A Girl’s Wake-Up Call
Here's why coming of age girls should care about the recent Women's Marches.
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I am a woman. I am 18 years old. I can point to 0 times I have felt discrimination in the workplace or school because of my gender. But I recently met over three million women who reminded me that I will face injustice one day, and they’ve shown me how to rise above it.
I haven’t felt the touch of discrimination in the workplace or in school. I haven’t had to speak up for myself, unless I’m arguing with friends. But many others have. I have a woman in my family who applied for and was declined a job. A man got that job. My mom was due for a promotion. She had the college degree and 10+ years of experience. Guess who the promotion went to? A man who had been working at the company for six months.
I’m not here to tell you that I know everything about this because I don’t. I’m not here to make you believe in the same things I do because I can’t. But here’s what I can tell you – I am a woman, and I am 18 years old. I didn’t march. I don’t freely discuss political views, nor am I active in any type of political organization. I get uncomfortable when the topic of politics is brought up, especially recently. However, watching all these protests unfold, I felt the need to express my gratitude.
The position I’m in – about to enter the real world, have responsibilities, etc. – is not one that’s ideal. I don’t have the upper hand on half of my opponents for jobs or job titles. When I do get a job, I won’t make the full dollar – I’ll only make 77 cents of it, but the men will get that extra 23 cents.
When I saw all the people protesting in support of women’s rights, among other issues, it made me pause. I realized that I’ve been a girl my whole life. I’ve never been a woman. I’ve never had the need to face the injustices of society as a grown woman. For the past 18 years, I’ve just been going on as a kid, depending on my parents’ support and protection, going to school and living on a bell schedule, safely driving my moms’ car home from social events, and dealing with the occasional comments of immature, adolescent boys. I don’t have to fight to show my worth in the workplace, to fend off unwanted advances, or have to worry about walking home alone to my dorm at night. But this protest triggered the realization that these concerns are a guaranteed unpleasantness waiting for me in the future.
To any girl, or woman, who is reading this:
It’s been 169 years, and the progress that has been made towards the protection and insurance of human rights for my gender has been slow and remains unfinished. Of course there have been many strides in the freedoms of women and minorities. Huge strides. But those mean nothing if the people in power refuse to acknowledge that times have changed, if those in power think it’s okay to degrade women and call them “fat” and “ugly,” if those in power are intentionally trying to break the bond of strong, diverse communities. It is not okay. It is not okay. It. Is. Not. Okay.
I am 18 years. I am a woman. I did not march. But I am so thankful to all the courageous and beautiful women that did.