Accepting me, accepting her!
At a very early age I was brought up to believe that women and men are different. Through direct words or simple observation I understood that I had a tougher road to prove myself and to be taken into consideration for what I really am and not for what I look like. Throughout my life I’ve witnessed so many forms of discrimination against women, against me, against my gender that I am surprised I stand here today writing this text not with anger, but with hope for my future and my gender’s future.
Before I met my husband, I used to hate the fact that I was a woman. I wasn’t reconciled at all with my “status” in this world and I was doing everything possible not to be associated with the “weak” gender. I decided to be messy, not care about my clothes and my looks, not to wear skirts or revealing clothes, to eat impolitely, to sit with my legs open rather than crossed, to use bad language and to never ever, ever seem like an easy girl. I grew up most of my life resenting women and their fragility, sensitivity and innocence.
Every time that I was close to forgetting my “condition”, there was always a situation to remind me of it again and again. As if there was a constant reminder of how the world views us women and what is expected of us. I started to understand these things at a very early age when I was constantly told about my grandfather’s disappointment of not having a grandson to carry his name. His discontent, made me feel like a disappointment from the start. The feeling of not being good enough was there from the beginning. Then, there were arguments such as “why should I wash the dishes when I have three women in the house” that I used to come across regularly in my family. I was always told that I needed to be neat because I’m a girl and that it’s extremely rude if I don’t take care properly of myself and my appearance. At the age of 19, my boyfriend told me that I dress ugly and not sexy enough. At 22, my boss casually pointed out to me that one of his 80 year old friends lost his wife and if I’m interested, he is looking for a young wife to leave his wealth to. At 25, one of my female friend asked me why I kept my name when I got married because we still live in a patriarchy. At 28, a boss pointed out to the team that he will not hire a certain girl because she seems boring. At 29, I was asked at a job interview if I have a family because if I do I won’t be able to do any travelling and that would be a problem for them. And the list could go on and on.
I cannot explain to you the utter surprise, anger and numbness that I felt every time after hearing all these remarks. The burden on my back felt heavier and heavier and the battle against the world felt lost. No matter how decent and serious I tried to be, no matter how man-like I used to act, my fate was already chosen. I was what I was and nobody could liberate me from my label.
In my case, it took a man to change my point of view about a woman’s condition in this world. After 7 years of no expectations, no judgment and unconditional love I finally found a way to accept my womanhood and embrace it. Time and time again he proved to me that changing a women’s status in this world is also up to me. It’s not just about how men see us, but it’s also about how we see ourselves. If I continued to live in self-hatred and shame, I would also participate to this vicious circle of discrimination. I also realized that there are many men and women out there who have great respect for both genders. Not everyone should be put in the same bucket.
And most importantly, if I have a baby girl, how will she ever learn to love herself if her own mother doesn’t accept and embrace her womanhood? I learned that the fight should not be fought on the exterior, but in the interior. It’s not about making 1 million people believe that you are a strong woman worth of having equal rights. Only when we believe it ourselves and act accordingly, only then we will be able to change the opinion of those around us.
Photo Credits: Anamaria Olaru
Sculpture by: Anamaria Olaru, Title: Woman escaping from her rope
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