The news of late has been a little tough to swallow for women. And though this is nothing particularly new, the sting of hearing about how women are routinely failed by society never quite dulls.
In recent days alone, we’ve heard about how Brittany Higgins needed hospital care due to the toll of her experience with the justice system, that the gender pay gap has widened to the point that it will take 200 years to reach income equity and that a man has been charged with the murder of his wife in Melbourne (we’re sitting at one woman being killed per week by her current or former partner right now).
It’s a lot to take in, and when you add all of the above to the everyday stresses of the female experience, it can feel pretty damn disheartening. No matter how many Gloria Steinheim quotes you see filling your Instagram feed.
So, with all the above in mind, we thought we’d ask a bunch of regular women what they wished more men understood about their lives. Here are nine honest responses.
9 things women wish more men understood
We wish we could do everyday activities without feeling scared
I wish more men understood how lucky they are to go about their day-to-day life without fear for their safety. The majority of them don’t have to think twice about going for a walk/run late at night or early in the morning, camping solo, spending a night home alone, travelling alone, walking past or through crowds of people etc. Every time I consider doing one of those things, I need to assess the risks and potentially change how I do things to ensure my safety. I’d give anything for a day where I could do normal activities without having to worry about how safe I am while doing them.
The absolute fear that runs through your veins just walking a few metres from the train station to your car at night, even if it’s only 7:00 pm.
Once again. We are scared.
How much time and energy we spend being hyperaware of our surroundings. Are we safe? Can I trust this person/uber driver/guy I want to go home with? Can I wear this outfit without feeling eyes crawling on me, or am I risking not making it home safe? We take on all the responsibility for how we are treated and for minimising our risk levels, when we all know at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what we do – we can’t control the actions of a man who is out to hurt and endanger us. It is fking exhausting.
Beauty standards are rough
The amount of effort females go through from a very very young age to impress the male gaze (hair removal, hair straightening, maintaining a certain weight, wearing make-up, wearing heels).
Mansplaining is the absolute worst
The absolute anger that runs through your veins when men interrupt you, assume they know more than you without even listening to you and then take credit for your ideas.
A few different things…
1. Our cycles are ~28 days, and yours are 24 hours. Therefore you can reliably plan your days/workouts/moods to be repetitive, we can’t. 2. Wet ain’t mean horny; no wet ain’t mean not horny. 3. We simply cannot walk to the car in the dark alone without being scared. 4. Being nice to you does not mean we are interested. When we say we are interested in you, that’s when we are interested in you. 5. We wear makeup for us, not you. 6. When you think we’re being hysterical, you’re just confronted by your own shortcomings – don’t project.
Double standards are everywhere
Being made to feel like you’re ‘difficult’ for wanting the same things men want is exhausting.
Being taught your body = your value is difficult to unlearn
I wish more men would understand just how much of a toll things like sexual harassment, sexual assault, and grooming take on us. I’ve spent years trying to unlearn hypersexual tendencies that I learned from being groomed online and being made to believe that my body and my sexuality were the only things that gave me value, and when I’ve told that to men they act like it’s not a big deal, despite years of mistakes and bad decisions taking a toll on my mental health.
We’ve had to deal with this stuff our whole lives
The older I get, the more aware I become that society presents women as less than. We’ve had to grow up hearing phrases like “don’t be a little bitch,” “don’t be a pussy”, or “you run/throw like a girl”. Ask any woman you know, and they can probably tell you a handful of stories about times when men have underestimated, belittled or plain disrespected them (if not worse) and though we may be quite good at taking certain bullshit on the chin and moving on, all of this takes a toll.
So, when we tell you about how words or experiences make us feel, please hear us out. We’re not being dramatic. We’re not complaining for the sake of it. We’re trying to tell you that we’re hurting. Listen to us.
The long and short of it is that for all the marches and petitions and feminist t-shirts there are, we still live in a world where women (especially women of colour) are often confronted by injustices that make it feel like society doesn’t give a shit about us. And while we might understand that’s not completely true – yes, we know there are wonderful men out there who get this stuff – there is a long way to go yet.
And taking in this list of nine things is probably a pretty solid place to start.
If you or someone you love is in need of support, services like Beyond Blue and Lifeline (13 11 14) are available 24/7. If you’re in an emergency, please call 000. 1800Respect offers 24-hour support to those impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse.
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