She's Stronger Because She's a Woman

Young women who have yet to really enter the work place, or have yet to be in the workplace when they may experience a pull towards family expectations or desires during their late 20s and 30s. As a result they don't see gender or sexism in the same way. They are "gender bias/sexism blind" so to speak.

Similar to how people can be "colorblind", they hear statistics and look around and think things like "There are so many women here. More women go to college than men. Women can go to law school and business school and publish books and wear pants. Women are waiting longer to get married and have children so they are not slave to husbands and babies like they used to be. Sexism is clearly not an issue".

People who are colorblind think similar things: "Black people have affirmative action. black people go to college. They can go to law school and business school and publish books and use the same water fountain as white people. We elected a black president. Racism no longer exists."

Sexism, genderism, and racism are very much alive in our society. If anything, they are presently harder to identify because of their institutionalization.

If there was open bigotry or sexism it would be much easier to spot and protest.

We get very upset when we hear about a college bar called General Beuregard's naming one of its drink specials the N*rita because that is easily identifiable as racist. Likewise, we get very upset when the President of Harvard says women are not as smart as men in some areas. Or when men make upsetting comments about the appearance of female engineers.

These singular occurrences are easy to point to and say "ok, that's racist" or "that's sexist."

But what about grayer areas that showcase the instutionalization of racism and sexism? Like, the fact that the vast majority of incarcerated people are black. (Hint: It's not because black people are violent criminals. It's because the criminal "justice" system stems from and perpetuates racism.) Or that women are paid less than men for the same amount of work. (Another hint: It's not because women are not as smart or as hard working. It's because of sexism.)

There's also a torn identity that follows intelligent and driven women who also want to have a family. A part of you wants to keep investing in your own personal and professional development while the other part wants, and sometimes demands, that you take time to relax and slow down. Especially for women thinking about having children. If you have to go through fertility treatments--your body physically has to be in the doctor's office an awful lot, which means time away from work or other things. If you have to take hormonal shots or pills your body physically responds to them in a way that is outside of your control. When you actually have a baby your body physically needs to be with that baby for the first few months in a way that a man's does not. Society as a whole, evidenced by things like sexism in the workplace and poor family leave policies, often belittles or looks down upon or sees as weaknesses these experiences and occurrences in women's lives. At the very least they are not given the respect and space that they deserve.

Once you have children I am sure that you continue to feel torn, not only because you have to balance your desire to spend as much time with your children as you can with wanting to feel fulfilled and challenged mentally and career-wise, but also because you get placed in a new category: mother. The term mother seems to be more loaded than the term father, and some employers view it as a liability. How long will it be before you quit to be a stay at home mom? How often will you get taken away from your work because of your children's needs? Some employers place women into that category long before they even become a mother!

My point, really, is that even for as strong and amazing as women are, society wears on us. Internal battles between your brain, heart, and body are implicitly tainted with social pressures and constructions. A fight with your employer to not dismiss your talents because you are of child bearing age or, god forbid, already a mother is implicitly and explicitly fraught with social ideologies. Either way, society gnaws at our identity and can tear us apart inside.

That's why it's all the more impressive that a female politician like Hillary Clinton is where she is today. There is no doubt that it is not without some sacrifice. But she has stayed strong through so much, and as a result is not just a token women running for office but one of the most qualified candidates across gender to date.

Molly Reifield

About Molly Reifield

Talks a big game about overturning The Man by growing her own food collectively & not wearing a bra. In reality, she owns private property, wears bras AND pants and follows the law...most of the time.

View Comments