Posted in NARRATIVES

What It Means to be a Woman

To be a woman is to have all sorts of expectations of you, a long list of double standards, and people constantly telling you how to behave, how to look, how to speak.

I asked some of my friends to tell me a common stereotype about women they hear and maybe examples of these that they have been exposed to or have witnessed.

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CAMILLE: I think that [the stereotype would be] women are [expected to be] the most butt hurt or affected after a break up, I mean it may be true, but when that’s said people automatically assume the eating on the couch ice cream and crying for 3 weeks long. But honestly that just makes me feel like “HELLO do you see the girls who get so strong and fit after a break up?” Or another one is that women are most likely to want to settle down and get married by a certain age. But like now, I’m seeing more men who are now the ones wanting to marry a certain age and settle down. Lots of women now are vocal about the “I don’t need a man, I’m independent” vibe.

EXAMPLE: It’s still very present how parents try to modern dating values, but sometimes parents still dislike when the girl is the one making the efforts instead of the guy in the relationship. Conceptually, it’s because parents still want to abide by women being courted or “chased” by the man rather than the other way around. The idea is that women should never be the one going out of their way in a relationship. For Camille, it isn’t about the chase, but recognizing that the roles are different now than what they were when parents were our age.

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JESSICA: The stereotype that “women are too emotional” makes me feel like feelings and emotions are only for women; makes you feel as the other in a world of men and women.

EXAMPLE: For Jessica, she sees a lot of this stereotype in movies just as much in real life, especially European/westernized centric movies. The way women are expected to act and the stereotype of women are portrayed in social media videos that float around, in RomComs and Chick Flicks that show women being the one portraying more emotion than that of men. For example, Jessica came across a video on Facebook shared by her friend where the video said, “Babe… Thank you for coming into my life… Thank you for making me smile like crazy… Thank you for making me happy.” These are statements that could be said or written by anyone, but the end of this video said “Female thoughts.” Jessica’s friend that shared this video was not female. It was almost as if it was saying that women are the only ones allowed to feel emotions or at least be EXPRESSIVE about these emotions.

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GABY: One that I guess bothers me  is when people say women cant perform certain tasks on the job because they may be too emotionally invested and let their emotions get the best of them. That’s annoying for me because I’ve seen women make powerful decisions in the work place without needing men’s help.

EXAMPLE: We have seen, in society, how much women have accomplished despite all of the claims about women being “too emotional” to handle certain job duties. Women all over the place – in the White House, presidents or chancellors of universities, doctors, lawyers, judges, engineers, teachers, and so many jobs defying the standards and norms of society.

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KIANA: I think a stereotype that I commonly hear or least I have read about was this impression that women had an inferior intelligence compared to men. This was really common in past history, but I still think it is ingrained into some male minds, and perhaps some female minds today. That one irritates me probably the most just because I in general hate being undermined by intelligence. However, I think this stereotype is something that women grow up learning, especially those trying to be in the STEM fields. I think it angers me more than anything because it is by no justification for it. Like there is no evidence regarding this so called belief that women actually have an inferior intelligence, it is just something that has spread from men. It does not make me feel inferior, weak, or belittled to hear such a stereotype. It just angers me and makes me want to pursue education even more. I hate being told I can’t do something.
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AIMEE: It sucks that we get called out as just a “bitch” in the workplace for things that guys do all the time, and it makes me feel like I have to be meek and passive and friendly all the time or else I’ll look like a jerk. In general it sucks that guys get away with everything behavior wise that girls get called out for. We can have completely valid arguments for something and get brushed aside for being too emotional, when that’s not the point you’re trying to achieve.

EXAMPLE: People will call a woman “bossy” for doing assigning work, delegating tasks, and doing what she needs to do to make sure projects get completed. Even when she says it in her calmest, softest voice. As soon as she raises her voice or speaks with a firmer tone, suddenly she becomes “bossy.” However, we often witness male supervisors who will get angry amd who will yell derogatory remarks at people. It ties back into the assumption that women should not have roles where they are in charge because they are “bossy” but the insane double standards of a man acting the same way or worse, is seemingly appropriate. The tendency is that males will be disregarded for their behavior whereas the female supervisor is assumed to be a… Bitch.

What it was like to grow up as a girl…

From the time I was born, it was always pink gifts instead of blue — because I’m a girl.

That I wore dresses and played with Barbie dolls…

That the only time I got the chance to play with “boys” toys like nerf guns were with my cousins…

That as a young as the age of 10, I was always reminded to wear shorts every time I wore skirts or dresses…

That I always had to sit with my legs closed, knees touching…

That every time I wore a shirt with spaghetti straps or anything with a collar lower than my collar bones, I need to cover up — especially around boys…

That as young as the age of 12 in the 7th and 8th grade, I was already being objectified by boys my age…

That these boys would send me text messages telling me I should send them pictures of my naked body and my only response was “LOL” or “HAHA” because I didn’t know what or how to respond…

That at the age of 13, sitting in the back of the classroom next to a boy made me always want to sit in the front of the classroom because he felt he could put his hand on my thigh and move his hand up and to the inner of my thighs…

That in the 8th grade and kissing my 7th grade boyfriend, he felt it was okay to touch my breasts…

