Sometimes I feel like being a woman is this large, befuddling thing that I have to do “right.” Not just because biological pressures force us to make good decisions fast or else; also because the media feeds us an insidious diet of half-truths designed to show us what happens if we don’t woman the right way. Hollywood is obviously horrible. But even other women’s writing does this. I’ve endured so many articles telling me what every woman should know by the time she’s 25 that it’s become a conscious effort to think for myself.
It’s actually the least true stereotype in my experience: that women can’t think for ourselves. I haven’t had a single female friend in my life who couldn’t do things without being buttressed by five other women. I’ve actually seen more men go out of their way to impress other people. Granted, I think it’s more about duty for them. And a need to be seen as capable. But that’s still a belief set that makes you owned by other people. Most women just want to do the most compassionate thing possible.
Nonetheless, if society just keeps beating it into your head that you’re supposed to be this one thing, you probably find truth without an agenda to be pretty refreshing. I try to keep these things in mind on my journey to become an informed, independent human being who makes effective decisions.
1. Every good person wants gender equality. But we’re conditioned towards certain biases that prevent equal treatment of women in an everyday sense. Like it’s easy not to pay attention to what another woman has to say because she’s older; and older women aren’t seen in mainstream media. It’s also easy to look at a standoffish man as a lone genius and a standoffish woman as a weirdo. This sort of thinking discredits people who could offer valuable opinions before they even get a chance to share them. Judge a woman the same way you would a man: by her contributions to society and her character.
2. Yes, Hillary Clinton is a woman. So are Jill Stein, Sarah Palin, and Ayn Rand. Have any opinion you want, but try to make sure you’re sorting it out based on wider values than a slavish devotion to identity politics. Think for yourself.
3. That being said, you might want to check out that female candidate/author/businessperson first. Standing with your people isn’t the only thing, but it’s definitely an honorable thing.
4. A bad feminist is someone who discredits other women for superficial reasons.
5. The number of people you fuck and how, when, and why you fuck them has little if anything to do with how good of a feminist you are. Just do what you want and don’t worry about making it political.
6. If something is just really fucking sexist it’s not funny.
7. Date guys who treat women fairly. Don’t worry about the dynamic of your relationship, like who’s dominant or whatever. You just want to be treated like a person.
8. If he’s an asshole, dump him. Seriously, just DTMFA. I think women put up with way more shit from their partners out of sheer love. I’ve seen men put up with horrible wives, but it’s usually because they feel a sense of responsibility towards them. Don’t let some guy drag you out for years hoping things will get better. He might not have the maturity to compromise yet, depending on how old he is. But if he doesn’t seem interested in trying then things just aren’t going to get better.
9. Don’t be the other woman. He won’t leave her for you. And if he does there’s a good chance it’s for the wrong reason. You might think you’re all special and shit being the upgrade, but if he’s the kind of guy who’s going to do things like that then he’ll eventually trade up from you. And you’ll have sold out your gender for nothing.
10. You have the right to avoid women prettier than you, but it still makes you a coward.
11. And please develop your self-worth based on something other than your looks. “Your looks” include tangentially related things like fashion, going out, reading stuff about dating and relationships like it’s your job, and talents with an expiration date, like dancing. Take pride in being good to your friends and family, an asset to your community, and an informed voter. Your future self will thank you.
12. The pressures on us are very different from men’s. So we’re inevitably going to make some decisions based on factors men can’t relate to. That doesn’t mean we aren’t rational.
13. If a man tells you you’re being irrational, calmly explain your reasoning. Use facts or appeals to justice to support what you’re saying. That’s how you prove about 35% of stereotypes wrong in a couple of minutes.
14. My mother tried to organize a union at work. She said the men stood behind her while the women were like “noooo, I don’t want to lose my jobbb.” Don’t be fucking scared like that. Stand up for yourself.
15. Don’t go around thinking that if you’re more like a man, you’re better. Male and female-predominated fields are equally valuable from an infrastructure standpoint. We teach kids to read. We do the nitty-gritty stuff that helps keep most patients alive. We help people get past whatever’s holding them back so they can maximize their potential. Because women know that every individual is not just one thing. Represent.
16. Except for one thing. More women should learn about science and politics. It’s dangerous for a feminist to admit this, but it really does seem like men have a wider scope of interests. I hear men talking and women talking and even the stupid men talk about current events while the smart women talk about other people. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve known plenty of women who know things. But overall this is kind of a problem. Frankly, if we want to be considered men’s intellectual equals it’s about time we started acting like it.
17. I’m not claiming superiority here. As soon as I hit puberty I started focusing on feelings to the exclusion of almost everything else. Emotional stuff is still more viscerally satisfying, but as soon as I started reading about things like economics I felt my brain creak and my whole world opened up. It was like eating kale after subsisting on a lifetime of white cheddar Cheez-Its and Auntie Anne’s pretzel nuggets.
18. “Women are….” (so on and so forth) may or may not apply to you. You are an individual person. Asserting or refuting that doesn’t make it any more or less true. Just know yourself. Don’t take shit. And don’t be afraid to say what you think and believe what you actually see.