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  • Lotus Magazine MC

yours truly, sarah

Historically, women have been equated to objects of service without any need for a fulfilling purpose in life other than caring for their spouse and children. As society has evolved, women have been afforded the rights to vote and earn a living wage — in addition to caring for their families. In today’s age of modern feminism, women are regarded as intelligent, notable contributions to the world who are capable of independence and have genuine purpose outside of placating others.

Or, so I thought.

Every woman has a moment in her life when she realizes that all the grand feminist movements she has seen and advocated for are miniscule in comparison to the concrete omnipotent patriarchy that has existed for as long as the history books date back.

For me and most women, that moment reoccurs almost every time we leave the house. Despite great efforts to fight against misogyny, it always seems to persist no matter what we do. It is a relentless and merciless battle.

I was 16 years old when I asked my boss if I could take Saturday mornings off work so that I could attend a pre-law class at NYU. His response was, “I would never hire a woman as my lawyer, why would you go into that career?”

I was 17 years old when a guy asked me six times to hook up with him and yelled at me when I persisted with “no.”

I was 18 years old when I went to a bar with all my coworkers and a woman I had never met before came up to me, forcefully grabbed my boobs, looked at my male coworker next to me, and said “You are one lucky guy.”

I was 19 years old when I was taking photographs outside of Grand Central Terminal and my friends and I realized that an old man was jerking himself off into a trash can while looking at all of us.

I could go on for pages.

The true tragedy in my experiences listed above is that this is painfully common, and most women will read this and think, “You’re lucky that that is all that happened.” And yes, I am thankful that nothing worse happened. But, isn’t that the problem in and of itself? It shouldn’t be happening at all.

Women are constantly objectified and sexualized without due cause, but our experiences are diminished because of all the horror stories we have heard and been raised to do our best to avoid. Ultimately, this has created a culture of blame within women and perpetuated the cycle of misogyny even more where we compare ourselves to each other. Misogyny exists within all of us, whether we realize it or not, and it can be as simple as thinking “I shouldn’t have worn that outfit if I didn’t want that kind of attention” to spitefully wondering “What does she have that I don’t?”.

How could something that our society was founded upon not be even somewhat ingrained into our brains?

When my boss questioned my career choices, I thought “Well, maybe he’s right” at 16. I cried after saying “no” and thanked God that he decided not to force himself on me at 17. I never wore the top that prompted that woman to sexualize me in front of my coworker again at 18. And, when my friends and I realized that that strange man was touching himself, we ran away instead of reporting him at 19.

We are programmed to see ourselves as the problem rather than fighting against the problem. As a woman raised in the age of modern feminism, it’s shocking to realize that this is how I react to these unjust situations. I was raised with strong, independent women role models both in my family and in society. But, that sense of doubt and blame forced upon us by the patriarchy persists. It’s the curse that all women endure.

My liberation has been recognizing that how society perceives me is not my responsibility. I am not responsible for people who see me and my body and think anything less of me than who I am. I am not responsible for declaring my worth for society to accept. I am not responsible for fulfilling the needs and expectations of strangers. I am not responsible for avoiding dangerous situations that have been created for me, not by me.

Striving for perfection is a death sentence. There is no outfit that would have made him leave you alone that night. There is no makeup that would have made the popular girls like you more. There is no weight that would have made your ex love you the way you deserved to be loved.

Think really hard about the perfect woman – a woman who has not had to endure the cruelties of our misogynistic society… Then think harder.

She does not exist.

Find freedom in that. All the harsh realities you have had to face as a woman in a supposedly progressive society are not your fault. The failure of all of humanity to see women as the worthy people we are is not your single responsibility.

We are not responsible for the centuries of sexism preceding us that continues to imprint itself onto us today. But, we are responsible for how we treat ourselves in the face of this injustice. Treat yourself with grace, release yourself from culpability, and find community with those who endure the same curse.

Yours truly, Sarah


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