Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Being A Girl Sure Ain't Easy, Is It?

Ladies, let's chat about the never-ending joys of being girls...

The first joyous occasion in a girl's life is the day she becomes a woman. Most of us push that memory to the back recesses of our minds, but it's still there. You woke up one seemingly normal morning and scrolled through the list of things that were important to your pre-teen mind: school friends, your crush, and whether your mom bought name brand or store brand chips that week. You know - the truly important things. As you got out of bed, the realization hit that you had clearly slept in a crime scene. Your first thoughts were, "Holy shit! My parents have been hiding the fact that I'm a werewolf, and I must have changed last night and killed someone!" While you were frantically trying to figure out what to do with the evidence of your kill, your mom may have come into your room and realized that her little girl was now a woman. She told you that you were getting a free day out of school and y'all do lady things: coffee, lunch, and shopping for puzzling items. Maxi pads? Tampons? What in God's name are those, and where are they supposed to go?!?

If you were lucky enough to have a pleasant experience with "blossoming" (seriously, who named it that?), count your blessings. I was at summer camp with no idea what was happening to my body, only that my death was imminent from internal bleeding. When I returned home my mom explained to me that I was not suffering from internal bleeding. My period would be gone in about a week but would return monthly. I begged her to make it go away forever. Don't moms have super powers? This was the first real disappointment of my life.

Now in my mid-30s, my period is still traumatic. I cramp, cry, and bitch. I want to avoid people. My supply of "period panties" is still in the dresser. Despite 20 years of experience, I still deal with embarrassing situations as a result of my stupid uterus. Today, I am on my third pair of underwear. Y'all, I'M 35 YEARS OLD AND HAVE ZERO CONTROL OF ANYTHING RIGHT NOW!

Another zinger that comes with being a girl is boobs. Don't get me wrong; I definitely appreciate a nice set of boobs. But no one warned me about them. When puberty hits, little girls get training bras. I'm not sure what we're training our boobs to do, but mine clearly balked at any and all training. I was so jealous of the girls with humongous boobs. They looked good in v-neck shirts while I could have passed for a boy during my teen years. I remember telling my parents from a young age that when I turned 35, I was getting a hysterectomy and a boob job.

And no one told me that your boobs grow exponentially during pregnancy and nursing! I went from a solid 36C to a solid... I don't even know what size I am anymore. I just try to find the biggest least "grandma-esque" bra I can. Also, what do you do when the boobs you thought you wanted suddenly betray you and leak milk everywhere? I'm not talking about when you're home with your sweet baby while he or she is nursing. I'm talking about when you escape to Target by yourself for the first time in weeks because you need to feel human again and buy yourself some new yoga pants. Then you hear someone's baby crying, and you suddenly have to buy a new bra, shirt, and breast pads to change in the bathroom. So now you've got two body parts that can and will betray you and start leaking whenever they damn well please.

Another *fantastic* thing about being a girl is shopping for clothes. Seriously, what sadist dictates women's clothing sizes? Could clothing manufacturers discuss a way to label everything so that I am the same size across the board? Two things are guaranteed to make me cry in public: seeing a military member reunited with her or his family after a deployment and shopping for jeans. I've owned the same 2 pairs of jeans that I bought when I was pregnant with my 3-year-old. These jeans don't fit me well anymore, as evidenced by both pairs having a ponytail holder in the button hole in case it's a fat day and I can't button them. Despite this, I can't bring myself to go shopping because it's painful every time. So I'll just keep wearing the same pants forever or figure out a way to wear yoga pants or leggings every day.

Another advantage women face every day as a reward for our anatomy is unequal pay. As a teacher I get paid a meager salary anyway, but women on average earn about $.79 for every dollar a man earns. Some women even make less than that. And we all hear the same boring excuses: women are the ones who take off work to care for sick kids, or women visit the doctor more often for themselves or the kids. To that I say WHO FUCKING CARES?!? My dad took me to the doctor as often as my mom did. Does that mean that he should have been paid less or had fewer opportunities for promotions than the women in his office?

The issue I'm the most over when it comes to being a woman is rape culture. I won't go into the  insane number of rape cases that made national headlines this year, or the insanity of a professed and accused rapist being elected to the highest office in this country. But I will acknowledge the absurdity  that I have known my entire life not to walk alone at night unless I have something to defend myself with. Or that I text my girlfriends after I return home from a night out so they know I'm safe and have done this for years. And I never forget the "don't leave your drink unattended" rule. I know, all too well, the shame of being a rape survivor and not reporting it because I had been drinking, or was dressed provocatively, or had flirted with him earlier in the night. The thousands of untested rape kits sitting on shelves for decades tell me all I need to know about how seriously law enforcement treats rape cases. Girls are taught from a young age to dress in ways that aren't a distraction to boys. Church functions tell girls that their virginity is sacred. Girls are shamed for having and enjoying any sexual encounter. Terms like slut, ho, and whore are commonly used for actions that are deemed not prudish enough.

Perhaps there aren't any solutions to these issues. But women are fed up and they are standing up. May 2017 be the year of the true women's revolution! May women bask in the shadows of the strong women who went before us and shine as beacons for the strong women we are raising today!

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