Tuesday, March 8, 2016

An Open Letter (And Some Suggestions) To Those Who Don't Understand a Woman's Struggle

Posted By on Tue, Mar 8, 2016 at 2:02 PM

Happy International Women’s Day, lovely humans of the Earth. Take a moment to thank the kick-ass women in your life a little bit extra today. Listen to some Beyoncé—you're #Flawless. Also take a few moments to try and understand the apparent and more concealed struggles women encounter on a daily basis.

Society puts women at a disadvantage that varies in intensity due to a variety of factors, be it race, socioeconomic status, religion, disability status, physical appearance, etc. We're conditioned to blame ourselves and are blamed by others for our own rapes, we make less money than our male colleagues, we're sexualized from grossly young ages, we're forced to fight to control our reproductive rights, we're taught "boys will be boys," we're called sluts and whores and unpure for expressing our sexualities, we're labeled as "bossy" for asserting our opinions and ideas—the list of injustices goes on and on. 

Listen. I'm not not here to judge if you've never registered any of these realities—though I think that's almost impossible this day in age, with social media, the internet as a whole, the supposed "Media Circus" and what not. I myself wasn't always aware of the inherent bias and discrimination our society imposes against women. I am here to tell you, though, that these realities are, yes, very real, and oftentimes heart-breaking for any woman or girl you may know and love.

If you're feeling rather disheartened, angry or just generally emotional after that last proclamation, good. You should be. But instead of just wallowing and feeling like a shitty person for just realizing this, be curious. Educate yourself and try to understand. Watch and read up on other kick-ass women's opinions and research regarding what it means to live as a woman in today's society. Check out the following educational starting points for your daily dose of Womanhood 101

1. Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay—This anthology of essays covers a variety of topics concerning (surprise!) feminism. Gay writes many compelling, well-researched opinions featuring personal stories that explore victim-blaming, the idea of gender and racial privilege and the way in which the media portrays men versus women, among other things. Regardless of whether you agree with Gay's views, her essays will definitely cause you to evaluate your own beliefs and consider issues you might have never previously thought to be problematic. 

2. Sites such as Jezebel, Refinery 29, Bustle and friends—There's one unifying aspect in each of these news sites—that their content often discusses, pertains to and is written by women, and particularly millennial women, at that. Meaning, interested readers can (and will) find plenty of passionate, mind-opening op-eds and flat-out news stories concerning women's issues and, again, feminism. Other good websites: Mic.com, TheAtlantic.com's "Sexes" page and BottleMagazine.com, an online zine started by a group of female UA students (disclaimer: myself included).

3. Social media platforms—People on Twitter and Tumblr, among other popular social media vessels, aren't afraid to speak their minds on controversial opinions. When perusing #feminism, take every opinion with a dose of discretion and don't contribute to unwarranted call-out culture, but definitely read them from an unbiased place. You'll learn a lot about how women and men alike feel about womanhood's current state. 

Happy reading, and, again—Happy International Women's Day. I hope your day is filled with open-mindedness, understanding and self-education. 

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