I am a 21st-century woman, and have only acquired the legal status of an ‘adult’ two years ago. Even though it seems I have just started knowing and living life, I must say most of the women my age, today, aren’t ignorant anymore. Owing to the fact that, being educated enough, we know our rights, and we know what we as women deserve. Therefore, today when we talk of ’empowering women’, we talk of ‘educating more’. As women of this new generation, we have started to let ourselves explore things, and go beyond what was once thought unachievable by us.
However, talking of ’empowerment and encouragement’, and believing in bringing about the whole ‘equality’ agenda, things still haven’t gotten better if, even today, you tell me to ‘lower my voice, because I am a woman’; if today you tell me to ‘not talk loudly, because I am a woman’; if today you tell me to ‘not wear something because, I am a woman’; if today you ask me ‘how is it that I don’t know to cook, when I am a woman?’; if today you tell me to ‘not cut my hair short, because I am a woman’; if today yo tell me to ‘not laugh too loud, because I am a woman’. (Manners and behaviour were not designed with gender in mind, I suppose.)
Look, I am a hu(man) first, then a wo(man). He feels happy, so do I. He cries, so do I. He gets angry, so do I. Isn’t it all the same? Apart from what is biological, nothing was ever imposed on us by nature. The ‘norms of living’ that we have been following since who knows when are what you and I have made. But on what basis? How did we know that the hands I have can cook, and the hands he has cannot, or aren’t meant to? How did we know I am not suppose to laugh and talk loudly, whereas he is entitled to? How did we decide that I should cover myself from head to toe, when he has the same flesh and blood?
Why is it always ‘you are a man’ and ‘you are a woman’?
How much worse do those tantrums sound to you (man)? “Don’t cry like a woman”, “Cannot lift, cannot fight” “Oh! What a woman”. I wonder if you (man) even struggle at times to keep showcasing your ‘manliness’, like we do in maintaining ‘being woman’. What if I don’t know how to cook? What if he cannot fight? Does this make me any less human? But, of course, in your eyes it does make me ‘less woman’ and him a ‘less man’. Here, I wasn’t born to bring cooked grains to your plate, nor was he born to lift his arms in rage.
Similar education and similar opportunities are all good to make us equals, but, mind you, it’s not enough. What importance do they hold, the education, the opportunities, when I can’t even express my emotions freely?
Let’s look beyond, this time. We aren’t seeking just rights and justice, but ‘acceptance’. Acceptance of being a human first. Acceptance of being an individual person. I am a woman, I can talk loudly; You are a man, you can let your tears flow.
Let’s not define our existence by only ‘gender’. Let’s not live as only ‘man’ and ‘woman’.