In men's eyes, I have to stay pure, "save myself". I can't enjoy hooking up, because I don't always like relationships. Sometimes people just fuck. But god forbid, I enjoy it.

I am a woman. And when I was a virgin, I was a prude. People bullied and teased me. Men treated me like there was something wrong with me. I was pretty enough, but I must not have been fuckable. I was a prude, I couldn't take a joke. My virginity was held highly in my regard, but it made me less of a person in men's eyes. So I lost it, before I was ready, to someone who was just a friend. I was left to feel impure rather than empowered. I sunk into depression because I became a slut in that moment of losing my purity.

I am a woman. And when I loved another woman it was a fetish. We couldn't kiss publicly because what was a beautiful, special moment between us, was a turn on for watching men, jeering. We were in love, but that wasn't legitimate. People didn't support us. Men were piggish and told us to have threesomes with them. Our relationship wasn't viewed as authentic love; it didn't matter that our love was real, that our bond was special, that her touch was home to me when I was with her. My heartache, that tore me apart, was never legit to men. We were just something sexy to watch, a fantasy.

I am a woman. And I walk home with my keys in my fist. Because instead of raising men to behave and not treat women poorly, little girls are raised to be afraid. Thanks to the law, what we are wearing is an excuse for us to be raped. So when I walk home at night, I have to carry pepper spray or another weapon to defend myself from the lurking men. And when I am raped or sexually harassed, people will ask me what I was wearing or why I didn't fight back. Instead of asking if I'm okay, people will focus on my skirt. Clearly I was asking for it. Instead of teaching people the meaning of no and consent, we are teaching girls to dress more appropriately in order to reduce negative attention.

I am a woman. And when I got pregnant without being married, I was a social pariah. Because even though I was with the man I loved, and continue to love, it meant I was easy. When in reality, we were engaged and planning our future. We decided that, although it was an accident, we were being blessed. However, people jeered because how dare I get pregnant while young and unwed? What if I was older? Would I just be too old to have a child? What if I was married? Because let's be honest, someone would have found something to poke around about.  

I am a woman. And my career isn't taken seriously. When I am a stay at home mom I'm not making money. Because when I say I'm a stay at home mom, I'm told I'm not helping my son. I'm told to send him into daycare. It must mean I'm home all day doing nothing, right? Or that I'm not a feminist, because I'm taking care of my family, even though I fight so hard for equality. And when I say I'm a writer, I am asked what kind of romance novel I am writing. Is it that improbable for me to write on a serious topic, or to write an incredible novel, without my characters falling madly in love? Surprise, I'm not really a poet, despite my vagina and tits. Why don't I get a serious job, right? Why am I paid less than a man makes in a serious job?

I am a woman. And no, that doesn't mean I am better than a man. It means I'm equal to a man and deserve the same respect. Because I am a human, at the end of the day, and my gender shouldn't make me any different.

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Taylor is a writer with a heavy focus on mental health, relationships, parenting, and foster care.