1. Your physical beauty will matter too much.
While it’s clear that, to a certain degree, a man’s looks are guaranteed to get him some extra special treatment — the talking Hefty bag full of emotional curdled milk that is Don Draper certainly gets a lot of love because of that dashing side-part — a woman’s worth is just automatically going to shoot up enormously because of her looks in a way that cannot be compared. In the office, in the treatment of strangers, in life in general, an incredibly beautiful woman is like a regular woman with some sort of magical super power that just makes better things happen for her, and your job is to emulate her as much as possible. Wear your hair in a more flattering way, do your makeup, cinch in your waist — try to be that facsimile of the beautiful girl. Because, while being too good-looking can often prove a handicap for those who don’t develop much skill before the days of their inhuman beauty are over, it is certainly a necessary evil to buy into when it lasts. You might not be the talentless actress who gets lead roles in blockbusters because of your supple collarbones, but you just might get a promotion because you’re distinctly nicer to look at in the office every day.
2. Your body will always be up for debate.
At some point, some dude is going to tell you, “Hey, abortions are wrong and gross and awful and you’re a murderer if you think otherwise,” and you’re going to look at his tummy, at that spot that does not and has never contained a uterus which comes with it the choice of having to make really painful decisions based on the lives of so many people, and you’re just going to be like, “No, man. No.” But he’s not going to listen to you, because your body is just going to be some sort of theory that we can argue over like this is a mock trial in a high school law class and not an actual functional human being with a life and experiences and convictions. No big.
3. You will be presumed too emotional or not emotional enough.
The choices will be these:
1. Show the emotion you feel over something at work — even something which is clearly very moving or damaging to the human spirit — and be labeled an emotional girl who can’t keep it together and is some sort of quota hire who has to be handled with the kinds of white gloves they use to dust old shit on Antiques Roadshow.
2. You bottle up said emotions and decide that, because you don’t want to trip that “emotional girl” wire (and you never know where it is), you’re just going to save all of your tearing up or jumping for joy or consoling for the elevator ride down or the commute home, leading everyone to interpret you as a “bitch” and/or “ice queen” whose vagina is made of a thousand frosty crystals and who is incapable of being a real human being with everyone.
4. Your femininity is a handicap.
While the qualities typically associated with the feminine — softness, warmth, caring, listening, etc — are generally those which are less valued in the professional world, make no mistake that exhibiting these while also presenting them in a very conventionally feminine package is going to be unmistakable “getting taken seriously” suicide. If you are the woman who wears “girly” dresses, makeup, styled hair, heels, and does not actively suppress many of her more womanly qualities, you are going to be pigeonholed in the kind of bird’s nest which never, ever cleans out all the old pigeon poop. And unless you can master the weaponizing of your femininity, à la Joan, from Mad Men, you may just be stuck with all of the assumptions that leads people to make about you.
5. You will be expected to want/try to “have it all.”
You may not have ever actually wanted children, or a ball-bustingly challenging career, or a loving marriage that spans the decades, or a thrilling social life — but guess what? According to magazines, and books, and official research, and the cutting expectations of others, that is exactly what you want. And your existential challenge is having it all balanced around you like some sort of impossible mobile of unfulfillment that spins above your child’s designer crib. If you can’t have it, it’s not time to question why your partner isn’t taking these same responsibilities or asking himself the same impossible questions, it’s just time to try harder and sleep less.
6. Your sexuality will be a source of value.
How many times have you come in contact with a penis? Okay, take that number, and multiply it by four. That is the number you must subtract from the perfect, pure 100 on the infamous “Is this ho just too ho-y to start the condescending conversion into housewife yet” scale. If you’re down into the negatives, you might as well just kill yourself.
7. Even some other women will never understand this.
It’s one thing to have to try to get someone to understand these things who has never experienced them, it’s quite another to have to convey it to someone who lives it every day. We’ve all been ignorant when it comes to social issues — even ones which affect us — but once you begin to understand the way they function, it’s almost impossible not to want to shake someone who is where you once were and be like, “Girl, come on, doesn’t it piss you off that you get judged for the amount of boners you smooch or whether or not you come off as ‘too much of a woman’ at work or whether or not you take someone yelling at you about your ass in the street with a smile? COME ON. WE ARE ALL BETTER THAN THIS.” But we must be patient. We have to be. Because we all get our wake-up call at one time or another, and we all know how much it hurts the first time it happens.
One day, someone is going to call her a “slut” for having fun and dancing with a guy at the bar in a minidress, and yet leave the man’s dignity in the equation totally unscathed. She’s going to look at you and be like, “But, why, though? He was grinding on me even harder!” And you’re going to order her another Long Island and offer up a seat next to you, and tell her, “Because his penis is imbued with some sort of magic that makes all of its activities immune to criticism. And our task is to burn that magic at the stake.”