Lizzy Caldwell ’16 on the hate that sometimes accompanies gender issues

Facing Sexual Violence in Rockbridge County, Virginia

The other day, I crumpled to the floor sobbing because I was a woman.

Before you jump to conclusions, let me explain. These past couple months, I can’t seem to escape the confines of my gender. By this I am not referring whatsoever to my sexuality, but to the roles, restrictions, troubles, and danger of lacking a Y chromosome.

So now you are wondering why I hate being a woman.

I hate it because I’ve heard close male friends, and many acquaintances, make jokes about a woman’s place in the home.

I hate it because I’ve gone along with the jokes.

I hate it because a lot of men pretend sexism in the business world isn’t real.

I hate it because for every $1.00 a man might make at the same job I have, I make less.[1]

I hate it because in my business classes, when asked a question, girls answer with the inflection of a question mark in their sentence.

I hate it because I’ve done that.

I hate it because being a woman means I’m told I can’t travel alone- that I will get harassed. Attacked. Taken advantage of.

I hate it because to see the world, sometimes I have to travel alone- and recognize that I might get harassed, attacked, or taken advantage of simply because I carry the wrong private parts.

I hate it because being aware of my sexuality makes me a slut.

I hate it because I have called myself a slut.

I hate it because sometimes women lie about events because of sexual shame.

I hate it because women close to me- by blood and by relationship- have been raped.

I hate it because 1 in 4 women will be raped in their lifetime.

I hate it because I tried to verify that statistic- but I can’t. Because reporting sexual assault, especially as a college woman, is notoriously difficult, unreliable, and painful.

I hate it because it could still happen to me.

I hate it because men tend to feel entitled to my body and my attention. I’ve had men call me a “stupid bitch” because I didn’t appreciate their advances.

I hate it because sometimes I feel stupid for not appreciating their advances.

I hate it because I don’t want to demonize all men, because I know plenty of wonderful ones who treat women with respect.

I hate it because sometimes I still have to be wary with the wonderful ones.

I hate it because people give compliments to women, starting when they are little girls, along the lines of: “you are so pretty”

I hate it because the best compliment I ever received was “You looked so strong”

I hate it because I had to write a letter about all the things I hate. I hate that I had to write about how terrified, angry, and frustrated I am just aboutmy gender.

I hate being a woman, a lot of the time- but I am proud of it. I am proud that despite all that, women still go on to do amazing things. Clearly, I’m a little angry- but anger can be channeled. I want to channel that into being one of those do-it-all, breaking barriers, powerful women.

I want to work past the obstacles of being a woman, or even better- I hope those obstacles don’t even phase me. In fact, I don’t even want to be an amazing woman. I just want to be an amazing person.

This post originally appeared in Facing Sexual Violence in Rockbridge County, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.

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