Being a woman in the Western world is a privilege. I feel lucky about it. I wouldn’t be doing a job which gives me satisfaction, fulfilment and independence had I been born and raised in another country where women’s rights are not so implemented. I wouldn’t be sitting here writing about womanhood talking about the feminine perks of westernisation. I want this article to be a celebration of this liberty. I want to commemorate the little first world freedoms we get to enjoy on a daily basis – the ordinary things we take for granted. However, I also want to make reference to the challenges we face every day as women, from the tiny trivial nuisances to the more serious obstacles. So, without further ado, let us zoom in on a day in the life of a young woman living in a democratic society in the 21st century.
I arise at an ungodly hour of the day to wash my hair, put my make up on and look presentable. I’m not quite sure why I do it. I just do. I’d like to think that no one demands it of me, that I do it of my own free will. Or maybe it’s the little voice inside my head planted by magazines and adverts and TV shows telling me that my eyeliner has to be absolutely precise if I want to be taken seriously in life. Symmetrically applied eyeliner maintains a boyfriend’s love, according to one or two ads. Anyway, I just do it. There are days when I just wouldn’t have the time or not be bothered, but I know I’ve got the confidence and the liberty to emerge into the outside world make up-free. Now, where was I? Ah yes.
Two shampoo rinses and seven bottles of facial products later, I’m out of the house to catch the bus to get to work, because women can have jobs. Let’s take a moment to appreciate that. Now – to the bus stop!
There are times when I have to run to catch my bus. Let us assume that this is one of those times. I do not feel comfortable running. It more often than not attracts unwanted attention. Yet, it is necessary if I want to make it in time to the office. Sure enough, my sprint is ensued by a man sticking his head out of the window to holler a degrading remark to further my discomfort. If he’s got the freedom to catcall me, then I’ve got the freedom to give him the finger. I’ve also got the freedom to enjoy the sight of his gobsmacked face. Some men still think that women should subject to sexual degradation quietly and lady-like, without protestation. I, on the other hand, think otherwise, and exercise my female right to stand up to harassment and disrespect, whatever form it may take.
So, that’s our first feminist obstacle of the day obliterated. One catcaller shamed.
I’ve now boarded the bus and got to the office. It’s a pleasure being a woman working here. I’m surrounded by gentlemanly open-minded male colleagues who value my contribution to the workplace, and I am treated as an equal. I am particularly grateful for this, because it wasn’t so long ago that I had to hold down jobs where my female presence wasn’t as respected. Plenty of discrimination was faced in these dark times, and my assertion was seen as troublesome by both my male and female colleagues. And so, I relish my current place of employment. May all women be blessed with such a harmonious working environment.
Another day completed. I left home a free woman, and returned… just the same. A little wiser, perhaps.
There are women both inside and the outside of the Western world who aren’t as lucky as I am to be treated with dignity as they go about their lives, and I hope they all find the courage to fight for their position, not for the sake of belittling men or claiming territorial power, but to set an example to society that both genders, in fact all genders, are to be on equal par. May the beauty of women stem from their collective desire for justice, tolerance and acceptance.
What do you like about being a woman?
Let us know in the comment section below.