That at the age of 14, I was peer pressured into giving up my virginity and suddenly it felt like the whole Freshman class knew about it the day after…

That it took me until the age of 18 to understand that birth control wasn’t just for pregnancy prevention, but a period regulator…

That boys feel it is appropriate to send you images of their private parts, telling you to send pictures of yours in exchange and to engage in sexual intercourse with them…

That males get praised for “scoring” on numerous females, but women are called “sluts,” “hoes,” “whores,” and all sorts of derogatory terms for giving herself to a man…

That when my then-boyfriend and I broke up, the expectation was I had to be the emotional one who would be crying and begging for him to come back to my life…

That I began being conscious of how I looked at 12 comparing myself to the images of women in magazines and on TV and even those around me, and still feel that way to this day…

That there are other people telling me what their expectations are of what my physical attributes should look like from how much make up should be on my face to what my body weight should be…

That I witness people who do not even remotely understand the basics of a female body but feel they have the right to make decisions about what I can and cannot do about my body…

That I am terrified to go anywhere by myself because occurrences like a man visibly looking at my body with lust when I am nearly fully covered wearing high-waisted jeans and long-sleeved crop top, barely exposing 3-inches of my midriff — asking my friends to create a circle around me, just to feel safe…

That I had and still have boys who tell me my personality and confidence is “too strong for a girl” and I will keep scaring men away because “I am not feminine and soft enough” to be a “desirable” woman…

That my academic capacity and educational abilities should not always be the most present thing because it “intimidates men” to be around women smarter than them…

That one of the first questions I get asked at family gatherings is whether or not I have a boyfriend…

That the expectation of me after I graduated college is to work until I have a man who will be my husband and “serve him” as a proper wife…

That people have the audacity to tell I need a man to make it through and advance in the world…

I am a woman, but sit down while I tell you what kind of woman I am.

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I am a woman who loves pink because it’s a playful color; bright and vibrant – like my bubbly personality.

I am a woman who cut the hair of some of my Barbie dolls because I wanted boy dolls too.

I am a woman enjoyed playing with nerf and water guns, wrestling with my cousins, and playing SuperSmash Bros and Mariokart.

I am a woman who wore her shorts when I needed to, but most times didn’t.

I am a woman who didn’t like to listen and still sat with my legs wide open; I mean knees touching wasn’t always comfortable.

When I was a child, I cared a lot less about what I wore, how I sat, how I “presented” myself, and enjoyed being a child.

I am not in a society when I no longer experience being objectified.

What I am is…

A woman who knows her strength.

A woman who projects her strengths and shares with everyone, regardless of their gender, just how much academic intellectual capacity I have.

A woman who feels sorry for the man who asks me not to talk about my successful undergraduate career, where I was a double major and came out of it with two diplomas.

I am beyond what this society makes of me, what the norms expect of me, and what everyone else thinks I should do.

This post is very special to me because there are lots of things in this blog that I have rarely shared or have never shared at all, but there is so much I want people to be able to pull from this. That each and every woman is more than capable of looking for their inner strength. If they aren’t ready, then that’s the rest of us – who are – will do. We will fight for what we have, we will be the ones creating a voice for those who can’t, and we will empower every time we get the opportunity to do so.

For this special feature, I would like to thank some of my closest friends for giving me their insights and takes on women in society. Thank you so much Camille, Jessica, Gaby, Kiana, and Aimee for being vulnerable and allowing me give your expressions into my work. You each are strong and powerful women that have proven well beyond what people can see.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Author:

Launching a blog has been one of my biggest personal goals, as I have always been fond of writing. Through words, I am taken about into a new world and sometimes it gets mixed up with my realities. However, it is in the stories I create and in the stories I tell that makes everything I see more vivid in its color. I have always found myself in love with writings of others, and now I have gained the confidence to share beyond the inner circle I have that hears about my life. Some simple basics about me: * University of California - Irvine, Class of 2017 * B.A. in Educational Sciences * B.A. in Sociology
 * Post-Undergrad Life: Assistant Resident Director at UCLA beginning July 2017. In addition, I will be applying to Graduate program in either Higher Education/Educational Administration or in Student Affairs this coming Fall 2017 * Background: I was born in the Philippines and moved to the US when I was 6. I grew up in Los Angeles (Koreatown). I am an only child of a single mom. I have 4 younger cousins, and the only girl of the 5 grandchildren -- youngest girl of my mom's family line. * Random Things: My favorite things in the world are PINK (the color -- as if my blog features didn't showcase that enough), chocolate, and Hello Kitty! I'm very into arts and crafts (like DIY, somewhat talented with drawing). Netflix (What college student doesn't like Netflix?). 
 * Strengths (StrengthsQuest): Discipline, Focus, Restorative, Achiever, Positivity * True Colors: Gold and Blue -- they're tied. Also, looks like I really belong with the UCs! Haha. * Love Language: Quality Time and Physical Touch -- also tied. I love spending time with people over anything (food, coffee, movies, etc.) as much as I love HUGS! Expect that I will tell you stories about many things related to my career (because I just LOVE Residence Life), but I won't leave out other parts of my adventures. Be on the lookout for a weekly to biweekly recap.

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