“Girls can wear jeans
And cut their hair short
Wear shirts and boots
‘Cause it’s OK to be a boy
But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading
‘Cause you think that being a girl is degrading
But secretly you’d love to know what it’s like
What it feels like for a girl”
– Madonna “What it feels like for a girl”
It’s a well known fact that Alana House overthinks just about everything.
I found myself apologising to perfect strangers at a Christmas lunch last week for talking too much. I told them a recent weekend away with friends and how I went to bed on the first night panicking that I’d – yet again – talked too much and not listened enough. To give myself a fighting chance of sleep, I lay thinking of a question I could ask each person the next day and resolved to pay attention to their answers.
The perfect strangers wanted to know if I asked the questions the next day.
Yep, I did.
The perfect strangers may have thought I was a bit odd … but entertaining.
That has nothing to do with this blog post. Well, other than the overthinking bit.
My latest bout of overthinking concerns how awful we’re making girls think it is to be a woman.
Sometimes, the expectations placed upon us by the media and society can make it hard to see any reasons why it’s great to be a girl.
And I think that’s a bit sad.
All the #metoo and #menomore stories are truly distressing – it’s terrible that so many men have done such awful things and thought it was OK.
But I’m a little scared that its making girls think being a woman is rubbish.
And it’s not.
I saw some statistics from The Young Women’s Trust, which surveyed thousands of millennials and found that 46 per cent of women aged 18 to 30 would describe themselves as worn down. While 54 per cent were struggling for confidence and 38 per cent were worried about their mental health. In all three cases male millennials scored better: 38 per cent, 39 per cent and 29 per cent, respectively.
How sad is that?
If I happened to be a bit iffy about the whole being a woman thing, Facebook would totally finish me off on wanting to belong to the female gender.
It’s filled with articles about pointy rings women can wear when they’re jogging to fight off attackers and story after story of men abusing their power in Hollywood and Kirk Pengilly feeling sad he can’t slap women on the butt any more, and endless posts about fear and shame and disappointment.
Those stories need to be told, but I’d like to see a few more positive ones about all the wonderful things that come with package that is being female.
Sure discrimination and sexual harassment suck big time, but I’ve always thought being a woman was pretty fabulous. OK, I’m not entirely loving being an almost 50-year-old woman, but on balance I reckon the good outweighs the bad.
There’s a bulk long list of reasons why I wouldn’t want to be a bloke and a very, very short list of reasons why I would.
I think its an incredibly empowering time to be a woman and I’d like to see the crappy, scary, ugly stuff balanced out.
We also tend to ignore the fact that being male is such a restrictive little box. I reckon for every societal straitjacket we put on women, there are even more for men in regard to the way they are expected to act and dress and think. Plus they deal with so many ugly stereotypes about toxic masculinity.
I read a fascinating story in Time magazine this week about women who transitioned to be men and the perspective it gave them on sexism.
They gained professional respect, but lost intimacy. They exuded authority, but caused fear.
“I have to be very careful to not be staring at kids,” said one. “I can look at a mum and her baby, but I can’t look for too long. I miss being seen as not a threat.” Ditto for kids on the playground and puppies, multiple guys said.
And every one of them said they’d experienced a moment when they were walking at night behind a woman, and suddenly realised that she was walking faster or clutching her purse because she was scared.
“If I start to get too close, I can feel her fear, I can feel that she’s getting upset,” one noted.
Imagine being a kind, decent male who constantly faced with the stereotype that men are inherently “bad” and scary.
How awful would that be?
For every “bad” man there are 20 good, kind, gentle ones. I’ve been fortunate to live a life filled with the later.
But I wouldn’t want to be one because what it feels like for a girl is pretty freaking awesome.
And we should we celebrating that.
Song of the day: Madonna “What it feels like for a girl”