jueves, 27 de julio de 2017

To every woman colleague I’ve ever had

Dear all,

Lately I had some conversations with a few female fellow students. And they all felt the same way, so bad about themselves, so little. It made me really sad, so I just want to direct this words to every woman colleague I’ve ever had, as it is a pattern I’ve been observing for years now. I get you. I get your feeling of frustration, I get your feeling that you are not good enough. So I want to share my experience with you and give you some advice, so maybe you start feeling better, and maybe you start feeling like you are not alone.

BROFLAKES BEWARE: some generalization ahead. I know that what I describe it’s not the case for every woman and every man, but in general lines it is what happens for most of us. If there is a chance of your ego being hurt by generalizations, don’t continue reading. 

For years I was reading and learning about how to be successful, tricks and hacks to be excellent in whichever field I was trying to succeed. But still, I always felt like I was not enough, that other people was always achieving more than I was. And that, of course, had to mean that I was not doing enough, that I was lazy, dumb or both. I had this constant feeling that I was an utter failure of a human being. It’s not like people around me was actively feeding that feeling. It was my own self-concept.

Then I discovered feminism. Oh, yeah, I’m a feminist to the bone. Don’t get scared by the word, please. Feminism saved me. Feminism showed me that I was not being fair AT ALL with myself. I was always comparing myself with successful white males, because, of course, if you are a white male you can become whatever you want. I realized that almost any advice out there is made by men to men. But that’s not fair to women. It does not apply. Not because we are less able, of course, but because the mental load we face is definitely worse. I was truly convinced that me and some other guy my age were starting the race in a leveled field, but somehow I was always behind, and that was my fault. Always my fault. But that is far from true.

We start being told that we are dumber, that we must look pretty, that we didn’t earn fairly whatever we achieved (we probably fucked someone to get that, it’s impossible that we are good enough to get that for ourselves!). We get criticized constantly by our looks, we are either prudes or sluts, too fat or too thin, our butts and our boobs don’t have the exact shapes that society allows. We use too much or too little make up. If we have like three hairs in our legs, what a shame! How can we go out to the street like that? Most of us (cis) feel sick for 2 or 3 days a month and have to deal with bloody underwear, stained sheets, blood clots coming out of our vaginas. But still we have to pretend like we feel great and nothing is affecting us, because having a period is something dirty and shameful. God forbid a guy noticing us carrying a pad to the bathroom with us, the trauma he, poor thing, can face! We get shamed and isolated if we do want sex, we get shamed and harassed if we don’t. If we are nice then we are too soft, if we are assertive then we are crazy aggressive bitches. We HAVE to be caretakers, we have to take care of our relatives and our friends. And I won’t even get started on what being pregnant or a mum represents socially and occupationally.

Then, the white guy next door comes and tells you “Why don’t you just do this! It’s easy! I did it!”. And you can’t, because of course you are so down, feeling so little, feeling so incompetent, so insufficient, so inadequate, that you get paralyzed by the mere idea of trying. You think you are not good enough. But you are not taking into account that this kind guy next door can walk into an interview all scruffy and with poor hygiene, with half the qualifications they are asking and just with a bit of charm and the interviewer feeling identified with him, he can get a job and a decent salary. He can forget about everyone’s birthdays and just get by with a joke, “How oblivious Tom is! But he’s a good guy!”. He probably does not cook or clean at home and has his mother or girlfriend doing that for him. He probably “helps” his wife with the care of his children, if he has any, while he is regarded as an exemplary dad for taking the kids to school on Mondays. He does not even know his child’s shoe size, and he asks his wife what his own underwear size he is. He does not care for his elders, that’s what other women in the family are for! He never thinks that his help is needed in organizing the family holidays, his grandma alone can manage cooking for 30 people!

So, of course, this guy can focus on just being productive in his career! We, as women, have a mental load 10 times bigger (and it gets way worse if you are non-white, non-straight or trans). The social shaming we would face if we did not take proper care of the ones around us, if we did not care about our looks, about our home: it would destroy us. But still we feel fucking useless when, after balancing twenty tasks, we are not able to focus on our career goals. You know what? FUCK IT. WE ARE WORTHY, WE FUCKING FOUGHT FOR EVERYTHING WHILE TAKING CARE OF OUR BELOVED ONES AND FACING PREJUDICE AT EVERY STEP. We are able to eat proper meals, take care of everyone around us and still be amazing at our jobs. And even if we end up being an average worker, that should be fine too! We should be allowed to be average and not getting trampled over for not being excellent at every single aspect of our lives.

So please, please, please, start realizing that as women we are not in a leveled field. I realized that I had to overcome a thousand mental and social blocks, that I had to fight harder to being regarded as a professional. Of course, logic and assertiveness are not feminine traits, and I’ve had colleagues and bosses feeling threatened by me. But if I dress or act feminine, I am superficial and I can’t be that good, I must be cheating somehow. But I overcame all of that successfully, while taking care of people and pets around me, while I took care of myself and my surroundings, while I kept on growing. When I realized all that, I felt free for the first time. I started regarding myself with love instead of hatred.

We have to realize how amazing we are and start believing in ourselves. I do believe in you, you are my sisters in this shitty world. I support you. I’ve seen woman around me work their asses off while caring for everybody, studying, working. Being in abusive relationships and surviving that. We are all overachievers, but we are defining our own value in a utterly unfair manner. So please, believe in yourselves and your own value. Go with scruffy looks to interviews were you don’t cover all the requisites. Be excellent or be average. Complain about your period out loud. Don’t take care of people around you as if you were the only one responsible for their wellbeing. Kick parasites out of your life. Focus on you and how amazing you are. Ask for more money. Appreciate how many things you’ve come through in all the facets of your life to get to were you are now. You are able to do whatever you want to do. Shame to whoever makes you feel like you won’t make it, tell me who they are and I will kick their asses. And please, be patient and kind with yourself, it’s not an easy path. And you are not alone.

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